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Sunday, February 15, 2015

Staten, Mountaineers await Jayhawks

Kansas forward Perry Ellis defends as West Virginia guard Juwan Staten puts up a shot during the first half on Saturday, Feb. 8, 2014 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas forward Perry Ellis defends as West Virginia guard Juwan Staten puts up a shot during the first half on Saturday, Feb. 8, 2014 at Allen Fieldhouse.

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— West Virginia senior point guard Juwan Staten had a rather subdued reaction last October when told he’d been voted 2014-2015 Big 12 Preseason Player of the Year.

“Thank God. I’m blessed. That was it,” Staten, a 6-foot-1, 190-pounder from Dayton, Ohio told the Journal-World. “I like to stay on an even keel. You are never as good as they say you are and never quite as bad as they think. I’m going to work hard, regardless of what is said,” Staten added.

A strong candidate for first-team all-Big 12 for the second straight season, Staten enters tonight’s Kansas-West Virginia game (8 p.m., Central time, WVU Coliseum) somewhat of a longshot to claim the postseason Player of the Year award.

He’s fifth in the league in scoring (team-leading 14.3 ppg off 41.5 percent shooting) and second in assists (4.6). In league-only games, he ranks 12th in scoring (12.2 ppg) while remaining second in assists (5.0).

“It (preseason honor) has definitely brought a bigger target. It’s made me work a lot harder,” Staten told WVUsports.com. “I realize teams are coming at me harder. It’s made me prepare a lot more than I had to in the past.”

Staten’s role has changed a bit in his senior season for the Mountaineers (19-6, 7-5).

“He’s not playing the minutes he did a year ago (30.9 compared to 37.3) ,” coach Bob Huggins told WVUsports.com. “He doesn’t have the ball in his hands as much as he had it a year ago. He has it in his hands when we need a basket obviously. He’s gone out of his way to share the ball, gone out of his way to get other people involved. He is playing much harder on the defensive end, even though he was first-team all-Big 12 defensive team a year ago. He’s playing harder. He’s more mature.”

Staten — he averaged 18.1 ppg as a junior — hit 14 of 20 free throws and scored 24 points with nine assists in West Virginia’s 92-86 win over KU last season in Morgantown and scored 22 points with four assists in WVU’s 83-69 loss to KU in Lawrence. Andrew Wiggins exploded for 41 points in the game in Morgantown.

“We came to play, had a great game plan, had a great crowd behind us,” Staten said of the home win versus KU.

He has a healthy dose of respect for the Jayhawk players, most notably, “Perry Ellis. He just gets it done. He’s not playing for the crowd or playing for himself. He just goes out every day and gets it done,” Staten said.

KU coach Bill Self, whose team enters 21-4 overall and 10-2 in the league, has similar respect for Staten.

“He killed us last year,” Self said. “We couldn’t keep him in front of us. He’s fast, gets to the paint whenever he wants to. He’s tough. He’s a terrific guard. He was fabulous against us in Morgantown and played well against us at our place, too. You talk point guards, he’s definitely underrated (nationally). He didn’t get the national respect he deserved last year.”

Staten toyed with the idea of entering the NBA Draft after his stellar junior campaign.

“My goal is to be the first point guard taken in the draft. I made that a goal after the season last year because I didn’t know if I wanted to leave or return,” Staten told the J-W. “After talking to my family and coach ... we looked at the players who were leaving and the players who were returning and figured if I’m going to be here another year, I need to make a great goal.”

The former University of Dayton player, who has played three seasons at West Virginia, says he’s learned a lot from demanding coach Huggins.

“He’s loud on the court. Off the court he’s completely different. He helped me mature, helped me approach the game differently, with a different attitude,” Staten said. “He’s helped me grow up and become a man.

“It takes a special guy to play for him,” Staten added, reminded that several Mountaineers have transferred since he’s been at WVU. “He critiques you. He’s a perfectionist. He’s always striving toward being as perfect as possible. With that, sometimes he gets frustrated at you. Sometimes he yells at you. If you stick with it, he’ll bring the best out of you.”

