Chip Shots – No O

by Jim Buzzerd

No O

What was once a surprisingly promising season for the West Virginia University Men’s Basketball Team has taken a decided downturn as the Mountaineers have lost three in a row as this is being typed. WVU now sits at 18-7 Overall and 6-6 in Big 12 play. If someone told me in November WVU would have those records at this point of the season, I would have signed up for that. I mean this was a team that lost 21 games last year. But WVU got off to a great start and two weeks ago were regarded as a two seed by the NCAA selection committee. They are 0-3 since that announcement.

On the surface none of the three losses are glaring. Road games are tough in the Big 12, so a loss at Oklahoma isn’t the worst thing. Nor is losing to third ranked Kansas at home as the Mountaineers did last Wednesday 58-49. That would make a 70-59 loss at top ranked Baylor last Saturday no big surprise.

So, while losing to the first and third ranked teams in the country does not signal that the sky is falling, the way the WVU offense goes into deep sleeps is at least a little alarming. West Virginia was in good shape with Kansas leading 44-37 with 9:27 left in the game. WVU was outscored 21-5 from that point.

Don’t let the 11 point loss at Waco fool you. WVU trailed 33-22 at the half. Ten minutes later they found themselves down 53-25. From that point reserve guard Taz Sherman hit a barrage of three pointers to make the score somewhat respectable. WVU never led, never threatened and were never within one score after four minutes into the game.

Coach Bob Huggins has never been known as an offensive innovator, but this team needs an infusion of offense to get out of this funk. Huggins often says “we just have to make shots” and that is true, but maybe too simplified. While time constraints will prevent me going deep into the subject, my first suggestion would be to play two shooters a lot more. That would be Sherman and Sean McNeil.

They aren’t the only two that can make shots, but they were the top two junior college scorers last year and might be time to let them shoot the ball more without worrying that a miss may banish them back to the bench.

The next three games will be interesting. WVU hosted an improving Oklahoma state team last night. Then there is a Texas trip this weekend for a Saturday game with TCU at 2 p.m. and a Monday date with Texas at 7 p.m. WVU beat them by 32 and 38 points respectively earlier in Morgantown. The Frogs and Longhorns will be motivated. Both games are on ESPNU.

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