Mountaineers Try New Offense in Baylor Loss - WVU Football, WVU Basketball, News - Mountaineer Sports

Mountaineers Try New Offense in Baylor Loss

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MORGANTOWN -

Why not try to reinvent the wheel when it has already fallen off?

West Virginia sophomore forward Kevin Noreen made it clear that not all of his teammates knew how to run the offense they had been asked and the result was what has now pushed to a 13-15 record.

The discussion carried over into practice as the Mountaineers prepared to face Baylor, but along with it came a new vision and new responsibilities, not to mention a new starting lineup.

"I'm kind of proud of our guys. We just put in a new offense yesterday," Noreen said after the game. "It's really just ball screens, hand offs, back cuts, dribble hand offs and I think it was pretty effective tonight. We had a lot of looks at the basket, we had a lot of good, open shots. Didn't convert many of the open shots, but we got those layups and good looks with Turk [Deniz Kilicli] inside."

Kilicli finished the game just 1-of-7 from the field, but he did have quality looks at times and the threat that he presented inside opened looks outside. With 17 shots from behind the 3-point arc, WVU connected on just three.

What Noreen complained about most after the team fell to Oklahoma State, though, was that West Virginia could not run offense. The missed shots hurt, but the failure to know and run a set is what killed them. With this new look, one that had just been introduced a little over 24 hours before the game, the story changed a bit.

"Actually, I think we did a great job executing the offense for just putting it in, in a short period of time," sophomore guard Juwan Staten said of WVU's sets. "We just want to involve teams in a lot of pick and roll situations, get our guards going downhill, heading toward the rim, getting our bigs rolling, giving the defense just a lot to think about. Making them move, making them make decisions on the fly and I think we did a great job executing that today."

Noreen credits the staff for dissecting the Baylor tape and learning enough about the Bears to know that getting the offense moving in a different direction could prove to be effective. The Mountaineers have made it exceedingly simple for opponents to scout them, so the hope was that by bucking their own trends, they could catch a team off guard.

"They watch enough film as a staff and they saw what Baylor's tendencies are and how they played us last game," Noreen says. "We couldn't get much at the basket because they were sagging off so much, so they put in this and I think it was really good. It was really effective for us, but again, you lose by three, it's not what we want."

While both Noreen and Staten lauded the staff for implementing a game plan that put the players in position to get the victory, Huggins brushes off the change. After all, with the consistent movement in the lineup and the guess and check nature of this season, Wednesday's alterations were just part of a long list.  

"I've tried everything other than putting a peach basket up. It gave us better movement. It's the same old thing. They don't guard a couple of our guys and we haven't done a good enough job of making shots. We get shots. It's not like we don't get shots."

That part of the deficiencies this season cannot hide. Connecting on just 40 percent of their shots in 28 games, the Mountaineers have left points off of the scoreboard. Freshman Eron Harris continues to be the guy who shows the most proficiency at creating his own shot and knocking one down from time to time, but he is largely alone in that category.

Until that part of the offense accompanies the growth that goes into the rest of the possession leading up to it, the results won't show in the win-loss record.

"I've been in the gym trying to work on my shooting, Kevin's always in the gym working on his shooting, so are Eron and Terry [Henderson]," says Staten. "As a team, we just need to continue working on our shooting so that when we get our open shots, we can knock them down."

It's a problem that has plagued Huggins' teams since he returned to his alma mater. Wednesday's plan may not have been the solution, but if you ask the players, it was certainly a step in the right direction.

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