MORGANTOWN, W. Va. — Bob Huggins is having trouble again with a player with an injured knee.
This time, it’s a good sign for the West Virginia men’s basketball team, as point guard Jordan McCabe is working his way back from a torn MCL.
“Jordan played with a torn MCL last year and then he had surgery,” Huggins said. “We’ve been fighting with him about not doing so much. Most guys you are fighting with to do something. He understands. He’s been pretty good.”
McCabe played in 35 games as a freshman last season and averaged 5.8 points and 2.5 assists per game.
After the Mountaineers were knocked out in the second round of the CBI, McCabe announced he had played with a torn meniscus, which required surgery in April.
“It’s going to swell up for a period of time,” Huggins said. “It’s not like it blows up, but’s he’s got a little swelling. That’s going to happen until the knee gets used to it.”
It was a different story last year, when forward Sagaba Konate was coming off knee surgery.
The forward was not at 100 percent heading into the season and appeared in just eight games before shutting it down for the season in December.
Konate then declared for the NBA Draft, but was not selected. He signed as a free agent with Toronto, but is not playing with the team in the NBA Summer League, because of knee soreness.
Huggins said he didn’t expect McCabe to miss any time, including the team’s summer trip to Spain, where the Mountaineers will play three exhibition games from Aug. 3-13.
The team has 10 practices to prepare for the trip. The first one came Wednesday.
“He’s full-go now, really,” Huggins said. “We held him out of a little bit of stuff, because we didn’t want him to go a solid three hours. But, who knows, he may have been in here four hours early working on stuff. He’s in here a lot.”
The Mountaineers will not have a full roster when it plays in the Spain exhibition games.
Junior-college transfers Ethan Richardson and Taz Sherman will not travel with the team, because they are still working to complete academic requirements at their schools.
“They’re finishing up things,” Huggins said.
Sherman, a 6-foot-4 guard, averaged 25.9 points, 4.8 assists and 4.8 rebounds for Collin County (Texas) Community College last season. He first committed to WVU in April and signed his letter-of-intent in May.
Richardson, a 6-foot-10 center, averaged 16.3 points and 7.4 rebounds in 32 games for Fresno (Calif.) City College. He signed a grant-in-aid in June.
Of the two, Sherman would seem to be most likely in line for early playing time at WVU.
The Mountaineers already have experienced big men in sophomore Derek Culver and senior Logan Routt, as well as incoming five-star recruit Oscar Tshiebwe.
Both players are still expected to enroll in time for the start of the fall semester.
“It’s going to be a big-time cram session for them,” Huggins said. “Taz is so athletic. It’s like watching Oscar out there now, he doesn’t know what he’s doing, but with his athleticism, he still makes plays. I think without a question Taz will be able to do that.”
Longer threes don’t add much to the game
Beginning this season, the NCAA 3-point line will match the international distance of 22-feet, 1 3/4 inches, which is a change from 20-feet, nine inches.
“I don’t think it makes that much difference,” Huggins said.
WVU is scheduled to play against St. John’s at Madison Square Garden this season, which has the NBA 3-point line on the floor of just under 24 feet.
“Go in early and watch guys warm up. Every single one of them will be shooting behind the NBA line,” Huggins continued. “The furthest line is the one they gravitate to and shoot behind, so I don’t think it’s that big of a deal. It’s not that far.”
By expanding the line, the hope is adding more space to the floor for driving lanes, but Huggins isn’t a believer.
“You think a foot opens up the floor that much? I don’t think so,” Huggins said. “You can’t really open it up much any further in the corner. You see more guys standing out of bounds trying to shoot threes in the corner.”