COMMENTARY

COLUMBIA, Mo. — In one brash and telling moment, Eron Harris tried to fulfill his calling as West Virginia’s top scorer. Tried to lift his team and himself out of a malaise. Tried to cut into Missouri’s 17-point lead. Tried to do too much.

A one-on-one wiggle, followed by a step-back 3-pointer.

It was Harris at his most hungry and desperate, determined and undisciplined. Harris, ultimately, at his most ineffective.

Missouri’s Jabari Brown blocked the shot, leading to an easy transition dunk by Jordan Clarkson. Even as Harris collected the ball on the opposite baseline he sensed what was nearing.

Timeout Bob Huggins. Exit Eron Harris.

“You ever see Ray Allen dribble between his legs and shoot fade-aways? No,” Huggins told Harris. “And he’s the greatest 3-point shooter in the history of the NBA. You do what you do. You do what you’re good at.”

Benched with 18:22 left to play, Harris—the Big 12′s second-leading scorer at 20.2 points per game—didn’t return until the 8:48 mark. What did Huggs hope his developing star might gain from 10 minutes of reflection?

“Eron has got to be Eron Harris,” the coach said. “Eron Harris is pretty good, but he’s got to be Eron Harris—he can’t be somebody else. When he’s somebody else he’s not very good.”

On a night Harris clearly pitched as a measurement for himself and WVU’s program-in-recovery, the sophomore played a season-low 19 minutes, scored a season-low eight points, attempted a season-low six shots.

“It’s hard to shoot from where he was most of the game,” joked Huggins. “Not going to get many shots from over there.”


Regarding that extended stint on the bench, Harris responded with proper grip—feeling angrier with himself than his coach. The kid who has been so dogged, energized and resolute about making WVU a winner again, realized he stepped outside himself.

“I was just trying to get myself going,” he said of the forced 3-pointer. “(Missouri) keyed on me and I really couldn’t get any rhythm shots that I usually get. So I got into a create-a-shot-for-myself type of mode. And those aren’t shots that I usually take, so I looked bad.”

Looking bad became fashionable for several Mountaineers on Thursday night, when Mizzou threatened to chase WVU out of the arena. While affording cursory credit to the still-unbeaten Tigers, Huggins cited his own team’s sluggish passing and mismanaged possessions.

The West Virginia team that entered the Big 12/SEC Challenge averaging 85 points and ranked No. 3 nationally in 3-point accuracy? It scored one point in the opening eight minutes and missed 15-of-19 from 3 and went on to lose the game 80-71. It shot 27 percent in the first half and promptly missed 5-of-6 to begin the second half—including the out-of-sync jumper that sent Harris to the sideline.

“We didn’t score seemingly for about an hour-and-a-half. So I would say we shot ourselves in the foot—or blew our head off, whatever you want to write,” Huggins said.

“We took horrible shots. And it wasn’t like we had to take them at the end of the shot clock. We had time to get better ones.”

While Huggins has invested heavy trust in appointing Harris and point guard Juwan Staten the alpha dogs of this team, their development necessitates playing to their strengths and knowing their limits otherwise. Both players ambitiously tried operating outside the system at times against Mizzou, with Staten forcing more bad passes in the span of two hours than he had the previous eight games.

“You would hope that they would stay more in-character,” said Huggins. “Obviously, they didn’t tonight.”

No, but once Harris returned to the court he made two driving layups and scored six points—part of a never-say-die run that got Mizzou’s attention during the final minute.

And though WVU dropped its sixth straight road game dating back to last February, there also is this flicker of good news: The next game’s at home.

On Tuesday. Against Gonzaga.

A high-functioning team that can give a clinic on staying in character.


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Comments

  • Brian

    I said, about 10 days or so ago, that the Zags are going to be a very good litmus test for this team.
    When everyone was talking about how much better we are - by beating glorified high school teams - and that WVU is a Dance team this year (I knew we'd lose to Wisc. and figured Mizzo was a highly probable loss) that GU would kinda be the Maginot for me.

    Lose the Zags game and we are NO WAY NCAA bound - hold on and win, we have a chance.
    A loss to them puts WVU nearly where we were last year in mid December against similiar competition(6-5 to 7-5 range).

    The absolute best adage in athletics: "You are, who your record says you are."

    We lose to either Purdue or Marshall, we may not even see the NIT. Great progress huh?
    Yea, I know; "if you knew anything about BBall, blah,blah, blah" or "we'll be great NEXT year, blah, blah blah."

    • Troll is back

      The difference as to why this team is better this year is that they beat your so called high school teams handedly as opposed to struggling with them as last years team. Still may not be where we need to be with the big boys but it's obvious that they are a better team this year

    • Mister Man

      Blah, blah, blah seems to be your entire post.

