Daxter Miles merely explains what West Virginia is doing this season and how it’s been so effective. Trent Johnson, Bruce Weber, Norense Odiase and Aaron Ross, who have in the past three games combined for two technical fouls, a flagrant foul and a temper tantrum that resulted in a public reprimand from the Big 12 commissioner, are illustrating what it’s like to play against and fall victim to the Mountaineers.
There’s something happening here, and what it is is exactly clear.
“If you’re walking down the street and a guy hops out and he’s in your face for two blocks, you’d be uncomfortable there, wondering, ‘What is this guy doing? Get away from me,’” Williams said. “That’s what we’re doing to teams.”
That was Texas Tech’s 10th turnover out of 11 in the first half. The Red Raiders would then start the second half with 10 turnovers in the first 13 possessions as the Mountaineers (18-3, 6-2) put the game out of reach with a 16-2 run for a 20-point lead.
“It’s all because of pressure,” Staten said. “In one instance, the pressure made them a little frustrated. In another instance, it made them turn the ball over. It all goes back to pressure and what we try to do on the defensive end.”
The Mountaineers are known for their full-court, full-game press this season, and rightfully so since they lead the nation in steals per game (12.4, still shy of LIU-Brooklyn’s NCAA record of 14.9 in the 1997-98 season). WVU also leads the NCAA in turnovers forced per game (22.3). About 10 times a game, though, the opponent turns the ball over without the Mountaineers stealing it. WVU forces passes out of bounds, traveling calls, inbounding and backcourt violations or offensive fouls with its pressure presence on defense.
“If you ask any basketball player on offense, they don’t like dudes who play a lot of defense,” freshman guard Daxter Miles said. “It gets in their heads. I used to hate that, when a dude wanted to play defense the whole game.”