The proverbial tide seems to have turned for WVU’s basketball team.
Yet Mountaineer coach Bob Huggins is still seeking, still searching for scoring.
His team leader, Jevon Carter, is slumping in the area, hitting 5 of 17 (29.4 percent) against Oklahoma and 2 of 8 (25 percent) against Kansas State, although contributing mightily in other areas.
That’s why a 3-point first-half barrage from Lamont West against the Sooners was uplifting for Huggins. To a point.
“He’s done a lot better,” Huggins said of West on Thursday’s Big 12 teleconference. “Obviously, we’d like him to shoot more consistently. He had that one little flurry and then had some really good looks in the second half and it didn’t go down. We just have to keep working with him.”
West missed three second-half attempts from the distance and finished with 17 points in WVU’s 75-73 win.
“You can’t think yourself through a jump shot,” Huggins said. “It has to be neuromuscular integration and hopefully he’ll be able to do that.
“He can score. Anytime you can put a guy on the floor who can score that bodes well for you. We just have to keep working with him, keep working with Wes [Harris]. I think Esa [Ahmad] is getting better and feeling more comfortable. It’s really the whole group.
“I’d like to get Chase [Harler] playing the way Chase was playing earlier.”
Huggins said he was particularly pleased with one aspect of the Mountaineers’ play in the win over the Sooners.“I thought we defended pretty well against Oklahoma,” said the coach. “You hold them 35 points or whatever it was under their home average and you know you’ve done a pretty good job. I thought we were more aggressive defensively, which we needed to be. JC was terrific obviously with six steals.”
South Charleston native Brandon Knapper continues to bide time while rehabilitating his torn meniscus. He does go through on-court warm-ups at all home games and even most on the road, although he didn’t travel to Oklahoma because of the flu.“It’s tough for me because I’m sitting out a year,” Knapper said. “I’m basically just waiting for next year and learning from Jevon Carter and Daxter Miles and Beetle [Bolden].
“I mean, learning the system they’ve learned over the couple years from Huggs. Just basically learning and going with the flow. Coach Huggs tells me every day to watch film and try to get as much done as possible.”
Knapper cringes when recalling the injury.
“I was working out and took the wrong step and felt something pop,” he said. “I tried to work on it for a couple days after that, but then the doctor told me I should go get it checked. I had an MRI and it said I had a torn meniscus.”
Still, the guard’s hopes were up. At least for a short time.
“Right before surgery they said it could be a slight tear or it could be a bad tear,” he said. “It could be four to six months [out], but if it was a slight tear it could only be two weeks on crutches. And right after the surgery I found out it was bad news.”
By all accounts, though, Knapper is handling the situation well.
“It’s been very difficult,” he said. “But you have to stay positive. I’ve talked to my parents and grandparents. They say to stay positive and basically take in everything like a sponge.”