After watching his big men sink four 3-pointers against Virginia Tech — all of which proved crucial in a 68-67 victory — West Virginia coach Bob Huggins said they’ve earned a green light to keep shooting.
“I’m all for it,” Huggins said Monday on the Big 12 coaches teleconference. “They can’t miss any more than our guards have.”
WVU (4-3) came in shooting only 23 percent from 3-point range before hitting 10-of-24 against Virginia Tech. Center Aaric Murray and reserve forward Kevin Noreen each made 2-of-3 from long range.
“You don’t want them shooting shots that’s going to lead to a fast breaks on the other end, but (it’s allowable) as long as they’re within the context of what you’re trying to do,” Huggins said.
“I think Aaric’s problem early on was conditioning — he couldn’t make a 3-footer, much less shoot it from distance. He’s gotten in much better shape. He stayed afterwards without anybody saying anything to him yesterday and ran.”
While Huggins knew Murray possessed touch from the perimeter, the coach was surprised by Noreen’s willingness to take outside shots. During a recent scrimmage the 6-foot-10 sophomore made a 3-pointer only to have Huggins joke: “I just thought he was confused about where he was on the floor.”
But after Noreen confidently drained two 3s to spark a second-half surge against the Hokies, Huggins hopes the so-called garbage player will remain aggressive in the right situations.
“If he can step into shots and make shots the way he made shots the other day, he better shoot ‘em,’” Huggins said.
Baylor (5-3) has assumed the mantle of the league’s most mercurial team, winning at Kentucky but also suffering home upsets against College of Charleston and Northwestern along with a neutral-court loss to Colorado.
“Like most young teams you’re inconsistent early in the year,” said Bears coach Scott Drew, whose team has faced the 19th-toughest schedule in the nation, according to RealtimeRPI.com.
“Unfortunately when you test yourself, you leave yourself open for losses. We need to do a better job of closing out close games.”
Baylor’s weakness on the boards has been most stunning, getting out-rebounded 37-24 by Northwestern and 33-32 by Charleston.
No stat line from the first month of Big 12 basketball jumps out like that of Kansas center Jeff Withey, who has 45 blocks and only seven fouls through eight games.
“I didn’t realize it until last week when someone told me he had 40 and 6,” said Jayhawks coach Bill Self. “He does a good job of playing defense with his hand high.
“And though he does block his own man’s shot some, the majority of his blocks come from a help position or a secondary definer-type position. So there’s probably not the opportunity for much body contact, but it is a pretty remarkable stat.”
LONG YEAR FOR LONGHORNS
Texas point guard Myck Kabongo continues to sit out while the NCAA conducts a slow-moving probe into the details of who paid for his May workout in Cleveland with trainer Jerry Powell.
“It’s getting to the point where now we’re at the end of the term, and if we don’t hear something within the next couple days, yeah it will be frustrating, disappointing, whatever word you want to put on it,” said Longhorns coach Rick Barnes. “It’s time.”
Though Kabongo’s absence is daunting, it doesn’t fully excuse Texas (5-4) starting so poorly. An 86-73 loss to Division II Chaminade was the lowlight of a trip to the Maui Classic in which the Longhorns also lost to USC 59-53 in overtime. Subsequent losses came against Georgetown 64-41 at Madison Square Garden and against UCLA 65-63 in Houston, where Saturday’s game at Reliant Stadium drew a crowd of 2,797.
CYCLONE CHECK UP
Iowa State (7-3) has seen the best and worst of transfer guard Will Clyburn this season.
The 6-foot-7 senior dazzled while scoring 32 points in an 83-62 win over BYU and producing 21 points and 15 rebounds in an 82-70 loss at UNLV. He then was shutout on 0-for-5 shooting in last Friday’s 80-71 loss at Iowa.
Clyburn, who previously played at Utah, leads ISU in scoring at 14.9 points per game and stands second in rebounding at 7.9 — numbers that bely his inconsistency as he re-acclimates to game action after sitting out last season.
“It’s just a matter of making sure he’s 100-percent comfortable with everything out there on the floor,” said Cyclones coach Fred Hoiberg. “He really struggled at Iowa … but I’m confident in Will. I think he’s going to have a heck of a season. He’s our most versatile player and I think you’ll see big things out of him for the rest of the season.”
Oklahoma’s basketball program, which opened practices to the public last season, has embraced an even deeper level of transparency this season, live streaming some of its practices on the Internet.
“The response seems to be positive,” said Sooners coach Lon Kruger, who occasionally has been mic’d during the workouts. “That’s available to (recruits) for sure, and we talk about that in recruiting little bit.
“Also I think it’s good for the parents of the guys we have. For parents it’s fun to be able to sit there and catch your guy at practice each day if you don’t get a chance to see him on a daily basis.”