West Virginia's first true road test of the season will be a daunting one as the Mountaineers will take on the No.6 Virginia Cavaliers in Charlottesville on Saturday afternoon. West Virginia's players are all too familiar with how talented and fundamentally sound the Cavaliers are after Virginia beat the Mountaineers by 16 points at Madison Square Garden a year ago. WVU head coach Bob Huggins reflected on that loss to UVA and stated that the Mountaineers were done in by a number of mistakes rather than a schematic disadvantage.
"We just did dumb things," Huggins said in respect to last year's contest. "We made mistakes that led to lay-ups. We overran the ball and gave up a huge three that really got it going. We came down and made a turnover when we were three-on-one and that got it going. We can't do those kind of things. The guys that we overran were guys that weren't going to advance the ball and we had to make rotations that we shouldn't of had to make."
Obviously the Mountaineers will need to play sound basketball if they hope to get the win in Charlottesville on Saturday, but the Mountaineers will also have to find a way to speed up the Cavaliers, who run a much slower paced brand of basketball than the frenetic, up-tempo pressure filled system that West Virginia runs. Huggins said that task in itself will be a challenge, but he feels the most important thing the Mountaineers can do is take care of the ball and make shots.
"You have to make shots," Huggins said. "(Virginia) makes open shots, they make open free throws and they don't turn the ball over. You can't turn it over to them and particularly you can't turn the ball over for scores. It's going to be less possessions because of the way they play. That's part of it. You can't give them open shots and you can't give them lay-ups. They do a good job of getting it to the rim when they need baskets."
Of course, when discussing UVA's basketball team most think of the Cavaliers' tough pack line defense - one that held West Virginia to 54 points (and just 18 in the second half) a year ago. Senior forward Nathan Adrian, who has been one of West Virginia's most consistent offensive players thus far, spoke about UVA's defense and what makes it so tough to execute against.
"They just make you shoot over them," Adrian said. "They don't give you driving lanes or easy buckets. They make you shoot over them and hope that you miss."
Adrian also took some time to lament on last year's loss to UVA and spoke about the main factors that led to the disappointing result for the Mountaineers.
"(Virginia) made a couple of adjustments but we just weren't being patient enough to get the shots we wanted like we were in the first half," Adrian reflected. "We were taking more jump shots (in the second half) and it didn't go well for us. Hopefully we continue to execute well and score on them."