Bob Huggins has three transfers who are eligible for the first time this season.
On Saturday, in a made for television game against Michigan at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, Huggins had already left center Aaric Murray back in Morgantown when he kept Matt Humphrey on the bench for the entire game. The third transfer, Juwan Staten, played 35 minutes as the Mountaineers lost, 81-66, to the unbeaten Wolverines.
Murray is a transfer from LaSalle. Humphrey comes from Boston College and Staten was last at Dayton.
Terry Henderson and Eron Harris are both freshmen. Volodymyr Gerun is a first-year player from the Ukraine who was getting his first minutes of the season against Michigan.
Dominique Rutledge and Kevin Noreen have played very little in past seasons.Sophomores Keaton Miles, Jabarie Hinds, Aaron Brown, and Gary Browne were with last year’s team. Deniz Kilicli is an inconsistent center with limited defensive skills who has shown barren seasons at the free throw line.Huggins has been rankled by a loss to a less than ordinary Duquesne team that just got butchered by 22 points on Saturday by Robert Morris.
When the first 10 minutes of the Michigan game found West Virginia floundering with their half-court offense, Huggins brought in Rutledge and Gerun. Rutledge simply can’t shoot. His rebounds and personal fouls are about the same in number. Any team with Rutledge on the floor is a desperate team.
West Virginia’s front court players are all inconsistent with the exceptions of Rutledge and Miles. And neither of them can score.
Noreen and Gerun are going to be exposed by most opponents. Kilicli has the same roughhewn style he had as a freshman and now he’s senior. He can’t be counted on to be helpful for a whole game or a whole half.
If the Mountaineers are forced into a half-court game where their offense needs the proper spacing, quality passes that lead directly to an open shot, or players who can make 45 percent of their shots, scoring is very difficult.
Hinds is a poor shooter whose shot selection is often questionable. Neither Brown nor Browne can provide many positive minutes. Humphrey doesn’t rebound, do much defending, and rarely makes an assist pass.
Huggins can’t put a polished, in-control, five-man team on the floor. All 13 of his players have areas made raw with off-line shooting, defensive shortcomings, poor passing, or lack of calm and calculated play.
On-floor leadership is missing.
No matter which five players Huggins calls on, there is never an effective blend of scorers, defenders, and rebounders. Never.
Players attempt to do what they can on their own. And the other four players on the floor with that individual can never be sure where his attempt will lead.
Most minutes seem disjointed. Mistakes are repeated, not discarded. Positive results aren’t often found. And when they are, they can’t become part of the game’s flow because nobody knows why they happended.
The point guards are not calming influences.
Without a trusted and influential point guard, the flawed minutes just keep coming.
With so many inconsistencies, finding five players to take most of the game’s minutes is nearly impossible. Should a player do well for a time, he might be in foul trouble and be removed.
Some players show they can’t be trusted that night and they are removed after a few minutes.
Against Michigan, it was Henderson and Harris that proved to be the most effective. And they are the freshmen.
If Rutledge, Noreen, Miles, and Brown are used for many minutes, this will remain a team that has real trouble scoring and –in conference play — winning often enough.
Thirteen players. And all with rough edges and without much trusted leadership.