Basketball Notebook

  • By John Antonik
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  • December 19, 2011 10:05 AM
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About three or four times a year, West Virginia coach Bob Huggins will give a post-game press conferences loaded with nuggets of insight, wisdom and humor. Such was the case Saturday afternoon following his team’s ho-hum, 84-64 victory over Texas A&M Corpus-Christi.

Huggins was asked about the ineffective offensive play of the all-freshmen lineup he used at one point in the first half despite that group getting many open looks. Huggs answered by telling a story about his days playing for his father Charlie Huggins at Indian Valley High School.

“We had this guy on my high school team and in our first scrimmage this guy shot every ball in the first quarter. He was my neighbor; a big, old strong guy,” Huggins recalled. “I was shocked that my dad didn’t say anything. So at the end of the first quarter dad comes over and he says ‘you shot every ball.’

"He says ‘but I was open.’

“My dad says ‘there’s a reason ... because the other team wants you to be! You stink. Here’s what we’re going to do. You’re going to shoot layups and free throws and if you miss another layup then you’re just going to shoot free throws.’ I never forgot that,” said Huggins.

“You guys (media) say he was open, well, they wanted him to be,” Huggins said. “Our whole game is about getting the guys who can make shots shoot the shots, and the guys who can’t make shots not to. It’s all about getting guys to play and contribute in ways that they can contribute.”

And there was more …

* On his team’s continuing free throw shooting woes …

“I tell our guys you have 10 seconds to shoot a free throw, not two. Consequently the results are not very good,” he said. “There were some ugly looking free throws. There’s a difference between missing them and missing them the way we miss them. You could watch fifth-graders and they’d probably come closer.

“It’s all a mindset. It’s all about preparing yourself to do the right things. My dad used to say that all of the time and when you’re on the other end you’re like ‘man that ain’t right.’ It’s like that old deal … the older I get the smarter he was.”

* On players who can’t catch easy passes or continually fumble the basketball …

“That’s why they put fast guys on defense instead of wide receiver in football,” Huggins said. “DBs are just fast wide receivers who can’t catch.”

* On his decision to sit junior center Deniz Kilicli for most of the first half and not start him at the beginning of the second half …

“Deniz acts like we have this language barrier and we really don’t,” Huggins said. “Deniz understands exactly what I’m saying. It’s one thing when you miss shots and do this and that, but Deniz didn’t give us any effort. I gave him another chance because he’s only had a couple of bad days early. (Saturday) wasn’t good. His mind wasn’t here.”

* On his discussion with Kilicli on the bench during the game …

“I was not talking – I was venting,” Huggins said.

* On freshman wing Aaron Brown finding his niche on this year’s team as a player coming off the bench who can provide instant offense …

“Unfortunately, tonight his guy found his niche in their offense,” said Huggins. “A.B. has made some shots, but we can probably find some guys in the rec league who can make shots. There’s a little more to it than that.”

* On the slow development of freshman forward Keaton Miles, who is shooting 23.8 percent from the floor and is averaging just 1.2 points per game. What Huggins sees in Miles is a long, athletic player who could one day be an outstanding wing defender.

“He should be a very good defender on the ball and he should be an even better defender off the ball, but you have to get to the ball to make a play off the ball and to this point we haven’t gotten them and he hasn’t gotten to the ball enough,” Huggins said.

As for Miles’ lack of scoring, Huggins said there are many ways a player can get the ball through the hoop.

“You can score off the offensive glass, you can score off your defense, you can run in transition, you can move and lose your guy and get a pretty good five or six footer - or sometimes a layup just by moving,” said Huggins. “If you remember, John Flowers couldn’t make a shot when he was a freshman either but he was productive in a lot of games because he moved and he just didn’t stand around.”

Huggins said the encouraging thing Saturday was that Miles did not take a lot of bad shots.

“He passed up some shots today that he didn’t pass up before, which is probably a good thing,” Huggins said. “That’s a good sign that he’s starting to understand things a little better.”

* On players not giving maximum effort each time out …

“When you’re young you don’t understand,” Huggins said. “People drive a good ways to come see these games and they pay pretty good money to come to games, and we ought to really come out and show how much we appreciate that.”

Briefly …

* Tonight, West Virginia is facing a 6-4 Tennessee Tech team coming off a 72-70 victory over Evansville and has won its last three games. The Golden Eagles use a three-guard lineup with its two wing players, Jud Dillard and Kevin Murphy, averaging a combined 37.5 points per game.

Huggins said on his post-game radio show Saturday that he expects a lot of pressure from Tennessee Tech on his young guards.

This game is one of four the Mountaineers will play in a span of six days from Dec. 17-23.

* West Virginia’s RPI got a big boost last weekend following a pair of victories from non-conference opponents. Kansas State knocked off 21st-ranked Alabama on Saturday and Oral Roberts defeated eighth-ranked Xavier on Sunday afternoon.

Here are the updated records of West Virginia’s non-conference foes so far: Oral Roberts (8-4), Kent State (7-1), Alcorn State (2-7), Morehead State (4-7), Akron (5-5), Mississippi State (11-1), Kansas State (7-1), Miami (6-4) and Texas A&M-Corpus Christi (1-7).

* Senior Kevin Jones is now 14 rebounds shy of moving into 11th place on West Virginia’s all-time list currently occupied by Da’Sean Butler with 800 career rebounds.

Jones is also three point shy of moving past Russel Todd into 20th place on WVU’s all-time scoring list with 1,350 points. Jones needs 26 points to get past Ricky Robinson to move into 19th place.