WVU v. Iowa State: Who are the magicians?

Sometimes you’ve got your head down writing or typing when you’re listening to something or someone and you get the words, but not the context.

Knowing what we know now — which is that Terry Henderson has quite a bug and that it’s going to keep him not only out of a second straight game, but away from the team for a second straight game … and maybe longer — what happened following the first game against Iowa State is finally ringing in my ears.

“He could have said, ‘I was sick.’ He didn’t. He just said, ‘This one’s on me. I’ve got to be able to play through it.’ ” 

It.

Hmm.

Was Henderson sick for the Kansas game? Because, man, Henderson looked bad that game. I said he looked beat. Whatever the case, whatever the adjective, he was not himself and, near as I can tell, no ink has been given to the possibility, or maybe now the fact, that he was sick when he was 0-for-3 against the Jayhawks.

And has what ailed him that day in Lawrence followed him ever since? Did a diagnosis arrive just a few days ago?

I think those are a pretty interesting questions, though certainly secondary to “When will Henderson return to the lineup?” We know he’s been ill for a while, but we don’t now for how much longer WVU expects to be without it’s third-leading scorer during the final push in a conference that really requires scorers.

What I have to say about him and his role tonight is the same as it was Saturday. WVU needs Henderson. It can’t shorten the bench. It can’t expect to match up with Iowa State and its pace for 40 minutes and rely on just Juwan Staten and Eron Harris doing all the scoring in the backcourt or with three-guard lineups with Gary Browne, which then removes a link to other plans that might involve, or necessitate, getting Staten and/or Harris on the bench.

Henderson was hot early in the home win against Iowa State — I thought he faded, but, whatever, it was a blowout that didn’t need 30-plus points from him — and what he did made life easier on Staten and Harris and Remi Dibo, who had a career night that I don’t think you can expect without some assistance from others to clear the way first.

Given what Texas and Baylor have done in succession, it stands to reason the Cyclones are going to (try to) take away Harris and Staten and roll the dice on Dibo and Nathan Adrian. I don’t think Iowa State has the size or the length the Longhorns and Bears posses, so I’m not sure it comes so easily, but whether Staten and Harris succeed or not is somewhat irrelevant. In either case, they’ll have to get Adrian and Dibo involved.

If those two start writing checks, then Iowa State will adjust, but not in such a dramatic manner that will leave Staten or Harris unaccounted for and unchecked. For the entirety of the season, Dibo and Adrian have been front runners. They get open shots because of the attention given to others, but they also shoot and score better when WVU is in the lead and confidence is high (Dibo did a lot of damage against Iowa State after WVU ran away, as an example). We really haven’t seen one or both carry the weight of the offense, or at least provide a leg to stand on and walk a mile.

WVU’s perpetual struggle this season has been finding a third scoring option, be it a player or a tactic. Losing Henderson and then managing all the subsequent side effects that absence causes, makes that struggle no easier. And for all we know, WVU may have more time than it cares to encounter to get a plan together.

And that’s just the offensive problem. Henderson is an above average defender who’d turned into a pretty good help side defender and rebounder. WVU isn’t as good in man-to-man without Henderson, but I don’t think WVU and its otherwise bad defense is going to win with man tonight. I think WVU is going to play a lot of zone and try, again, to keep the Cyclones from shooting 3s. It worked pretty well last time.

They’ll live with the drives and the jumpers and with DeAndre Kane and Melvin Ejim and Georges Niang posting up and stringing passes and cuts together for inside shots. The Mountaineers don’t want and can’t afford to see Iowa State bombing away from 3-point range. The crowd will turn the game in a hurry. Whether it’s the matchup zone or the 1-3-1 or even the tricky 1-2-2 trap, I think you’re going to see some sort of passive-aggressive chaos from the Mountaineers.

That’s all a part of the magic, so to speak, at the Hilton Coliseum tonight. How can WVU make up for the disappearance of Henderson? What tricks will the Mountaineers pull to defend better than they have the past two games, but honestly, for most of the season?

But Iowa State is now without magic wands to wave. No matter what or where, 102 points is 102 points and I promise you the Mountaineers are confident they can do that, or at least something similar, once again. The Cyclones have blemishes they have to mask there, and maybe on offense, too. WVU’s plan last time worked and it’s up to them to pull something out of their hats to make it different this time.

And finally, the three men in charge of the officiating have their work cut out for them, too, in case anyone has any ideas about revisiting what happened 16 days ago. I’m confident they’ve been briefed on the whos and the whats from the first game, so let’s keep an eye on early conferences and maybe even tight whistles.

Flagrant 3 coming up. Let’s blog.

36 Responses to “WVU v. Iowa State: Who are the magicians?”

  1. Josh24601 says:

    Here’s hoping Harristotle is what he consistently does. The making shots part, and not the turnstile-defense part.

  2. Mack says:

    I haven’t been sick so where I couldn’t go for more than a day or two in a row. . . maybe ever.

