|Terry Henderson scored a team-best 19 points in West Virginia's most recent win against William & Mary, mostly on shot attempts close to the basket.
|All-Pro Photography/Dale Sparks photo
Take a look at a shooting chart for Terry Henderson
this year and you will notice that it is slightly different than last year’s.
First off, Henderson has not shot the ball as well from 3 this season, hitting 30.4 percent of his triples compared to 40 percent last year, including shooting 46 percent in Big 12 play to rank second in the conference as a freshman.
Yet this year Henderson is actually shooting a better overall percentage (46.4 percent compared to 43.7 percent last year) because he is becoming a more well-rounded player.
The sophomore is beginning to harness his tremendous athletic ability in ways beyond just hanging out on the perimeter and soaring to the rim whenever the opportunity presents itself. Now, he’s posting up smaller players close to the basket, getting weakside tip-ins and put-backs because he’s learning how to score in ways besides just hanging out on the wing and waiting for his teammates to get him the basketball.
Henderson and Eron Harris
are the two players on this year’s team most equipped to score from anywhere on the floor, and Henderson says he is beginning to see the value in his expanded game.
“That’s just one of the things that I wanted to put in my game,” Henderson said earlier this week. “It’s something I’ve been working on this past summer and staying after practice some days working on my close range (game) like jump hooks, and hopefully I’ll get the chance to use it more when we get into conference play so I can just mix up the defenses. Hopefully they won’t know what I’m going to do.”
West Virginia coach Bob Huggins believes it is sometimes easier getting a player’s long-range shooting stroke going when they start out by making a couple of close ones.
“There is so much psychology involved in it; sometimes you get two layups and you miss a jumper and you still think you’re playing pretty well and got it going,” he explained. “I think in the games when Terry has shot it well he has gotten some layups. He’s got some transition baskets and some follows.”
Keep in mind, a college player playing with his back to the basket is almost totally foreign these days because guys are simply not being asked to do it anymore.
When was the last time you saw Youtube highlights from an AAU game where a player is close to the basket posting up his opponent? No, it’s all dunks and open-court play.
“I never played with my back to the basket,” Henderson admitted. “I was always a jump shooter. I’m starting to put the ball on the floor a little bit more now, but as far as back to the basket, no, that’s something I’ve had to work on.”
Henderson’s newfound close-range game was actually a weapon in the Mountaineers’ most recent victory against William & Mary, despite his continuing struggles from behind the arc. Henderson was only 1 of 4 from 3, yet he still led the team in scoring with 19 points – mostly on shots close to the basket and at the free throw line when he was fouled attempting those close ones.
Although just 6-3, Henderson is athletic enough to help West Virginia around the rim, either by posting up smaller players or by getting weakside rebounds. That’s why Huggins was so upset with Henderson when he didn’t record a single board in West Virginia’s three-point loss to Purdue 13 days ago.
“It killed me all break,” admitted Henderson. “My dad was on me and Huggs was on me. You can’t go a game without getting one rebound and I knew that that was bad. It probably won’t happen again.”
“That was a point of emphasis to him is you’ve got to help us rebound the ball,” added Huggins. “He’s very capable because he’s very athletic. You take seven jump shots and you make one and you say, ‘I’m having an awfully bad day here.’ But go score a couple of layups instead and all of a sudden you’re 3 for 7 and it’s not all that bad.”
Huggins pointed out that some of the greatest guards in the game eventually learned how to play down low with their backs to the basket when their skills began to erode.
“You look at arguably the best two scoring guards in the last however many years, when Michael (Jordan) was getting old he started putting people on his back and scoring in the post. When Kobe (Bryant) has gotten older he’s put people on his back and scored in the post, I think, to the point where both of them spent time with (Hakeem) Olajuwon,” Huggins said. “You try and make guys aware of that but I think they are already aware of that. That’s an awfully valuable option for you.”
Today, West Virginia begins Big 12 Conference play against TCU – a team with two young, up-and-coming bigs in Amric Fields and Karviar Shepherd.
The Mountaineers are going to need all hands on deck to help slow those two guys down, and Terry Henderson
is athletic enough and capable enough to help out whenever the opportunity presents itself.
“You’ve got to add to your game each year, I feel like. That’s what great players do and that’s what I’m trying to do. That’s just part of me and my game getting more mature,” Henderson concluded.