MORGANTOWN, W.Va. - In the time that's passed since his team dropped its season opener by more points than he'd ever lost a game, West Virginia Coach Bob Huggins has come to an understanding about his basketball team that he's applied to others in his career.
"It's hard sometimes to make 20-year-old guys understand you don't have to score 20 points per game to be a good player and get all wrapped up in scoring," he said. "The reality is you don't have to try and score a ton of points. You can score points a variety of ways. You can score points off defense. You can score points off rebounding the ball. You can score points off movement. And then you can make shots."
Far too often last season and then the first game of this year, Huggins has seen his players try to make shots to score points the traditional way, which is to say not in the ways Huggins approves. Without those ways, other parts of the game slip and that invites all sorts of trouble, which is amplified by WVU's sustained struggles making jump shots.
"Do the little things to make the team better, which is what we're missing," Huggins said. "We've got too many guys who think they're the guy who's got to make the shot. I don't think we've got anybody who doesn't think that, quite honestly. We've got to get the other guys to do some of those things."
Matt Humphrey would like to be that guy for the Mountaineers, who begin play today in the Old Spice Classic, in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. WVU plays Marist at noon on ESPN2.
Not to age Humphrey, because his experience transcends a number, but allow him to explain his qualifications.
"I played two years at one school, went to another school and stayed there two years and now I'm here," the senior shooting guard said. "I'm kind of washed up."
Humphrey is the 6-foot-6 transfer who played last season at Boston College and sat out the season before. Prior to that, he left his high school in Chicago and played two years at Oregon.
"I don't want to toot my own horn or anything like that," he said, "but regardless of how my situations worked out, I feel like I'm a pretty good basketball player. Last I checked, coaches like good basketball players."
Humphrey averaged 15 points per game and helped his high school go 30-4 and win a state championship as a senior. He then played for his country for the silver medal under-18 team in the 2008 FIBA Americas U18 world championship.
Humphrey went to the Pac-10 and was a starter for the first game of the 2008-09 season and ended up playing in all 31 games. Even though it was his first season, he was named the team's most improved player, averaging 4.4 points and 1.5 rebounds and shooting 35.4 percent from 3-point range.