Asked why some have not been able to handle the criticism and departed Morgantown, Staten said: “I can’t speak for them. They left and I’m here. I guess it’s not for everyone. That doesn’t mean it’s not special.”

Staten is hoping all his hard work will pay off with his first appearance in the NCAA Tournament. West Virginia appears a lock to make the NCAAs.

“That’s my biggest goal. Since I’ve been in college I haven’t been able to play in the tournament. At Dayton we didn’t make it,” Staten said. “The year I came here, when I had to sit out, we made it. The years I played we didn’t. That’s weighed on me a little bit. I’m definitely looking forward to making it to the tournament this year. That’s been a reason we play as hard as we play. It’s something we’re trying to make happen.”

A win tonight would certainly help the Mountaineers’ cause.

“I think they’ve had a great year. Huggs has them playing very hard,” said Self. “They’ll press missed free throw, trap first pass. It’ll be an unconventional game like Missouri played when Mike (Anderson) was there. They do even more pressing than that.

“We have to meet every pass,” Self added, “because what West Virginia does better than everybody in America is turn you over and turn points into turnovers. We’ll have to do as good of a job as we’ve done all year attacking pressure, taking care of the ball and not having live ball turnovers.”

West Virginia has committed 324 turnovers this season while forcing 533. In Big 12 play, the Mountaineers have committed 167 and forced 234.

“We’ve got two really good point guards. We know we have to be aggressive and attack,” said KU sophomore Wayne Selden Jr. “Just be aggressive and try to attack it.”

“We have to get after the ball from the jump, from the get-go,” said freshman forward Cliff Alexander. “We’ve been working on that, hit the closest man to the nearest outlet to get the ball up the court, push the ball down the floor, don’t let them slow us down.”

This, that: West Virginia has lost three of four games following Saturday’s 79-59 setback to Iowa State in Ames. Staten scored 16 points off 6-of-11 shooting and dished seven assists versus two turnovers in 34 minutes. No other Mountaineer player was in double figures. ISU had 16 turnovers vs. the press; West Virginia a whopping 19 turnovers. ... KU leads the all-time series, 3-1. KU is 1-1 at WVU Coliseum, losing last year, 92-86, and winning in 2013, 61-56. ... Bill Self is 3-1 versus West Virginia; Bob Huggins 1-7 vs. KU, 1-3 as West Virginia coach. ... West Virginia has two double-digit scorers, Staten and Devin Williams (11.1 ppg).

Stripes: Fans attending today’s game are encouraged to take part in a “Stripe the Coliseum” event. Fans will wear gold or blue depending on which section their seats are located. A detailed map of the color layout can be seen at www.wvusports.com/stripethecoliseum.

Possible Starters

KANSAS (21-4, 10-2)

F — Perry Ellis (6-8, Jr.)

F — Cliff Alexander (6-8, Fr.)

G — Frank Mason III (5-11, Soph.)

G — Wayne Selden Jr. (6-5, Soph.)

G — Kelly Oubre Jr. (6-7, Fr.)

WEST VIRGINIA (19-7, 7-5)

F — Jonathan Holton (6-7, Jr.)

F — Devin Williams (6-9, Soph.)

G — Juwan Staten (6-1, Sr.)

G — Daxter Miles (6-3, Fr.)

G — Gary Browne (6-1, Sr.)

Comments

Roman Castillo 4 years, 6 months ago

This is one player who hurt his draft stock by staying.

Bryce Landon 4 years, 6 months ago

But he's gonna get his degree. That's commendable.

Reggie Flenory 4 years, 6 months ago

West Virginia is so beatable all we have to do let's play our game and we will be fine

Robert Brock 4 years, 6 months ago

This game will reveal whether our point guard trainee, Frank Mason, is making satisfactory progress in his transition to that critical position.

