Staten, Murray Continue Making Strides for WVU - WVU Football, WVU Basketball, News - Mountaineer Sports

Staten, Murray Continue Making Strides for WVU


West Virginia is looking for consistency to get the team where it wants to be and on Wednesday, it found got that play from Juwan Staten and Aaric Murray.

The two transfers, who couldn't contribute a single minute to the cause a year ago, were the most impressive players in a 94-69 blowout win over VMI.

Staten lead all scorers with 18 points to go along with seven rebounds and three assists, while Murray added 13 points and nine boards.

Murray continues to show what natural athleticism and a well built frame can get a player, but he clearly has spells where he is out of position or out of breath. He will be the first to admit that though he is in his second year learning Huggins' system, he has yet to grasp all that he's been asked through five games.

"If I was to use a scale of one to 10, I would say I'm at a six, just from working hard and learning from Huggs and the rest of the coaches," Murray says candidly. "I need to work on my stamina and being consistent every play. If Coach needs me in there, [I need to] stay in there and not need oxygen, not need the mask to breathe."

It will not help at this point that Deniz Kilicli has found himself in foul trouble at times and both Dominique Rutledge and Kevin Noreen left Wednesday's game with sprained ankles. Murray will be asked to contribute even more in those instances and with that in mind, Huggins continues to insert him in the lineup whenever possible.

"He's not close, but he's making progress," Huggins said of Murray. "I don't need him to play hard after I call timeout and rip him, I need him to play hard all the time. He didn't start out playing very hard, didn't start out guarding very well and if we're going to be good, we need him to play 40 minutes."

The transfers were two of seven players to get into double digit scoring in a game that nearly saw WVU score 100 points for the first time since the 2005 season. Murray, Staten and Gary Browne are the only Mountaineers to have reached 10 or more points in three games.

"We got points in a lot of different ways," says Staten. "One thing that Coach was happy with, we created a lot of turnovers, which led to some offense. When you're scoring, the biggest thing is just to see the ball going through the rim. Once you get a couple of easy baskets, it's easy to make shots."

With Staten and Murray in particular, it seems as though there is a connection that runs deeper than what some of the others on the court share. Sure, they both sat out a year together, but the bond they've developed as roommates and on the same team in practice is showing now that they are logging real minutes.

"Whenever I'm driving, he knows to keep his hands ready, be ready for the ball," Staten says of Murray. "Whenever he gets rebounds, he knows that I'm the first one that's out and look up for the outlet pass. That's kind of something that we worked on being together for the last year."

The fact that Staten has become a player who can handle the ball up the court and either pass it or make a play on his own has proven to be an asset that helps the entire team.

Murray, for one, says he prefers that other teams see the threat a versatile Staten presents because when they respect his ability to score, other options will open up offensively.

"He played a lot better. He pushed the ball, which we need him to push the ball and get us easy opportunities," Huggins said of Staten. "We were kind of counting on him to get us easy baskets and today he did. Now, that's a little harder sometimes when people don't shoot all those threes and do a better job of getting back."

Clearly the Mountaineers will face better competition than what the Keydets brought to Morgantown and when they do, Staten and Murray will need to show that their performance on Wednesday can carry over to a tougher opponent.

For now, though, they remain two of the brightest spots on a team that is still on a quest to get itself back to .500 on the early season.

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