Ben Queen/MetroNews photo

Devin Williams is working to become a low-post threat in hopes of augmenting WVU’s array of jumpshooters.

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — For its perimeter-oriented attack to find more open looks, West Virginia needs the threat of a low-post scorer. And presumably that was to be the function of freshman Devin Williams, only Williams hasn’t been functioning of late.

During the most recent five-game stretch, the 6-foot-8 forward has made only 12-of-40 shots from the floor (30 percent) and averaged just 6.2 points in 22 minutes. In last Saturday’s 74-64 win over Marshall, Williams was held without a field goal for the first time in his brief college career and played a season-low 16 minutes.

He committed three turnovers and was flummoxed by Marshall’s sagging double-teams, a frustrating lesson in his adjustment to life as a low-post player. Despite being a big-bodied prospect, Williams was primarily a face-up player at Withrow High in Cincinnati and the same held true last season at Montverde (Fla.) Academy, where 7-foot Kentucky signee Dakari Johnson was the main threat in the paint.

“I don’t think Devin’s ever been a back-to-the-basket guy,” West Virginia coach Bob Huggins said Friday. “He was more of a guy who stepped out and shot 12- to 15-footers.”

Yet with WVU thin on the frontline, the still-learning Williams remains the only real option down low. Most of Kevin Noreen’s offense comes from garbage buckets, Brandon Watkins is a screen-and-roll guy, and Elijah Macon and Jonathan Holton remain in academic purgatory.

“We still have to be able to score close,” Huggins said. “I think Iowa State is a great example of people who shoot 3s and shoot 3s very well. But the thing people miss s that Georges Niang is really good in the post, and he gets a lot of one-on-one coverage down there because they spread you out so much. Without him in the post, that perimeter stuff’s not nearly as good.”

On the heels of Williams’ struggles against Marshall, teammates have encouraged him to be more decisive with the ball before the help defense arrives.

“We just tell him once he catches it, go for it,” said guard Terry Henderson. “And when he sees the double-team coming, pass it out and we’ll get it back to him. He’s only a freshman—he’ll get it.”

Added junior point guard Juwan Staten: “Devin’s not the kind of guy you see pout much or get down on himself, but us being great teammates, we’re going to keep encouraging him.

“I think the speed of the game may be a little fast him, because he makes great moves and has a strong body. Once he realizes how fast the double-team is coming and the type of pressure they’re putting on him, I think he’ll be fine.”

Freshman Nate Adrian—with 36 of his 46 attempts coming from 3-point range so far—also recognizes the need to develop a low-post game, though that’s a task reserved for the offseason.

“That’s something I need to work on a lot,” he said. “Right now, I’m just shooting too much. I need to start working on my post game and taking the ball to the hole. It’s going to take a long time. It’s just a lot of repetition and teaching, but I’ll get it done.”

Predicting Adrian could sprout another inch up to 6-10, Huggins likes the idea of his small forward becoming multi-dimensional.

“At 6-10, that’s a pretty good-sized three-man,” Huggins said. “But it doesn’t do any good if you can’t take a smaller guy and put him on your back.”

Asked whether the completion of fall semester brought a decision on Holton’s eligibility, Huggins remained tight-lipped.

“Is he eligible now? No,” the coach said, declining to update the odds of Holton becoming eligible in the near future. “I don’t know how to answer that. Well, I do, but not for public consumption. It’s still in process. How’s that?”

After WVU castoff Aaric Murray dropped 48 points in Texas Southern’s upset at Temple this week, Huggins said he sent Murray a congratulatory text and the well-traveled player reportedly texted back.

Asked why Murray’s stint at West Virginia—which included a suspension and moments of questionable effort—didn’t work out, Huggins wasn’t about to re-open old wounds.

“I know what the right answer is, but I don’t know if I want to say what it is,” he said. “There’s no right or wrong answer, but I am happy for Aaric that he’s having some success.”

The 48-point game was the Division I-high this season and lifted Murray’s scoring average to 24.5.

Howard Smith-USA TODAY Sports

Texas Southern center Aaric Murray (24) celebrates two of his 48 points during a 90-89 upset of Temple on Wedesday night.
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  • madhatter

    trying to be optimistic about our season, i see us finishing with 14 victories,, no ncaa , no nit,,, and huggins still makiing ten grand a day,,,, simply no justice in this world
    we have people in wv out of work, kids with no presents under the tree, families with little or no food on their tables, and Huggins making that kind of money and not producing...
    Just no justice or morality in this world.

  • William

    Average Home Coliseum Attendance under
    "Sweatsuit Huggins" -

    2010 -12,377
    2011 -11,469
    2012 - 9,930
    2013 - 8,752
    2014 - 5,989

    I guess all the players that LEFT the team aren't the only ones leaving!

    • Barry

      There is no doubt that Bob Huggins has run this program (that Beilein built up) into the ground. Those who would disagree are in denial. The facts are the facts. Try to explain it away. Make excuses if you want. Talk about how Huggins has over 700 wins and that he is a "Hall of Fame Coach". But, it still doesn't change the fact that he has failed as a recruiter and has run off most of the players that he recruited.
      Either he has failed as a coach, or he has failed as a recruiter. Those are the two options. Pick the one you are most comfortable with.

  • Mike

    It takes a certain type of player to play for Huggs, and he hasn't been recruiting enough of them...whiffing on more than a few. The program has suffered because of it. Hope it's now back on track to top-25 success.