Joe Joseph 4 years, 6 months ago

...because the fact that he's 3rd in the conference in assists and 2nd in assist-to-turnover ratio isn't satisfactory enough. (conference-play only stats)

Robert Brock 4 years, 6 months ago

Statistical prattle is not an effective method of judging leadership. Let's see what happens when Frank faces traps and full-court pressure and whether he can effectively control Staten. And in a hostile environment...

Rodney Crain 4 years, 6 months ago

trainee lol??? So what is it that bothers you Robert his great play this year, his leadership, all those double digit scoring games, his coach singling him out as the MVP of the team?

Statistics aside he has been the most consistent player on our team this year. Someone posted this, we can win without Perry, Selden, KO anyone else but we have to have a solid game from Frank.

Mercy.

What concerns me is that Frank seems a little off his last couple of games. We will need both his and Grahams play to break the press, plus solid heads up play from our freshman starters.

We had 4 very tough road games before conference play started, ISU, TX, WV and OU. We are 1-1 so far. This game is not a must win but it would be nice to play well and have a chance to win the game at the end.

John Fitzgerald 4 years, 6 months ago

I thought Mason was having a great year at pg so far this year. Maybe I've been watching another team though.

JD Roth 4 years, 6 months ago

Point guard trainee is a pretty ignorant definition for Mr. Mason. Ridiculous as a matter of fact. Each season there is intense pressure on players wearing the crimson and blue to continue the regular season championship streak. They have handled it better than I anticipated at times. Eleven straight is theirs for the taking since Iowa State has struggled in road games and has four of their remaining six conference games on the road. Rock Chalk!!!!! "

Benz Junque 4 years, 6 months ago

There aren't many players in the nation that have improved more from last year to this year so I would think that Mason is making satisfactory progress. He didn't have a very good game against Baylor but has been about as rock steady as imaginable this year all in all.

There is no one person tonight that is important; it will take a total team effort to beat the WVU pressure. Everyone will need to be alert and in the right spots so that guys don't get trapped with no outlet. Mason, Graham, Selden, Oubre and Ellis will all need to be mindful of where they are and what is going on with the person who has the ball.

I watched Baylor completely dominate West Virginia two Saturdays ago. They did exactly what Kansas needs to do on offense. And they'll need just as much attention to getting back in transition as they had in the rematch against ISU to keep WVU in half court offense where they STINK. Tough to find a team that shoots worse than WVU. It will be a tough game but it's very winnable for KU if they pay attention and execute the game plan.

Benz Junque 4 years, 6 months ago

Having Tharpe gone as a defender will help us a lot as we match up against Staten again. He should have been charged for a ticket with as much standing around watching as he did last year. Mason and Graham will need to be glued to Staten on defense and will need to be alert and responsible with the ball on offense to keep out of turnover trouble. If KU can break their press and be smart with their passes and force WVU into half court offense like they did against ISu in AFH then they should handle WVU no problem.

The Mountaineers are one of the worst shooting teams in the league. Force them to earn it and they will be beaten.

Rodney Crain 4 years, 6 months ago

One of the best additions by subtraction I have seen in a long while.

We are going to have two very good guards for a few years in a row now. If we can get 2 more in the 2016 class we could be a hard team to beat next year. Would Love some length.

Doug Merrill 4 years, 6 months ago

I wonder if this game will be cancelled. Weather is looking bad (ice).

