January 4, 2013

Non-conference Basketball Review

What's Happened

It has been an up and down first half of the season for the West Virginia Men's Basketball squad. After starting out the year with high hopes, thanks to the return of numerous players from the previous season and the inclusion of three highly-touted transfers, Head Coach Bob Huggins was apparently just in hyping the team early as a potential Final Four sleeper.

However, once play started on the court it became clear that the future hall of fame coach may have his work cut out in 2013. The Mountaineers have struggled thus far in the season finding a consistent threat on offense and defense, leading to a 7-5 record entering Big 12 Conference play.

Victories against previously-undefeated Virginia Tech and in-state rival Marshall highlight the Mountaineer's resume thus far, while devastating losses to Davidson and Duquesne place a dark cloud over West Virginia's potential tournament hopes come March.

Non-conference play was not a complete disaster for the Mountaineers, however, as Huggins and his boys have shown improvement on certain areas; namely free throw shooting.

After struggling mightily at time in the early slate of games, the Mountaineers have improved tenfold from the charity stripe, with last week's victory over Eastern Kentucky a prime example. The Mountaineers went 32-39 from the line, 25 of which came in the second half.

Considering the comeback Eastern Kentucky mounted over the shell-shocked West Virginia squad, the ability to knock down easy opportunities from the free throw line proved to be vital. After the debacle against Davidson in the Old Spice Classic, where the Mountaineers shot a meager 47 percent from the line, Coach Huggins placed added emphasis on the charity stripe, forcing his players to end each practice session with 100-made free throws and contributing to the improvement across the board.

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