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Staten shoulders much of WVU’s load

By Staff | Jan 24, 2014

What is the source of most of West Virginia’s offense? Juwan Staten.

Where does the West Virginia offense get its guidance? Juwan Staten.

Who is the team’s second-leading rebounder? Juwan Staten with 6.2 rebounds a game.

And Staten is among the national leaders in assists with 5.9 a game. He also makes 53.2 percent of his field goal attempts.

Staten averages 17.2 points a game, second to Eron Harris and his 17.6 points a game figure.

There is little doubt the Mountaineers would be searching for more of everything it takes to win Big 12 Conference games if Staten weren’t their guiding light.

As it is, West Virginia was 10-8 overall and 2-3 in conference games this past Wednesday when it had a return meeting with Texas Tech at the Coliseum. One of the two conference wins was in Lubbock against the Red Raiders, another team that had a 2-3 conference record.

Counting the home date against Texas Tech, the Mountaineers still had 13 conference games remaining. Most of the schedule was still ahead of them. Could anything or anybody be found to compliment Staten’s all-round contributions?

Eighteen games into the season and no player had sounded a trumpet from mountains announcing his presence as a rebounder, accurate shooter, reasonable scorer, calming and intelligent force or bare-knuckle defensive player.

There are only seven others who might bring another consistent hand to join with Staten’s.

Devin Williams and Brandon Watkins are both 6-foot-10 centers who show their freshmen mistakes and shallow experience all too often. Neither will find a higher level of consistency over the final 13 games. Williams makes only 54.9 percent of his free throws and 42.4 percent of his field goal tries. Watkins makes 55.6 percent of his free throws and 41.8 percent of his field goal attempts.

Remi Dibo is wildly inconsistent. He disappears at times and despite being 6-foot-7 does too little rebounding. One thing Dibo has done is make his free throws at a 91.7 percent rate. But he makes only 41.7 percent of his field goal attempts.

Nathan Adrian and Kevin Noreen were both frontcourt starters for most of the pre-conference games. Noreen simply doesn’t score enough to warrant his 2.2 rebounds a game. He averages more personal fouls a game than rebounds, and that won’t often beat Kansas, Oklahoma State, Kansas State, Texas, Oklahoma or slumping Baylor.

Adrian is a defensive liability, but has rebounded at times. His field goal and free throw percentages are both in need of quick improvement.

That leaves too much of the needed scoring on the backs and shooting arms of three guards — Staten, Eron Harris and Terry Henderson. If Harris (80 percent from the free throw line and 40.7 percent on three-point tries) usually scores well enough, why can’t he play more than 30 minutes a game? His turnovers are too many, his defense is too exasperating and his rebounding isn’t enough.

Henderson scores a little more than 11 points a game. And he makes 81 percent of his free throws on a team that makes only 69.7 percent of its foul shots. But the rebounds, assists, defense and overall game management are left to others.

Eight players. Five of them are so unpredictable that giving them more than five or six minutes at a time usually goes wholly unrewarded. Staten is no All-America. But if he leaves the floor, West Virginia’s offense is unreliable and often unproductive. Harris might score 25 points one night and 10 in the next game, going 4-for-16 from the field. Henderson can look like an NBA-type shooter from long range, but in the next breath look like a matador on defense.

The Big 12 is a league where six of the nine teams will likely make it into the NCAA Tournament.

Winning against any of them usually requires more than a bag full of three-point field goals and breaking even in the rebounding. Defense is required. An overall savvy is required. Forty minutes (or more) of team-wide effort and intelligence are required.

There were 13 conference games remaining. Enough games to make friends and influence people … if Staten can find others to make enough contributions.