Posted by Tony Caridi on Sunday, November 30, 2008 (2:15 pm)
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Bright, beautiful sunshine is blasting through the circular glass gate area at Las Vegas’s McCarren Airport. In the distance you can see many of Sin City’s landmarks while hearing non-stop jingles, clangs and bells from the slot machines just a few feet from our gate.
||Wellington Smith blocks a shot during Saturday's championship game of the Las Vegas Invitational against Kentucky.
It’s not a fun morning to be a Mountaineer. A 12-point second half lead over Kentucky evaporated last night and we’ve just been informed that our flight has been delayed at least an hour.
We’ll eventually get on the flight and the Mountaineers will eventually fix what beat them last night. It’s just part of the process of growing up as a basketball team. Right now, the Mountaineers are playing hard but lack an offensive identity. It really isn’t surprising if you think about it. We are in the midst of a role evolution. Complementary players in the past like Alex Ruoff, Da’Sean Butler, and Wellington Smith are now being asked to become go-to players. Talented freshmen like Kevin Jones, Devin Ebanks, and Darryl “Truck” Bryant are making the adjustment from high school to the college game.
The bad news is you can’t hurry the evolution - the good news is that the talent is there to become a consistently good offensive basketball team. You can literally see the indecision on the faces of some players: should I shoot or should I pass?
Bob Huggins knows it, he sees it, and says he’ll fix it. And there’s no question he will. When you’ve coached in 843 games and stand fourth in total victories among active coaches you’ve seen this situation more than once.
Keep in mind that the Mountaineers devote so much time to defense in practice that the offense just doesn’t develop as quickly. It’s a trade-off, but with the Mountaineers lack of size they must be very good defensively in order handle the very tall challenges that lie ahead.
So for now, be patient and let the evolution take its course. These Mountaineer players have an excellent chemistry, solid skill level, and work extremely hard. Those ingredients usually equal success - the only variable is time.