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Huggins Hopes New Players Lead to Better Results

December 2, 2013
By TONY VIOLA , The Intelligencer / Wheeling News-Register

MORGANTOWN - It was like the light bulb finally turned on for Eron Harris as West Virginia coach Bob Huggins explained it.

''As Eron told me, 'I understand why you were so frustrated a year ago. I understand. A year ago, I had no idea. I was just running around trying to figure it all out.' I think as the season went on, he started to figure it out,'' Huggins said. ''Now they got an idea what I want, how to get opportunities out of the offense. They understand the offense so much better.

''They know not to do the same thing all the time. Do something else. You can be very creative in our offense. We were so like pass and screen away, pass and screen away, pass and screen away that we weren't very creative. They were like, this isn't a very good offense. No, the players (stink). You don't have to do the same thing every time. Nobody said pass and screen every time. You can pass, cut the basket, you can cut, pass and go the ball, you can cross screen, back screen, diagonal screen, you can post, you can flare screen. You just have to have some guys on the same page. I think what's happened with Juwan (Staten) and Eron, and I think Terry (Henderson) will help that to a degree, is that they are on the same page then what they were before.''

If the Mountaineers want to be more successful this season than they were in their inaugural one in the Big 12, they'll have to do just that: be on the same page.

So far, it looks as though the pieces are beginning to come together.

Staten and Harris already seem to have good chemistry, which was, with no doubt, helped by the fact that they are playing their second year together.

Last season Harris led WVU in overall scoring with nearly 10 points per game and posted double figures in 12 of his last 17 games. The 6-foot-3, 195-pound guard became the first freshman to lead the Mountaineers in scoring since Warren Baker did it in 1972-73. Harris also led the team with 44 3-pointers.

While Harris was putting it up, Staten was dishing it out as he led the Mountaineers with 101 assists and was also tops in the Big 12 with a 2.9 assist-to-turnover ratio.

''Juwan has been terrific,'' Huggins said. ''He really has. He listens, he's trying to do the right thing, he's trying to run our team, be an example for the younger guys.''

Good thing, too, because there's a bunch of them.

Devin Williams (6-5, 255) headlines the newcomers. The freshman forward led Montverde Academy to the 2013 National High School Invitational Championship and averaged 15 points and 10 rebounds per game his senior season.

Williams has already posted his first double-double of the season for the Mountaineers against Duquesne, but according to Huggins, needs to play a bit harder if he wants to his production to reach its full potential.

''He gets himself in bad positions because he takes some plays off,'' Huggins said. ''He's got to understand how hard you have to play for as long as you have to play. Devin is doing what Devin can do. We thought Devin could come in and rebound the ball at this level and I think he's shown he can do that. Thank God he is because we are losing the battle on the glass.''

Rebounding has been a glaring hole for the Mountaineers thus far. Through the first three games, WVU has posted a minus-4 rebounding margin.

The Mountaineers have done a good job of masking the problem, though, as they are averaging 85 points a game, but it will no doubt catch up to them sooner rather than later.

''We're not going to be able to keep outscoring people,'' Huggins said. ''We're going to have to start doing a better job defensively. A lot of that comes from guys not knowing or not paying attention to what they're supposed to do. And that's new guys. Those other guys have been here and they understand and they've been through it. They know the consequences. Our new guys, I don't think they understand the consequences yet.''

 
 

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