  3. netbros says:

    If it is mono that Henderson has, I can vouch for the fact that he cannot play. I was laid up in a hospital bed for 11 days when I was 28 years old, and all told I was sick for probably 5 weeks. The sickest I’ve ever been. Mono sucks.

  4. Dr. Casazza,

    I have this rash…

  5. Rugger says:

    Is anyone aware of the game being carried on FIOS in Northern VA?

  6. netbros says:

    It is on MASN and Altitude if you get either of those.

  7. Rugger says:

    MASN shows Mason/Richmond here but i can do espn3. Thanks netbros!

  8. Josh24601 says:

    Yo, Rugger. MASN2 is carrying it. Not sure whether Fios has that.

  9. Josh24601 says:

    Put it in their eye, Eron.

  10. Drew says:

    WVU can take this emotion and turn it against ISU. They seem on edge.

  11. Rugger says:

    Thanx Josh.

    Yo, Adrian!

  12. Drew says:

    Travel? Is that a joke?

  13. Drew says:

    Seriously, that call was absurd.

  14. avb31 says:

    This is going to get really ugly, really quickly.

  15. Rugger says:

    Tourniquet!

  16. Rugger says:

    Scalpal!

  17. Did Iowa State just let WVU go in at halftime so that “fat boy” could feed them pudding?

  18. Drew says:

    I’m impressed by that run. If we can keep up the effort, it’s still within reach. We haven’t been able to come back and win after being that far down yet. Throw in its one of the toughest venues in the conference and the odds aren’t good, but you never know. I thought we were done after all those three point plays.

  19. jtmountaineer says:

    This will stay tight if Harris can become a reasonable facsimile of his offensive self. He has not, unless I’m wrong, and I don’t think I am, previously missed two free throws in a Big 12 game all year.

  20. avb31 says:

    This has been a gutty effort tonight.

  21. Drew says:

    Horrible defense.

  22. Shoot4show says:

    Diang.

  23. Shoot4show says:

    I really wouldn’t know how to guard with these rules and the inconsistent manner in which they are called.

  24. netbros says:

    The final score looks worse than the effort. Too bad.

  25. overtheSEC says:

    Mike, I know your head is down and you’re writing but Huggins said something to Hoiberg at the handshake line and Id love to know what it was. It seemed like a complaint possibly about one of the Iowa State players.

  26. Daniel says:

    I caught that, too. He was pointing at something and barking in Hoiberg’s face. It was a brief shot before the camera cut away, but it looked… uncomfortable.

  27. jtmountaineer says:

    Thank god for TCU. Really, really need a win. Two wins, to be precise, and I really don’t know when or where that second one’s going to come. We really miss Terry defensively. I’m glad I can say that because it means he’s made progress, but damn, I don’t see great things in our future with him out indefinitely.

    Dibo was pretty solid. Williams looked good early and faded due in part to foul trouble. Harris had a very quiet 15 points. Watkins is looking a lot like Rutledge his first year. Good when he happens to be in the right place at the right time, but I think I know why he didn’t play last Saturday.

  28. jtmountaineer says:

    Incidentally, I don’t care for Hoiberg. Why is he such a media darling?

  29. Shoot4show says:

    Incidentally, I don’t think Huggs cares for Hoiberg either.

    And burn those socks in the same ash heap that once was that God awful mustard suit and shoes ensemble.

  30. Jvance says:

    Huggins is so over rated. Not a isu guy at all. All I hear is he’s a hof coach. Take out all the dII games and ones with belines players and what do you have. A fat guy with a red face and no championships and none on the way. They show him with all these wins beside other coaches. They have all won. He can’t. Can’t recruit good players. Don’t give me they are a football school either. We all know that’s not true. No 5 star wil play for him. They are going to smu, lsu, a lot of schools that are not duke or uk. So it’s not that. He gets guys that nobody wants. Then you get sub .500 year to year. Yes they are better this year. But haven’t they gotten worse every year he’s been there. Maybe another contract would work. He’s a joke!

  31. Jvance says:

    Why is my comment taking so long. Hate the truth

  32. Mack says:

    jt, because Hoiberg was a great college player (probably the all-time Iowa State fan favorite) and he’s back at his alma mater.

  33. jtmountaineer says:

    Mack, maybe I missed that period of college basketball. People treat him like he’s some sort of offensive maestro who will be coaching in the NBA whenever he decides it’s time. ISU has some nice pieces, but I still don’t see them going past the sweet 16.

    And Fred Hoiberg, you are no Jeff Hornacek.

  34. glibglub says:

    “Yes they are better this year. But haven’t they gotten worse every year he’s been there.”

    According to that first sentence, the answer to the second is “No”.

  35. MontanaEER says:

    Jvance brings the type of grammatical aptitude that we so loathe. You have no opinion if you can’t express it in a coherent manner.