MORGANTOWN, W.Va. -- Bob Huggins has watched his restructured West Virginia basketball team play two live scrimmages so far this preseason - an intrasquad contest in front of fans 12 days ago and a closed scrimmage at Ohio State last Saturday.
The date at Ohio State was no doubt more telling because it came against outside competition. To a certain extent, Huggins seemed pleased.
"We competed. I thought we really did compete,'' he said Tuesday. "But we didn't shoot it very well.''
Therein rests the common thread between the only two quasi-games the Mountaineers have played. Both times Huggins was reasonably pleased with how his team battled, but not with how it shot the basketball.
Is that reason enough for concern? Well, yes. And perhaps no.
"Yeah,'' Huggins said when asked directly if his team's poor shooting twice was a red flag. "But we make shots in practice. You would think at some point in time, it would translate into doing it in games. But we do shoot the ball well in practice.''
The poor shooting is a concern, of course, because shooting was near the top of the list among many faults with last year's 13-19 team. The Mountaineers shot just 31.6 percent from 3-point range and 40.8 percent overall, compared to 38.1 and 44.8 for opponents.
But while improved shooting was a goal for this season, in that intrasquad scrimmage the team combined to shoot just 6 for 37 (16.2 percent) from 3-point range. The numbers from the closed scrimmage in Columbus, according to Huggins, apparently weren't much better.
In addition to their routine scrimmages during practice, the Mountaineers have just one more chance to try to put the ball in the basket more consistently before the season opens a week from Friday at home against Mount St. Marys. That will come when WVU hosts Fairmont State Monday night in an exhibition game.
Again, Huggins can't imagine why the shooting won't improve and is holding firm in his belief that the two poor performances in the scrimmage settings were merely coincidental.
"I don't think anybody's going to say Terry Henderson's not a good shooter or Eron Harris isn't a good shooter,'' Huggins said, referring to the guards who emerged as two of West Virginia's best scorers last season as freshmen. "They've kind of proven that they were. They just haven't done it yet this year.''