WVU Freshmen Stand Out in Lost Season - WVU Football, WVU Basketball, News - Mountaineer Sports

WVU Freshmen Stand Out in Lost Season

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MORGANTOWN -

West Virginia's freshmen, like many young athletes who dominate in high school, are growing through the trials that a longer, tougher college schedule brings.

In year one with West Virginia, they have also become accustomed to losing in a way that no other Bob Huggins team before them had to endure.

It can be a lesson learned the hard way if the expectation is that it may continue, but clearly the head coach and his pupils plan on bucking what has become a trend in the past year and a half and get back to winning basketball and the top half of their conference standings.

Eron Harris and Terry Henderson were brought in to be pieces of the puzzle, scorers to finish what a more mature, yet still young, nucleus seemed to promise. When that nucleus appeared as though it had not only failed to advance, but in many instances regressed, the freshmen saw their roles increase out of necessity.

The scoring spree Henderson went on in Brooklyn against the No. 3 Michigan Wolverines was a coming out party of sorts, despite the loss, and his purpose in recruiting – a guy who can knock down a perimeter shot – looked like an accurate assessment that could pay off big time.

The problem was a bad back and from the time that he suffered the injury on, his points have decreased. He led WVU with 20 against Kansas, three shy of a career-high, but when a game is so out of hand, no one will receive praise for statistics mostly gained with the blowout already in motion.

Still, on a team desperate for shooters, Henderson is shooting the sixth-best 3-point percentage in the Big 12, connecting on 40 percent from long range.

"Those two freshmen have made shots," Huggins said of Henderson and Harris, who ranks 18th in Big 12 3-point shooting percentage. "I think it's not a fair statement to say we have no shooters. Obviously, if you look at the statistics, we do."

Harris has shown flashes in a number of areas, including his demeanor. He's a fine basketball player and the best West Virginia has at creating his own shot or working a defender one-on-one and those traits have become more and more evident as the season wears on.

But he possesses an attitude and some showmanship that could one day turn the Indianapolis native into a star. That may have happened already this season if the rest of the team were having success around him.

"I thought Eron was going to be a really good player. I didn't think it would be this year," Huggins admitted. "Honestly, we thought our sophomores would be way better and they haven't been. We thought the transfers were going to come in and make a big impact and to this point, they have not … You don't think you are going to end up in Big 12 games putting two freshmen in on the floor and counting on those guys to score for you, but that is what happened."

Harris has taken advantage of the position he's been forced into ahead of the timeline Huggins envisioned for him.

"I think what's most impressive is that people are really trying to gear their defense to stop him," Huggins said. "He's been our most consistent scorer. They are still going to worry about Deniz and try to combat Deniz's size inside, but he is getting their better perimeter defender night in and night out."

The resulting numbers have Harris leading the Mountaineers with 9.4 points per game for the season while averaging the most minutes on the team since Big 12 play began.

At the same time, he continues to ask for the opposing team's best player as his defensive assignment. It is evident that he hasn't mastered all it takes to hang with whoever that may be, but the eagerness he's shown to carry his game over to what Huggins covets the most will only help keep him on his coach's good side.

"I think his game will continue to expand and get better and he's a guy that will work at it. He puts in the time," said Huggins.

The time he has and Henderson have put in this season simply hasn't been enough to overcome all of the deficiencies that the team as a whole is facing.

"For me, as a freshman, I just think it's a trial. We're going to go through trials, and this is a big learning thing for me," said Harris. "Next year, I'll know how to fix things, and I'll be more of a leader and move into that role. I'll make sure next year that a lot of these things aren't happening."

Huggins is counting on Harris and Henderson to do just that. His hope is that the two who will be sophomores next year will meet the expectations he put on the players who currently hold that classification.  

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