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

  • OKANYDAY

    Is it just me, but does Coach Huggins look like he is wearing a black "tent" with WVU on it ?

  • justin

    this team is better than last year but isnt good enough for the ncaa tourney

  • Marveda

    You must build confidence up, not tear it down. When players have confidence, they play with more conviction and they don't worry about making mistakes. I can tell Eron doesn't have full confidence in himself, because when he makes a mistake, he immediately looks over to the bench. Is there a perfect basketball player somewhere, please tell me who they are. I would love to know how they achieved perfection. I told my son to "believe in yourself Eron, believe in you." I also told him not to pay attention to the negativity and never walk with your head down. I belive in Eron. He's a great young man, and I am very proud of him and his team for being fighters and not quitting.

  • mark

    Would have to respectfully disagree with Concerned. Harris is a quality young man who seems to epitomize "team." He most likely was just feeling he let his teammates down with an off night.

  • Marveda

    You know what, it takes a team to win games. Everyone has to contribute in some manner; rebounding, defense, assist, screen, scoring, etc. I don't approve of making one player feel responsible for a loss. Each player has areas of improvement, and they all made mistakes, but not everyone gets benched for their mistakes....hmmm. This is a young talented team, and the future looks bright. Please don't put one player in the "doghouse" because he was trying to figure out how he could help the team. I'm sure he didn't mean to force shots, and I know he loves his team. Tried too hard because he wants to be a leader. Leaders make mistakes.

  • big tom

    this game just showed wvu is not ready for prime time, once again,,,,,sad, another season gone.

  • TruthTeller

    You people just don't get it. There are no real games anymore. The Elite pay off teams like WVU to lose. The Elite are controlling the out come of all the games so only the rich and bigger schools get all the benefits of winning. Since WVU moved to the Big 12 there will be no more BCS bowls. No more NCAA tournament trips. The Elite are paying all of these teams millions to lose and not to be a threat to the richer and bigger schools. That is how WVU can shoot the lights out against the smaller schools but can't make even a free throw against the richer and bigger schools.
    Am I the only one that sees what is going on?
    You sheeple need to wake up!!! All these games are fixed anymore. So that the rich and bigger can collect all the benefits including the best recruits. GAME OVER

    • Big Larry

      Truth Teller,

      No you are the only one who sees what is going on. I think every true WVU fan realizes that WVU athletics under the direction of Oliver Bad Luck has fallen into the Abyss.

      But you have to realize there are several classifications of people who post on this forum. Let me break it down for you...

      1. The Luck, Huggins & Holgorsen loyalists. These people think these three guys were born perfect, can walk on water...and have never made a mistake.

      2. The paid Trolls. These are people on the payroll...enough said.

      3 Relatives...enough said.

      4. People who love WVU but have no idea what is going on. enough said...

      5. The Marshall Haters...anyone who tells the truth (like yourself) is called a "Marshall Troll" and all kinds of other derogatory names. Within this forum, it is not permitted to be both a WVU and Marshall fan. If you go to the high school playoffs tomorrow and cheer for either Martinsburg or Huntington...you are a Marshall Troll who works at McDonalds. You can only be a WVU fan or you are hated.

      6. And then finally you have the True Blue WVU fans (like myself) who are hated but not afraid to voice an opinion and speak the truth.

      These people see right through Ollie's Follies and realize the football and basketball programs are going "backwards" not forward.

      The people in #'s 1-5 outnumber those in #6 3 to 1 so it really is difficult to get any points across because with each comment, you have 5 who will disagree with you and call you a Marshall Troll.

      These people live in denial and think every year that WVU is going to win a National Championship which we all know will never happen in our lifetimes.

      It is what it is...

    • Troll is back

      You got one thing right, no more BCS bowls, but that goes for everyone genius since this is the last year of the BCS!

      • Truthteller

        Hey the good thing is that even when there were BCS bowls Marshall never played in any of them. LOL!!!
        NOT EVER!!!!!
        NOT EVER!!!!!
        NOT EVER!!!!!
        NOT EVER!!!!!
        NOT EVER!!!!!
        NOT EVER!!!!!
        NOT EVER!!!!!
        NOT EVER!!!!!

  • Concerned

    He needs to grow up. It's not about him, it's about the team. Saw him pouting in the game against Loyola even after we scored on one of his misses. Like him, but stop talking and pouting already. Play hard, quit being selfish.

    • Jeremy

      Mind reader? How did you know he was "pouting"? Looks on peoples faces don't always mean the things you think they mean. Just be a fan and stop trying to read the minds of 19-20 yr old kids!

  • 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."

    • stevewvu

      Typical post from a typical Marshall troll

    • Mister Man

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

    • 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

  • 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.

    • 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.

    • 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!

  • 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...