Warts and turnovers everywhere: Help needed for ‘Beetle’
SHEPHERDSTOWN — Derek Culver has been suspended indefinitely.Trey Doomes has never gotten into a game. Taevon Horton from Fairmont West High has been allowed to play in three games.
Jermaine Haley has 10 assists and 10 turnovers. Emmitt Mathews, Jr. in his seven games has gone 0-for-5 on his three-point attempts. The 6-foot-9 Andrew Gordon was noticed in the Pitt game, because he received a technical foul. Jordan McCabe, a point guard, is making 24 percent of his field goal attempts, and attracted attention only with his inability to handle the ball and contribute anything against pressure defense.
Those are seven of West Virginia’s basketball recruits for the 2018-2019 season.
Brandon Knapper, an in-state recruit from South Charleston last season, has 21 assists and 21 turnovers, and has been severely lacking against pressure defenses.
Chase Harler has started all nine games, but his shooting is always questionable, as is his calming effect against any sort of defense.
Wesley Harris is a returnee whose existence depends on how he fares as the point man on any full-court press, having started only five times. Lamont West has made only four starts and his 6-foot-8 frame is too often wandering around somewhere on the perimeter.
Esa Ahmad had seven turnovers against Pitt. He once went 0-for-5 from the foul line. And he’s a sure starter for the beleaguered Mountaineers.
Effort comes from Logan Routt. And he’s finally gotten a grasp on what’s going on around him. He plays because he tries and he is unselfish.
Sagaba Konate is the lone forward/center with any half-court defensive skills. Foul troubles often limit his playing time, but mostly he makes his free throws.
And that leaves us with James “Beetle” Bolden. Without positives from point guards Knapper, McCabe and Harler, it has been Bolden who has been asked to score from the perimeter, somehow hold the half-court offense together and be the team glue when facing back-court pressure defenses.
None of the seven first-year recruits has added to a player mixture that can get Big 12 Conference wins, especially on the road in Lawrence, Fort Worth, Ames, Lubbock and Austin. Winning at Oklahoma State, Oklahoma, Kansas State or even Waco will be gut-wrenching enough.
Buffalo (in Morgantown), Western Kentucky and Florida have beaten the Mountaineers.
Usually a positive has been West Virginia’s free throw accuracy. There can be no backsliding in that category.
Bolden has been injured. Konate has missed time with injuries.
Where will the comfortable conference games come from — if at all? If Bolden scores 28 and Konate scores another 20, there might be a rare day in January or February where a conference home game can be won by 15 points.
Will anything positive ever come from McCabe, Gordon, Matthews, Jr., Horton, Doomes, Culver or Haley? Haley might provide a few secure minutes.
Bolden can’t afford to be ordinary or to falter. That’s an extraordinary responsibility for a player recruited to make three-point shots.