There might not be a team in the landscape of college basketball that relies as much on its bench as West Virginia does.
It’s gotten to the point where head coach Bob Huggins almost has two starting units, a la his good buddy John Calipari from Kentucky last season.
While it has mostly been Jaysean Paige and Tarik Phillip providing the boost off the bench, there have been plenty of guys further down the line that have made their mark on important games this year.
Last night, it was Teyvon Myers' turn. The junior guard from Brooklyn, New York, has become beloved by fans for his lively bench celebrations of his teammates’ accomplishments, but last night he gave people a reason to cheer for him.
Myers played the most efficient game of his West Virginia career so far, scoring seven points, pulling down three rebounds, tallying an assist, and perhaps most importantly, didn’t turn the ball over in his eight minutes on the floor.
Earlier in the year, Myers had rated his confidence level at about a 7 out of 10. After the game, his stock on the self-confidence scale grew.
“After tonight, I would just say that I feel like I got better. I’m getting more comfortable. I’m at about an 8 now. I’ll just go up one number because I’m still not giving the team as much as I can. I feel that if I go to practice and keep working hard, that number is going to keep going up, and good thing will come out of it,” Myers said.
Myers has taken on his bench role with a workman-like attitude. So much so, that it is hard to imagine he was the leading scorer in junior college, averaging 25 points per game at Williston State College last season. After transferring to West Virginia, Myers said he knew his role would change, which would come with a shift in focus for his game.
“I don’t worry about offense like that, because I know the team needs me to play a lot of defense. Either way, I’ve been a scorer my whole life. So if I shoot the ball, I’m not worried about the ball missing or hitting the shot. I’ve been hitting shots my whole life. I’m just worried about getting in there, locking down my man and helping my team win in whatever way I can,” he said.
Myers has shown himself to be about as goal-oriented a player there is. For a player that is used to scoring whenever he wants, Myers is adjusting to being a role player seamlessly.
“I’m honestly fine with it. Not to throw shade on my last school, or any school, but I haven’t won a championship; a national championship. If me choosing a role, and doing good with my role brings a championship I’m fine with that. I’m fine with that,” he said.
Perhaps the most important part of Myers’ role, at least to this point in his WVU career, has been encourager in chief. Last night, with team leader Devin Williams having another tough game, Myers’ offered a pep talk for his teammate.
“I’m just saying, ‘Dev, you know no one can stop you but you. This team loves you. Everybody loves you. I love you, bro. You’re our leader and we need you to lead.’ I’ll always look up to Dev, no matter what, because he stays positive at all times. Dev is a guy that you can talk to, and he’ll listen,” he said.
I’m just trying to let him know that ‘the only person stopping you out there is you. You’re a beast Dev. You’re the best big man in the country to me. I wouldn’t trade nobody for you.’ I just try to put that in his ear and let him know the team loves him. Everybody needs him. We need him to win,” he said.
West Virginia might not have needed Williams’ typical production to beat Kansas State last night, but Myers’ knows his team needs its leader to accomplish its ultimate goal, and every team needs a player like Myers to step up when called upon.