If the 2012-13 edition of West Virginia University’s men’s basketball team were a stock, there would be some very disappointed stockholders out there. At least those who bought the stock at the beginning of the season when Coach Bob Huggins pooh phooed the notion that his squad would finish no better than sixth in its inaugural season in the 10 team Big 12 Conference as the Big 12 media poll suggested.
Huggins didn’t say where he thought his team would stack up, but it was clear that he thought it would be better than sixth place. When the veteran coach talks about one of his teams in such a positive manner like that, it is easy to buy in.
Well, the non-conference portion of the schedule is over and a home loss to conference foe Oklahoma are in the books and the Mountaineers, sitting at 7-6, don’t look like a good buy right now. The schedule has been difficult, but this team is struggling in so many areas that Huggins and his team look like a long shot to finish in the top six in the Big 12 at this point.
Oklahoma, who beat the Mountaineers 77-70 in the Old Spice Classic in November, served as West Virginia’s opponent in their first ever Big 12 Conference game last Saturday in the WVU Coliseum. WVU took and early second half lead at 43-31 and ended up losing 67-57. It is unclear what Huggins saw in this team during the pre-season that gave him such optimism, but the reality is that his team is in some real trouble.
In a 60-56 loss at Duquesne the Mountaineers blew a double-digit lead. In a 74-67 win over Eastern Kentucky WVU lost another double-digit lead and trailed late before rallying in the final minutes. West Virginia’s shooting problems have been well documented through 13 games, but there is more to fix than shooting.
Below are some numbers to digest that illustrate what the Mountaineers are doing in relation to other Division one schools, and they show why WVU is struggling as much as they are.
*98 teams block a higher percentage of shots than WVU.
*157 teams force more turnovers than WVU.
*175 teams grab a higher percentage of defensive rebounds than WVU.
*192 teams defend two-point field goals better than WVU.
*206 teams defend three-point field goals better than WVU.
*280 teams make a higher-percentage of two-point field goals than WVU.
*301 teams make a higher-percentage of three-point field goals than WVU.
As you can see WVU is very poor at shooting the basketball as we already knew, but their defense is no better than the middle of the pack among Division 1 schools as well. Anyone that has followed Huggins’ career knows that playing poor defense will not bode well for a player. You can hear the tension and frustration in his interviews.
Looking from the outside, it’s not a pretty picture.