PITTSBURGH, Pa. — The Greentree Sportsplex, with only a net separating its basketball court from a gaggle of rugrats taking soccer lessons, is nothing like the gametime atmosphere of the WVU Coliseum.
But make no mistake, the knee-high kiddos weren’t the only group in training Monday night. Not when Mountaineers sophomores Eron Harris and Terry Henderson were experimenting at point guard for their teams on opening night of the Pittsburgh Pro-Am Summer League.
“It’s not my primary role, but if I had to do it, I’ll do anything to win,” said Henderson. “If that means playing point and taking over the game, I’m going to do it.”
Though Henderson displayed some takeover flashes—pouring in a team-high 18 points—his Oliverio Peppers squad crumpled in the final minute and turned a three-point lead into a 76-72 loss. Still, Henderson might recall opening night less for its result and more for his matchups against Pitt point guard James Robinson, who was among the final cuts last week from the USA U19 squad bound for Prague.
WVU’s point guard duties figure to be shared primarily by Juwan Staten and Gary Browne. But neither of them are participating in the summer league and, more importantly, neither has given defenses much cause to worry. (Browne shot only 32 percent last season while Staten finished at 37 percent, including 0-of-9 from 3-point range.) Their other common shortcoming is that both are generously listed at 6-foot-1, whereas Henderson and Harris are 6-3 should Bob Huggins opt to deploy a longer lineup.
“If Huggs wants to put a big lineup, I’m probably going to have to bring the ball up a bit,” said Henderson, who averaged 8.0 points per game last season at WVU. “You never who we’ll play — they might press full court and require me to go get the ball and set up the offense.”
Harris actually seems more likely to become the big-lineup point guard. After emerging as the most encouraging factor from the Mountaineers’ 13-19 campaign, Harris beat his coaches to the punch by suggesting he should point guard.
“I kind of brought it to their attention myself, and they said, ‘We want you to take that initiative because we want to play big,'” Harris said. “I played some point guard in AAU, but at the college level, obviously, it’s a lot different. I’m working on becoming a real point guard.”
To that end, Harris said he needs to work on a rather obvious skill—his ballhandling—after being primarily a catch-and-shoot player as a freshman.
“I think I have the IQ and the vision,” he said. “I’ve just go to work on my handle.”
Though Harris scored 14 points in helping The Lair to an 87-86 victory, he was hounded by a familiar opponent—Duquesne point guard Derrick Colter. Last Dec. 11, the 5-foot-11 sophomore had 12 points and seven assists in the Dukes’ 60-56 comeback win over WVU.
“The guy that was guarding me tonight was half my size,” cracked Harris, “so I’ve got to keep working on staying low and keeping my guard on.”