Henderson Returns with Eyes on the Prize for WVU - WVU Football, WVU Basketball, News - Mountaineer Sports

Henderson Returns with Eyes on the Prize for WVU


Terry Henderson stepped onto the court in Morgantown to a thunderous ovation from appreciative fans who understood just how much his absence hurt the team.

West Virginia played four games without the sophomore guard, who sat due to illness until he was cleared to see some action against Kansas. He finished that game with four points on 2-of-4 shooting in 15 minutes of action.

On Wednesday morning, he joined the rest of the Mountaineers at the team shootaround and he looked far more like the Henderson of old, rather than the one who gingerly took part in warm-ups before WVU faced Oklahoma on the road or the one who sat and watched for the majority of the home win over the Jayhawks.

"He's better. He's not close to 100 percent," said WVU head coach Bob Huggins. "His weight's not back yet, his stamina's not back."

Henderson lost upwards of 18 pounds in the time that he was sick with what he called, simply, "a regular illness." Now, he is nearing the end of the process to get back to where he was before the bug hit. It's a slow one, but he is hopeful that the results this week will make the road to this point worth it.

"I've pretty much been getting my weight back and getting stronger to where I was," said Henderson. "I just want to come out and end this last stretch strong. It's the last part of my sophomore season. It's crazy because I remember just coming in last year as a freshman, so shocked and eye opening. I just want to finish strong and walk away with a trophy."

The plan for Thursday night's game against Texas and any games that may follow is just as it was when the Mountaineers faced KU in the regular season finale, according to the head coach.

"We'll do what we did before: throw him in and see what he does and how he holds up and hopefully he's better," said Huggins.

On the season, Henderson has been one of West Virginia's most effective weapons. He averages 11.8 points per game, good for third-best on the team. When he is doing well, WVU tends to do well. When he is cold, it's up to the rest of the Mountaineers to carry the weight without him.

Against Texas, Henderson put up 26 total points this season.

He recognizes the tendency and that his game could provide a very serious lift to the No. 6 seed in the tournament on Thursday.

"I look at myself as kind of like the x-factor. I've really got to step up and play my game, but I'm not going to force anything, just try to play within the team concept and help my team on both ends of the court – on defense, too."

Henderson believes a big part of his role against a team with the size that the Longhorns present will be to double-team post players like Cameron Ridley and Jonathan Holmes. He had better hope his weight is up if he intends to get physical in the paint with UT. 

Just a week ago, he was questioning whether or not he could even put on his warm-ups and shoot with his teammates before a game in Norman. It was difficult to watch from afar as the rest of the Mountaineers battled for their postseason lives and he could not contribute anything to the cause.

"It was hard not being around my fellas because they've been with my since day one," he said. "I even missed practice. As tough as weights are, I missed that, too. I knew once I got back that I had a job to do and I had to really get my mojo back and come back hard and finish strong."

WVU point guard Juwan Staten feels good about the prospect of getting Henderson back just in the nick of time before his addition was too late to make a difference.

"We have our full team back," said Staten. "I'd say we're playing some of our best basketball we've played all season and what better time to play like this [than] heading into conference tournament?"

If Thursday night ends with a loss, it is very likely also the end of any hope West Virginia still holds of playing in the NCAA Tournament. Henderson is aware of just how high the stakes are and that his play could help spark what the team wants to see turn into a happy Selection Sunday.

"I know this is the last stretch, so it's all or nothing at this point," said Henderson. "We go out here and play hard and hopefully leave with some hardware and everybody will be happy."

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