Coming into the 2014-15 season, the only hope West Virginia seemed to have was their star guard, Juwan Staten. Times have changed. As it turns out, Bob Huggins can still coach pretty darn well and has put together a defense so fun to watch it earned a catchy nickname, “Press Virginia.” Even though Press Virginia has made West Virginia a national power and has them on the road to the NCAA tournament, if WVU wants more, they need Staten.
Staten is averaging 14.4 points per game this season. He averaged 18.8 last year. His field goal percentage last year was almost fifty percent and now it’s down to just above forty. His assists, rebounds, steals, and free throw percentage are all below last season’s average.
When the team was awful last year, Staten made it watchable with his brilliant play. This season Staten is really more of a role player and that has to change. If you take a look at the games where Staten steps up, they are the contests when the Mountaineers show a different side to their game beyond just Press Virginia. They have some offensive firepower.
Staten delivered 17 in WVU’s win over defending champions, Connecticut. He put up 24 against NC State, put up 24 in a close loss to Iowa State, and 18 in a statement win in overtime over TCU. What might be even more revealing about Staten’s importance might be what happens when Staten does not deliver points. There are three games this season where Staten put up single digits in the points column. Against Texas, Staten managed just three points in a twenty-seven point drubbing at the hands of the Longhorns, this past weekend, he put up six in another huge loss to Baylor, and finally against Oklahoma where he only put up three points. In that game, WVU won big but Staten also had one of his best games passing with eight assists.
It’s time for Staten to take over the reigns as not just a leader but the leader of this team. He needs to go back to being a feared guard so that the Mountaineers offense will not be looked down upon. They need him to be a catalyst to break WVU out of their cold nights shooting the basketball. The Big 12 power teams are beginning to figure out the Press Virginia defense and are beginning to exploit it. If Staten was to find his shooting and passing ability again, then the Mountaineers would have an offense that other teams would have to pay greater attention to. Sometimes we forget that Staten is a point guard considering his 4.4 assists per game but he needs to get the offense kick started.
When watching a West Virginia game, it’s obvious that the offense plays like they are making the whole thing up as they go. They act as if they have no planned offense at all. They need Staten to drive to the hole. This is what made him so dangerous last year. This year he has already settled for almost three times the amount of three pointers he attempted last season. If Staten can go back to being a major offensive threat then the Mountaineers would have a chance at a Big 12 title, if not they will be a one and done in the NCAA tournament.