MORGANTOWN, W.Va. - It's never too early to look to next year, right?
In the aftermath of West Virginia's rather disappointing performance at Texas last Saturday night, Juwan Staten did just that.
No, West Virginia's junior point guard hasn't given up on this year. Far from it. With five games left in the regular season and then the Big 12 tournament in Kansas City, Mo., there's still time for the Mountaineers to make a postseason push, be it the NCAA tournament or the NIT.
But when the conversation turned to what seemed to be the most telling aspect of how Texas managed to so dominate on Saturday - outscoring WVU 46-14 in the paint - Staten couldn't help but peer into the future.
"It's obvious that their strongest point is our weakest point,'' Staten said, referring to Texas with sophomores Cameron Ridley and Prince Ibeh in the middle playing against West Virginia freshmen Devin Williams and Brandon Watkins. "But if you look back to last year at Ridley and Ibeh, they weren't like this last year. They had to grow up, too.
"And now we have two young big men that have to experience it. Next year, I feel like they'll be playing more on this level. But it takes a year.''
Good point. Of course, it doesn't matter much this season because it is what it is. Williams and Watkins are freshmen. They struggle at times against the Ridleys and the Ibehs of the world. They could struggle again come Saturday when Baylor comes to the Coliseum with Isaiah Austin, Cory Jefferson and Rico Gathers.
Consider Staten's point, though.
As a freshman, Ridley averaged 16.4 minutes, 4.1 points, 4.3 rebounds and shot 33 percent from the free-throw line. Ibeh as a freshman averaged 10 minutes, 2.2 points, 2.6 rebounds and shot 37.5 percent from the foul line. And almost every one of those numbers for each was lower in Big 12 play when the competition was cranked up.
Now, look at Williams and Watkins as freshmen. Williams is averaging 23.1 minutes, 8.2 points, 6.9 rebounds and shooting 56.5 percent from the line. Watkins' numbers are 11.9 minutes, 2.8 points, 3.0 rebounds and 45 percent on free throws.