Learning to Lead

To say that Juwan Staten's first season playing for Bob Huggins was a learning experience would be an understatement.

Even though it was Staten's second season in the West Virginia basketball program, it was his first year actually getting to play for Huggins after sitting a year due to NCAA transfer rules following his decision to transfer to Morgantown from Dayton.

When Staten finally got back out on the floor for his sophomore season, he fell back into some old habits. The numbers that resulted were well below what he and many associated with the program expected to see.

He started 21 games in his first year at WVU, averaging 7.6 points and 3.3 assists per game.

This happened as the Mountaineers struggled, falling deep into one of their worst seasons in recent memory - losing eight of their last 10 games and missing the postseason entirely for the first time since the 2001-02 season.

Now, looking ahead at what's to come in the 2013-14 season, Staten can reflect on what went wrong. And many of West Virginia's problems a year ago stemmed from a lack of leadership among that 13-19 team.

"When Coach Huggs does the best is when he has a player that he can trust, that really knows what's going on," Staten said. "I saw that with KJ. He really trusted KJ and put a lot of responsibility on KJ and Truck as well. He kind of left it up to them to lead the team.

"Last year, he didn't have that type of player to put the responsibility on. So, I wanted to be that player this year that he could give a lot of responsibility to and just know that I'm not going to go out there and play the way he wants me to play."

At numerous times last season, Staten found himself stuck in Huggins' doghouse. After starting and playing significant minutes in each of the Mountaineers' first 14 games, he started just two of WVU's next 13 contests - playing more than 30 minutes in just three games during that stretch.

When the end of the season rolled around, Staten admitted to looking back and realizing that he had plenty of work to do if he wanted to get to the point where his teammates and his coaches could look to him to be a big leader.

After a lot of talks with Huggins and his father, Staten is heading into this season with a new attitude that looks to have paid off so far.

"I finally understand exactly what it is that he wants," Staten said. "Until I met Coach Huggins, I was just kind of an offensive player that played a little defense, just enough not to stand out. But I realized that's not enough for Coach Huggs, he was always getting on me and telling me I wasn't doing enough. If you're giving what he wants on defense, he tends to be a little more lenient on the offensive end."

Huggins has seen a change in his point guard, praising Staten quite a bit throughout the preseason as one of the Mountaineers who stepped up and made major strides between now and the end of last season.

"Wanny's done a great job of trying to understand what we need done and, therefore, he can help guys. He's done a really good job of that," Huggins said. "Wanny has really figured out how hard you have to play, and he's leading by example. You can't just say, 'I'm going to be the leader,' and tell everybody what to do when you don't do it yourself.

"You have to do it yourself before you can expect anybody else to do it."


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