MORGANTOWN - Statistically speaking, the reason West Virginia's basketball team was so good last year was that even though the Mountaineers weren't a scoring machine, they did do two things as well as almost anyone in the country - they played defense and they got offensive rebounds.
The second of those was especially important in making up for a lack of offensive might because it created so many more opportunities to score.
As the Mountaineers head to San Juan for the Puerto Rico Shootout that begins Thursday, however, both of those strengths from a year ago are concerns now for coach Bob Huggins.
The offensive rebounding is of particular concern. The Mountaineers did it rather well in an exhibition game with UNC-Pembroke and Friday's regular-season debut against Oakland, getting 22 in the first and 16 in the second. But that's not good enough for Huggins.
"We haven't rebounded it as well offensively as we're capable of doing,'' Huggins said.
That, however, comes with a bit of an asterisk. In the 95-71 win over Oakland, the Mountaineers shot 29 3-pointers and made 12. Given all those 3-point attempts and Huggins' self-stated frustration with not being able to get the ball inside as much as he would like, shouldn't those offensive rebounding numbers naturally fall?
"That probably has something to do with it,'' Huggins said, "although we usually rebound the ball very well against a zone and you probably have a tendency to shoot deeper shots against a zone. We're just not getting to the spots that we need to get to on a consistent basis like we did a year ago. You could pretty much make book that we were going to be where we were supposed to be a year ago.''
All of which raises yet another question: Will the Mountaineers continue to attempt 3-pointers at the rate they showed in the opener? West Virginia has already matched its season high for 3-pointers a year ago after just one game.
"We're capable of making 20. We've got some guys that can shoot the ball,'' Huggins said. "What we can't do is we can't totally rely on that.''
Indeed, in the win over Oakland, West Virginia was 9-of-14 on 3-pointers in the first half while rolling up a 24-point lead and then just 3-of-15 in the second while playing to a draw.
"We shoot  percent in the first half and 20 percent in the second half,'' Huggins said. "There's probably going to be days when we shoot 20 percent for the game. We need to be able to score other ways.