Huggins Still Sees Room to Improve Defensively
Morgantown, WV – The West Virginia Mountaineers have arguably one of, if not the best defense in the country. They rank second and third in defensive three-point (23.4) and field goal (35.3) percentages, limiting their opponent's assists to 8.7 per game, ranking them third in the NCAA and holding their opponents to 59.9 points per game.
However, after holding No. 22 Texas Tech to 28.4% from the floor, West Virginia head coach Bob Huggins said that the Mountaineer defense was “OK”, then followed it up saying that they “had to get more consistent in a whole lot of areas.”
He not only reiterated those sentiments on Monday during a teleconference but went into detail on what improvements he’s looking for in his defense.
“I think we can get a lot better,” said Huggins. “I think when we clean up our rotations. You know, are angles can become better. We still don’t take the best of angles. When we can get that straightened out, I think we’re going to be able to create more turnovers. We’re going to be able to get more live-ball turnovers. Then, I think then, we’re pretty good. But we sure haven’t got there yet.”
West Virginia is forcing 15.4 turnovers per game, ranking them 80 in the NCAA. Nonetheless, Huggins cites the slow development with his young team is depth.
“When you’re trying to get work out of 12 people, you get some standing around,” continued Huggins. “They don’t get as many reps as what you would if you had an eight- or nine-man rotation, or whatever. So, from that standpoint – but you know, the thing about it is, it's not like some groups you have, you know, they’re not standing over there in the corner drinking Gatorade, they’re standing there watching trying to learn. But maybe a part of that too is it's competitive for playing time.”
West Virginia senior guard Chase Harler is just one of the Mountaineers playing well on the defensive end, but again, he knows they can get better.
“We got to work on our closeouts,” said Harler. “We try to limit them getting the ball to the middle. And that’s pretty much our whole deal is no ball in the middle. Every game they keep tallies of how many times they get the ball in the middle. We kind of base our defense on that and try to keep that number as low as possible. Keep them out of the middle as much as possible and that kind of leads to a good defensive game.”
The Mountaineers have held 13 out of their 15 opponents to 40.0% or lower from the field. Kansas shot 40.4%, while Rhode Island attacked the rim and hit an efficient 48.5 percent.
West Virginia is back in action Tuesday night at 9:00 as they host TCU (12-3, 3-0) on ESPNU.