    • stevewvu

      Typical post from a typical Marshall troll

  • squad

    hard to watch. looked like last year for the first half. don't know why staten stayed in the whole game. he was not running the show the right way most of the first half. they looked like they were physically afraid of Missouri. that's what bothered me. they were unable to get good shots in the first half. no movement.. Adrian was ok, Williams was ok most of the time.. looked like to me-a very bad sign-Staten and Harris appeared to be the most unglued of anyone (Noreen also) last night. they allowed the team to physically push them away from the basket and comfortable shooting positions. the ball movement was very poor in the first half especially...we had no shots in 1st half much at all..missouri looked like the way we used to do defense...i'm worried about harris mental swings...we had a couple of these moments last year with him. he should be mentally stronger than he shows. he is supposed to be a leader. I think he said rather cockily at the years start that he wanted to see who was going to fight with him. these mental breakdowns, tantrums really are a problem for eron. once he gets them out of the way, who knows what could happen. we cant have him show this kind of reaction on the court like this again. it cant happen again. this guy is our leading scorer and a team leader and leaders keep their cool under pressure.

  • Big Larry

    Your leading scorer sits the bench for half the game?

    As Eron Harris goes, the team goes. Eron Harris has had two (2) back to back...off shooting nights. 14 against Loyola and 8 against Missouri. It happens to the very best. But you cannot shoot the ball sitting on the Bench holding hands with your teammates.

    He has to score 20 points per game in order for WVU to be successful against the stiffer competition.

    If he doesn't score 20 per game, WVU is not going to win very many games from here on out...That's just how it is.

    League play has yet to begin and WVU is currently in 8th place (won/loss) in the Big 12.

    Look for WVU to go 3-2 over the next 5 games which will leave their record at 9-5 heading into league play with no "signature" wins.

    At the same time last year their record was 7-5 heading into league play.

    This years team appears to much better shooting wise. Staten and Brown are both much improved. However they have only one big who can play and that is Devin Williams. But he needs help and there is really no one to help other than Noreen who seldom plays under the basket.

    I am hoping for a 15-18 win season which is a big improvement over last season...

    Anyway, that's just my opinion and I think everyone is entitled to hear it.

    • Rock Solid

      You don't seem to much in your life other than your opinion. With all the time you spend guiding us to your eternal words of wisdom day after day you and typhoid Mary must be kin!

    • stevewvu

      Hey Lawrence Tomas,

      You're a self proclaimed Marshall fan who hopes WVU loses every game. You're a well known troll. No one cares about your opinion or your self prophecies.

  • Tim C

    The whole team didn't decide to play until 10:00 minutes to go. We seemed to frustrate Missouri with the zone but every time someone made a three we went away from it. When the Missouri guards would go into the paint they weren't challenged. I blame some of that on the new rule changes. We are young and played like it and with Harris on the bench for half of the second half our ability to score was severely hampered. I don't blame Huggins for benching him, he certainly wasn't playing like he normally does. Henderson I thought, played hard but he still wasn't hitting. Noreen and Adrian gave us nothing. Williams is young and still is learning but I liked his effort. Staten was hounded all night and seemed out of sync. Browne couldn't handle their big guards but he seemed to be trying. Turnovers absolutely killed us. It will be a long night against Gonzaga if we put out another effort like this.

    • Rock Solid

      Either MIZZOU was very good and BIG & QUICK or we are small and very average. We will not be scarey to any of the big boys. We sure wern't to Mizzou! I believe Mizzou will prove to be that good. Outstanding guards. We will see.

      • jwg66

        38-1 at home under their current coach. and they defend and run. i'd say that they were the cause of alot of our problems. i also think they are pretty good on their home floor big crowd or not. we may not go to the dance this year, but i still kinda like this team. they did not quit, they ran out of time.

  • The Wisetalker

    The other teams could make trouble for us if they win.

  • wes2003

    They've played 9 games. They are a young, but talented team...doing what young but talented teams do. They've drilled the teams that they should and have struggled a bit on the road against better competition.

    The good news is that this team plays hard. They just don't quit. They'll be better for these experiences. They'll have something for the Zags on Tuesday.

  • Dougie

    You can't rely on outside shooting only against good teams. This team will struggle until they get some big men. I don't think there are many more Ga Southern's or Presbyterians on the schedule...

  • Allan

    Don't think our team was ready for a zone defense, kinda got them out of their rhythm. It showed what happens to young teams sometimes. We need more of a presence in the paint and Devon hasn't the confidence yet, he's still in the learning mode. We seem to force plays that usually worked in the past or shots that use to fall in and this time they didn't. The team is in the maturing process and each loss like this will bring that maturation process closer to its conclusion. Put it behind you and get focused on Gonzaga!