Mick Allen 4 years, 6 months ago

Our "point guard trainee" has already made much more than "satisfactory progress" as a "trainee". Robert you can't dismiss the stats that Joe recited. You have questioned Mason's ability to be a point guard since his freshman year. Granted, WVU's press will be a good test for all our ball handlers, e.g. Mason, Graham, Oubre, Selden and Greene. Keep the ball out of the corners, throw it vertically, not horizontally when possible and come to the ball, don't wait for it, and lastly be strong with the ball. Play through hacks, grabs and holds that won't be called and there will be several no calls. Hit your free throws as they will foul often. Mason's handles are as good as anyone's. He has had his dribble picked only twice this year.A turn over is more likely to occur when he is doubled and his lack of height does not allow him to jump up and throw over the trap.As said here earlier, Mason is a much, much better on ball defender than Nadir, as is Graham and whoever is guarding Staten must stop his dribble and make him give it up. An open court game is where Frank should excel, but if he doesn't, he'll start at point the rest of the season because he is that good. One game will not determine whether he had a good sophomore year or not. Robert I recall your earlier posts questioning whether he could ever be a "distributor" instead of just looking to score, which was his first thought in high school and continued until he came to KU. If he hasn't established that ability by now to you, you need to watch the game more closely. His last two games he has 16 assist and 4 turnovers. I would take an 8 assist 2 turnover game tonight in a heart beat.

Rodney Crain 4 years, 6 months ago

Well said!

You have been in his corner since day 1, but he has a lot of others on here singing the same song. The guy brings it every game, is our MVP and has been a dramatic 180 on our point guard play in one year.

Trainee I can accept for Graham, but making that statement about Mason makes me wonder what games Robert is watching.

Tony Bandle 4 years, 6 months ago

I was actually rooting for WV in Ames this weekend because you know that WV will lose at least one game to the Hawks and for ISU to lose another game, the league might as well ship the 2014/15 Big 12 Trophy to Lawrence right away.

We won't lose any of the remaining home games in Lawrence. Texas[ I will be at the game and I haven't seen them lose in Lawrence in 17 years], TCU and WV are all awful road teams, then we'll beat the Kitties in the Octagon of Dumb. Thus even if we lose at WV and OU, the best anyone can do is ISU tie us for the Conference Title so the Streak will continue!!

John Fitzgerald 4 years, 6 months ago

I've actually had the same thoughts. I don't see us losing at home at all, KSU is banged up so they'll have to play great just to hang with us even on their court, and WVU and OU are our only chances at losing. I'm more worried about OU than WVU because of their potent offense. WVU has a great press but as long as we prepared for it and our players play smart, then I think we can win. Two key players tonight are Mason and Ellis. If Mason continues what he's been doing all year and if Ellis brings the fire like he has the past few games then I think it should be a good win.

Gerry Butler 4 years, 6 months ago

well was going to post Rodney, but you took my thunder, all I can say is WELL SAID. mercy trainee? really? seriously? frank has been rock solid. distributing the ball, stepping up hitting a shot at crucial times, handling the ball, agreed he hasn't faced the kind of pressure he will face tonight, but even this is not all going to fall on Frank. the OTHER players have to be ready to step up, come meet the ball, don't turn and run away from frank and dessert him and leave him hanging in a trap. come back meet the ball, that's why Devonte, Kelly, Brennan, and Wayne have to help out, make sure we have the right guys handling the ball, we sure the hell don't need Perry or Cliff trying to make the play so right on Rodney, and yes Frank has had a couple of bad games, not disasterous but not as well one then that worries me is, he is our point guard, and is going to handle the ball a lot especially late, and as a point guard you have to be able to step up and hit your free throws and lately frank ha been uh oh not so good but I know he will get better, he was shooting really well but just lately in a funk with them. hoping for a big win tonight GO HAWKS

Jonathan Allison 4 years, 6 months ago

Tony, I was asking myself earlier today whether it would be better for the conference were (1) ISU to win out and potentially tie Kansas for the conference title and win the conference tourney even if that means that Big 12 bubble teams like UT and KSU don't make the tourney or whether it would be better for (2) ISU to falter but allow Big 12 bubble teams like KSU and UT to get into the NCAA touney.

Personally I think that Kansas runs away with number 11 (I don't see us dropping a 2 game lead with 6 to play) and then meets ISU again in KC in a 50/50 game. KSU is going to be on the outside looking in because of a bad noncon stretch, but the Big 12 will have 7 teams represented in the NCAAs.

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