    • William

      Yep, Guys have a lot of BAGGAGE!

  • TLC

    You have two past players in that picture of Murray. That is Dalton Pepper from Temple behind him. Pepper had 14 points, 8 rebounds, and 8 assists.

  • Ole Sasquatch

    Can't see a good reason why Brandon Watkins would'nt be considered for center on offense. An offensive center when he receives the ball must know immediately what he is going to do and make a decidedly super quick controlled move.
    Any Center has no reason not to have learned a super quick pump fake and know how to turn the palm of his hand over and do various forms of finger rolls - which are extremely hard to block.
    Coach Huggins teach these basics to your centers and you will have an offensive center.

  • Dave

    To answer someones question below, does Aaric Murray play defense now? The answer is still "no".I had to watch the replay on ESPN3 when I read that Murray scored 48 points. He played a heck of a game offensively. But very weak defensively. I wish he could have fit in at WV but he chose his own path. I wish him the best of luck in his career.

  • pghmountaineer

    Barry, You make great points. These things are undeniable.

  • tw eagle

    murray is still a lazy bum . . . temple is from his stomping grounds , and probably on tv in philly area . . . ergo the full effort . . .

    if Huggins practices Williams on handling the D down low , he'll learn when and how to hit the hoop or feed the ball back outside for the free three ( opening caused by D sagging inside ) . . . Adrian could be another pittsnogle type of player if he learns to "get his hands dirty" inside . . . Pittsnogle got a lot of room outside cause he could & would make a defender look silly by driving by him and dunking . . .

  • TCeer

    I wonder if Murray is playing guess would be......NO.

  • Barry

    Isn't it amazing how both of these players are having success with other teams/coaches. I thought Pepper had great potential when he was at WVU, but Huggins screamed at him and sat him on the bench every time he would make one little mistake. Truck Bryant would screw up non-stop though and not a word was said. Now Peeper is averaging 16.2 PPG and Murray is averaging 24.5. I think they made the right choice in leaving this coach.
    Everyone is wondering why recruiting has been so bad at WVU under Huggins. It is because the current players want to leave and are unhappy and the new recruits can see it. It doesn't take a genius to see the mass exodus we have had at WVU and know that there are problems.

    • William


      • William

        Huggins should have been FIRED for what he said to the referee last year -

        • Big Larry


          "Love Your Work"

    • DWM

      Pepper left becuase he wanted to be closer to home (I think his mom had some health issues) and stated so and Hugggins hated to lose him but let him go to help the kid. Murray left because he and Huggins came to an agreement that it would be best for him to do so. Bottomline, Murray would be just as likely to score 48 one night with no defense and then follow it up with 6 the next night with no defense. Inconsistent effort and no commitment to being a teammate and playing defense is why Murray is not a Mountaineer.

      If you don't like Huggins and want to take any opportunity to take a shot at our Hall of Fame coach, that's your perogative. I'd suggest when you take your shots, you use better examples. We are better off with Williams, Watkins, and Adrian having better examples like Harris, Henderson, Staten, and Noreen than the wildly inconsistent and defensively uncommitted Murray.

      • Barry

        Look at all the players that have left since our "Hall of Fame" coach has been here. Dan Jennings, Dalton Pepper, Forsythe, Aaron Brown, Volodymyr Gerun, Jabarie Hinds, Keaton Miles, and Aaric Murray. I am sure there are more that I missed. And now we are desperate to get a felon cleared to play. But, I guess that all these guys had issues. It couldn't possibly be our "Hall of Fame Coach" that is the problem.

  • wvajoker

    Holton is not eligible due the the ridiculous narrow mindedness of the NCAA stance? My, what a surprise.

  • Barry

    Is that Dalton Pepper in the picture with Murray. That makes two good players that left WVU.

    • WVPhilly

      Yes it is Dalton Pepper.
      What a unique photo capturing tumultuous times with WV basketball. Hopefully players will settle in more now.

  • Master of One

    If Williams can't get it done against the "Sisters of the Poor", how is he going to fare when he really faces some competition in the Big 12?

    Why do these players like Murray seem to succeed when they leave WVU and go elsewhere?

  • Mister Man

    Congrats to you Aaric. I wish you all the luck in the world.

  • polarbear

    Allen when did anyone in WV care about a player from Texas Southern. You also state "Jonathan Holton remain in academic purgatory" Im guessing you don’t even know why he is not playing. Holton is in good academic standing at WVU and with the NCAA. The reason he is not playing is due to his JC doesn’t have mid-year graduations. So he technically has not graduated, and the NCAA rule prohibits that. He indeed has enough credits to graduate from the JC.

    • Barry

      I care about a player from Texas Southern because a few months ago he was a Mountaineer. A Mountaineer who struggled with Huggins, but is now having alot of success.
      The only reason to not report this would be to not make Huggins look bad, which is what you would prefer, I guess.

      • Troll

        Who cares he's gone, doesn't matter who's fault only matters he couldn't make it as a Mountianeer. In Huggins defense WVU not the first school this kid ran from when he didn't get his way. So he goes to a weaker school that plays weaker teams and he scores more now and you think Huggins messed up for running him off? Get real WVU much better off without him.

        • Allan Taylor

          Really not trying to make Huggins look good or bad—it was just noteworthy that Murray had such a huge scoring night this week, and that he landed at a SWAC program for one last shot at collegiate redemption. Personally, I don't think Huggins had any option other than to let go of Murray during the offseason, considering the travails the player experienced/created at WVU.