  • steve

    Larry-I saw where there was a protest for a raise for fast food workers. I hope you get it so you can update your Indiana Jones glamour shot that you use for the Gazette postings.

    • David

      Funny stuff!

    • Mister Man

      LOL!!

    • stevewvu

      Poor Lawrence Tomas....He just takes a beating no matter how many websites he posts his jealous hate filled rants about WVU

  • Chef Camille

    Jordan Clarkson was a man among boys last night.

  • Mike

    I like this team, but it's concerning they can't beat a major conference team. They'll get more chances now. Bob has it about half-fixed. Couple players away..as in Holton and Macon.

  • Myron

    @ Joey anf Coal.......completely agree with your comments.

    Larry, what was the point of yours.......copying and pasting comments?!

    • William

      Quit picking on Larry. I have been trying to figure that cut and paste thing out for years but I always end up sniffing the glue it gets all marshalled up.

      • Myron

        That would also certainly explain your, as what psychiatrists call, delusional, self-reenforcing paranoia and chronic narcissm-schitzoprenia.

        • Hesa Duffuss

          Isn't it ridiculous how Larry posts something then Richard answers it then Big Larry answers that when all these posts are the same pathetic Huntington moron posting from his moms basement in between shifts at McDonalds.

          And no he does not deserve a raise for the steller work he does handing Big Mac's across a counter

  • WVcoal

    Learn from the mistakes, keep improving and continue to play as a team. There is alot of good basketball left in front of this team.

  • joey

    in all 3 loses all they needed was 1 defensive stop & make their foul shots. even tho they had bad games. I think this team will be pretty good come tournament time.

    • Barrett

      I remember I guess in 2000 when Beilen came to WV sitting down watching that team and saying , that team looks well coached. Every year since then I could say the same thing and every year they had a go to guy. Pittsnogle, Butler, Jones, every year that big scorer.

      The last two years the level of basketball is really hard to watch. These players are mid major talent at best. It's all about Franks and Joes and there is no talent on this team.

      Huggs is good coach, hands down love the guy but no major player wants to come to Motown. Devin Ebanks would have had a heck of a better college career if he went to Indiana or wherever he committed to first.

      That game was NEVER close last night. If you know the sport at all they were physically dominated and played scared. That's the difference in star players. Butler wanted the ball in Madison Square Garden all night long because that's what stars do.

      Your good or not. There is no "young" team excuses anymore. Ask North Carolina if their making excuses. Not once does Roy Williams use that at a press conference.

      Tournament time? Wow that's funny.

      • Lee

        Devin Ebanks career at WVU lead him to a Big East Championship, a Final Four run, leaving early and becoming an NBA player with the Lakers no less...
        So I would say he did ok by himself by coming to West Virginia

      • Stan

        That Devin Ebanks comment was one the dumbest things I've ever heard. There are not many college players who get to play in a Big East Championship let alone win one, or go to a Final Four game. Oh yeah, and getting drafted into the NBA, yeah that's horrible.

        • Barrett

          nice follow up. So Gordon Malone had a good career also?

          Ebanks never got any better, left early because he didn't like the coach and oh that's right he's not in the NBA now.

      • Mister Man

        Ask North Carolina if they're making excuses.

      • Mister Man

        You're good or not.

      • stevewvu

        Barrett those may have been some of the dumbest comments ever made. You my friend are starting to become a Big Larry like Marshall troll. Probably best that you never post about WVU athletics again.

  • Big Larry

    Eron Harris laid some heavy stakes on Thursday night’s game at Missouri. “We’re going to go out there like it’s the national championship,” he said.

    “National TV, big crowd, all the things you can ask for,” said WVU forward Remi Dibo. “We’ve just got to come out and be ready to play.”

    “You would hope that they would stay more in-character,” said Huggins. “Obviously, they didn’t tonight.”

    “We didn’t score seemingly for about an hour-and-a-half. So I would say we shot ourselves in the foot—or blew our head off, whatever you want to write,” Huggins said.

    • Rock Solid

      Talk is cheap. Walk the walk if you talk the talk. Kids are allowed to have big egoes since their minds havn't caught up to their bodies development. Big Larry, what is your excuse? Body and mind never developed?

    • stevewvu

      Hey Lawrence stop posting and go back out to McDonald's and start protesting for better wages.

      Could you answer one question for me? when was the last time your favorite school Marshall played in the NCAA tourney? Since you are a self proclaimes Marshall fan you should know that answer.