The most entertaining and most telling part from the final sequence of West Virginia’s win at Baylor Tuesday night was how Juwan Staten handled the possession that ended with his game-winning layup.
Terry Henderson would flash open on the perimeter to Staten’s left with only a few seconds left. Eron Harris would do the same to Staten’s right a couple of seconds after that. Staten never so much as flinched and was intent on taking the final shot because he was so mad about missing two free throws one possession earlier — to say nothing of missing the front end of a one-and-one and contributing to a shot clock violation not long before that.
“I felt like I let the team down missing a couple free throws and felt like I needed to do something,” said Staten, who made a game-winner at home against Virginia Tech last season and missed a game-winner at home against Oklahoma State this season. “I pretty much knew I was the one who was going to take the shot. That was something I’d made up in my mind. I felt like I’d given the game away and it was up to me. I wouldn’t sleep at night if I didn’t do something to win that game.”
He played it perfectly, as did the Mountaineers.
WVU pulled Henderson and Harris out of the paint and onto the perimeter separately, hoping one would get open and a second and bigger Baylor defender would have to jump out to help his teammate defend a potential game-winner from one of WVU’s two perimeter threats.
Henderson was first and Baylor didn’t take the bait. Harris was second, and because of who he is and how little time was left, he drew a crowd. With one less defender inside, Staten hit it and raced from the top of the key down the right side and spun the arms counterclockwise to skip the ball off the glass and in the basket.
He left 3.1 seconds on the clock. Had he left 3.5 seconds, the Mountaineers probably lose because Baylor’s Kenny Cherry threw in a 3-pointer, though just after the buzzer. The Mountaineers won by two points. Staten finished with 15 points, nine assists and four rebounds. He played all 40 minutes, again, and had just one turnover. He also didn’t foul anyone for a second straight game. It’s the sort of overall performance that ought to have people talking and thinking.
I was talking to a scout recently who’d seen WVU play a few times in person. He said he thought Staten would be a really good D-League point guard.
I wonder how much better WVU would be if Staten were the first-chair player. I think this team has an attitude that it’s Harris, and certainly he brings a swagger, a capability, a threat. But it can disappear. And if it isn’t there, then you have to go to Henderson, who is pretty unreliable. Skilled, sure, but not reliable.
Staten is always there and this team is at its best when he’s pushing the peddle to the floor. It changes things and makes an aggressive team out of one that relies a lot on jumpers. I just wonder how much different things would be if he was the one taking 14 shots a game instead of Harris.
Staten’s 14th shot, no lie, was his game-winner.
And the other bit of news to come out Tuesday was the “settlement agreement” between WVU and Mike Parsons. His last day was Monday. His office was empty Tuesday. This has been happening for a while. Like, as far back as back June. And truth be told, probably even before that.
Though Parsons, who it seems changed his representation midstream as he tried to look out for his best interests, kept showing up to work and football and basketball games, those near him came to see he had less and less to do with what had been his daily duties. “I can’t say for sure he was doing anything,” one person told me yesterday.
Obviously, that’s because a lot of what he once did in charge of the Mountaineer Sports Network was being handled by IMG College.
“He eventually realized that function didn’t exist for him anymore,” a source close to Parsons said.
One source told the Daily Mail that WVU is not likely to fill the position of deputy athletic director and could instead add to the athletic department’s administration.
He’ll be paid more than what was due to him through the end of the contract, and, maybe it’s just me, but that’s the right thing to do for a guy who’d been around and who’d been so valuable and so good for a long time.
Sure, Parsons had long been a target for criticism — remember, some of the most revealing parts of the Rich Rodriguez lawsuit were depositions that showed how many WVU boosters and bigwigs wanted for him to be fired — but a guy like him who has to say “no” is going to be unpopular. I also always thought he was the guy out front for a lot of the bad new Eddie Pastilong had to deliver, too.
I know there’s a lot of chatter about how the Tier 3 thing was the death blow, and certainly there’s something to that because of how he was cut out of the voting process, but in the end I have to think it was as much about WVU no longer having a need for him as it was about Parsons wanting to do stuff again.
Finally, I’m traveling back home today. Scoop & Score is live tomorrow. I’ve got bad news for the bottom of the Big 12 come football season. I don’t quite understand the new rules in college basketball. The The Mighty MJD joins me to talk about, among many things, the Super Bowl. And you won’t believe what happened to me on this road trip. I dare you.