The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

Latest Sports

December 29, 2013

WVU, Tribe to meet in Charleston

Tipoff 3 p.m. today at the Civic Center

Twelve games into the 2013-14 basketball season, it’s difficult to tell whether West Virginia is truly better than the team that went 13-19 a year ago, the first losing season for a WVU squad since 2003.

Some signs point to yes — the Mountaineers have been competitive with some of the better teams in the country, including No. 24 Gonzaga and No. 4 Wisconsin — and head coach Bob Huggins has stuck by his belief that the attitude and work ethic have improved. But to this point, WVU does not own a win against a quality opponent, and it does have at least one bad loss, at Virginia Tech.

WVU (7-5) can overcome all the almosts — a 70-63 loss to the Badgers, an 80-71 loss to Missouri, an 80-76 setback to Gonzaga and a 73-70 defeat against Purdue the last time out a week ago today — with a solid run in what looks to be a very solid Big 12 Conference. But before league play begins at TCU on Jan. 4, there’s one more nonconference test as the Mountaineers face William & Mary (6-4) today in Charleston. Tipoff is scheduled for 3 p.m., and the came will air live on Root Sports television.

“I think you learn from the past,” said Huggins in a Friday teleconference. “I’m a big believer in history. We’re going to continue to learn from all the things that we didn’t do and obviously the reasons that we didn’t win the games that maybe we could’ve, should’ve won. If you don’t learn from that, then you’re probably not going to learn.”

William & Mary should provide at least some resistance. The Tribe was competitive against No. 10 Wichita State last month and picked up a 10-point win over Rutgers. They’ve won five of their last six and are led by junior guard Marcus Thornton, who’s averaging 19.3 points and 2.8 assists per game.

Huggins, though, seems more worried about his own team than the group that will be on the visitors’ bench.

The Mountaineers are scoring points — 81 per game — and guards Eron Harris (19 points per game) and Juwan Staten (16.4 points, 6.3 assists per game) are having big seasons. It’s the little things, though, that have made the Mountaineers an average team instead of a good one.

“I could point to 10 things where if we did a little bit better we’re going to win the game,” said WVU’s legendary head coach. “We give up too many layups. We give up too many straight-line drives It’s not that we haven’t worked on it. It’s not that we haven’t talked about it. We don’t rebound the basketball the way we need to rebound the basketball. We don’t finish it around the goal.

“I think we’re at the point in time when maybe you take the kid gloves off, and now you start treating them like veterans, because they have played 12 games now and they’ve all played.”

One player Huggins said should see an increase in playing time is freshman forward Brandon Watkins, who was the MVP of the win over Marshall with 12 points and 11 rebounds.

“He’s got to play,” said Huggins. “He’s earned it. He was behind (freshmen Devin Williams and Nathan Adrian) when he started, and he’s probably made more progress than anybody on our team. He makes a difference around the goal, and I think eventually he’s going to be able to score it around the goal.”

Watkins’ increased minutes could be aided by some decreased time by others. Huggins gave his players a few days off to celebrate Christmas with their families, and he was not happy with how some of them handled the situation.

“There were some guys who didn’t do anything (during the break),” he said. “You’ll be able to tell that by their minutes on Sunday.”

— E-mail: chuffman@

register-herald.com and follow on Twitter @CamHuffmanRH.

1
Text Only
Latest Sports
  • 042014 old white Happy birthday to The Old White

    As Greenbrier owner Jim Justice proudly stood behind the podium on the first tee box addressing a crowd at the 100th anniversary of the historic Old White TPC Course, a surprise guest emerged from the bushes by the tennis center.

    April 19, 2014 1 Photo

  • 042014 bubba Watson becoming a West Virginian

    Greenbrier owner Jim Justice was glued to the television a week ago today, watching Bubba Watson try to chase down his second green jacket at Augusta National Golf Club.

    April 19, 2014 1 Photo

  • 042014 spartans LOCAL ROUNDUP: Spartans win Spring Break Wooden Bat Classic

    April 19, 2014 1 Photo

  • St. Joe’s Lewis named 2014 High School Coach of the Year

    Huntington St. Joseph girls basketball coach Shannon Lewis has made a habit of celebrating success in Charleston over the last few years.

    April 19, 2014

  • 041914 old white Old White to celebrate 100 years

    The home of The Greenbrier Classic will be having a birthday today, and the celebration should be something special.

    April 19, 2014 1 Photo

  • Mullens, Pineville to meet in Anderson Memorial

    After many years away from the sideline, legendary Mullens High School coach Don Nuckols is returning to the game of basketball.

    April 19, 2014

  • 041914 D'Antoni Lakers mum on D’Antoni

    Mike D’Antoni was still the Los Angeles Lakers’ coach when he left their training complex to spend the Easter weekend out of town with his family.

    April 19, 2014 1 Photo

  • 041914 gibby WVU trying to find speed on defense

    Tony Gibson took over as West Virginia’s new defensive coordinator over the winter with the goal of trying not to do too much to rock the boat. As the fourth coach to hold that spot in as many years, the Van native — in his second stint as a Mountaineer assistant — knew that his players needed some stability.

    April 19, 2014 1 Photo

  • 041814 Sisler Diamond Classic continues today

    Fayetteville pitcher Kaitlyn Sisler pitched five innings of shutout softball as the Pirates beat Oak Hill 10-0 Wednesday in the Diamond Classic in Fayetteville.

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • D’Antoni’s Lakers future still unclear

    With the Los Angeles Lakers season officially over — the Lakers beat the Spurs 113-100 Wednesday but finished 27-55 overall, the most losses in the club’s history and the franchise’s worst winning percentage since the Minneapolis Lakers in 1957-58 — Marshall fans will be keeping a close eye on what’s going on in Tinsel Town over the coming days.

    April 17, 2014