The Roos are a three-point shooting team, one which features a trio of players who have taken almost 50 percent of their shoots from long range. It's how the program has overcome being outrebounded, and committing nearly as many turnovers as it has forced while winning seven of its first 11 games.
"They've got three guys that over 80 percent of their (made) shots are threes," WVU head coach Bob Huggins said. "They are gonna really try to spread us and try to shoot a lot of threes. It's kinda interesting because we are going to have to make really good rotations coming out of traps because they are going to shoot it quicker than a lot of people would."
UMKC averages more than 10 made threes per game, giving it 30-plus points of its 79.4 points per outing. Kansas City is hitting at a 41.7 percent clip from three-point range and offers two players in guards LaVell Boyd and Isaiah Ross who have made at least 24 threes this season. The senior-freshman combo is a combined 44-for-104 (42.3 percent) this season, while four other players are shooting close to 40 percent this season. The Roos are also consistent at the free throw line, burying 71.8 percent. The ability to hit from anywhere on the floor has offset the other issues, including a negative assist-to-turnover ratio.
They key for the Mountaineers will be to utilize pressure throughout the game, force UMKC into its typically high number of turnovers, and allow the cumulative effect to wear on the shooting legs later in the game. That, combined with superior talent and conditioning, should give WVU an edge if it can close out quickly enough on the wide-ranging offensive threats.
"I think anything different helps us," Huggins said of scouting UMKC and how the contest with aid his team as the season progresses. "It's so much easier to teach when you have a frame of reference. Then you can go back and say 'Well, remember what they did to us and how they tried to attack us?' The more we get under our belt, particularly with the young guys, the better. With the older guys we could go back a year or two. The younger guys, it's really helping them understand better."
West Virginia (8-1) took Tuesday off, and will practice Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. Tarik Phillip said the team had yet to watch film on UMKC, and that the better part of the last four days has been focused upon academics and bettering the Mountaineers themselves. The guard said there were aspects of the press and other defensive fundamentals to polish.
"The hardest thing is inconsistency," Huggins said. "We try to have constants. In he press, we don't have a lot of rules, but the rules we have we have to be consistent with. Because the way we play, you have to have five guys working in unison or it's not going to work. There have to be some constants and from there you play basketball. Effort. I don't yank them for taking shots. I want them to be comfortable offensively. It comes down to defensively that there are a lot of teams whose fundamental suck. But they play so hard it compensates."
Huggins is also on the verge of his 800th career win, something only 19 other men's coaches in all of the NCAA have accomplished. Huggins is currently the third winningest active Division I coach, and needs seven wins to pass Eddie Sutton for eighth place all-time at the DI level.
"I'm not very nostalgic," Huggins said. "Is that the right word? I just want to win. You have to do what you have to do to win."