Basketball Preview - Point Guards

Mountaineer fans are excited about the prospects of Jonathan Hargett manning the point position this fall, but a couple of minor questions need to be resolved to make the point a position of strength.

In early preseason practices, Hargett has been as good as advertised, handling the ball well in transition, penetrating and passing, and playing defense with intensity. By all expectations, he should hit the ground running and be the Mountaineers' starter at the point when the season opens.

Of course, there are two or three highly rated players coming out of high school that prove to be busts in college, but we don't see that fate awaiting Hargett. He has the all-around game that should allow him to weather rough spots during the season.

The biggest challenge facing Hargett is likely the curse of high expectations, and, later in the season, fatigue. West Virginia fans have experienced first hand the feelings of letdown this year with the disappointing first half of the football team, and would be wise not to expect too much of a true freshman, no matter how talented. So, if Hargett doesn't average twenty points, eight assists and two dunks per game, don't despair. Concentrate instead on how he runs the team. Does he get the ball to the right player in the right spot? Is he playing defense? Our bet is the answers to those questions will be yes.

The second factor, fatigue, is more important. Head coach Gale Catlett has said that his goal is for his guards to play approximately thirty minutes per game. Last season, starters Tim Lyles and Lionel Armstead routinely exceeded that mark. At the end of the season, fatigue was definitely a factor in West Virginia's play, so keeping the minutes down is a major concern.

Jay Hewitt
Of course, if Tim Lyles was available, this wouldn't be a problem. Since he is not his absence dictates that sophomore Jay Hewitt return to the point for this season. The question is, can Hewitt provide the 10-12 minutes per game at point that West Virginia needs?

The goals for Hewitt aren't outlandish. He shouldn't have to worry about providing too much scoring. He needs to run the offense, protect the ball, and be able to play for a couple of 4-5 minute stretches.

When handling the ball, Hewitt is sure to see some pressure from opponents. He needs to use his height in the backcourt to throw over traps, and also make use of his wingmen in breaking presses. He needs to stay calm in the halfcourt, recognize defenses, and get his teammates into the right sets.

Those tasks are a little more difficult than they appear. At times, Hewitt (and Hargett) might be playing with for teammates that are in their first season at WVU. Mistakes and jitters are sure to appear, and it will be the duty of the point guard to maintain order.

Defensively, Hargett should be able to play any sort of set that Gale Catlett calls. He is quick enough to stay with any point, and muscular enough to ody up with anyone who tries to post him. His only concern is height. At 5-11, teams may be able to pass over him, but he should be able to make up for that with quickness.

Hewitt, being taller, should be able to trap effectively. He has a long reach, which helps in zones and defending passing lanes, but his quickness in matching up with opposing points in man to man situations might be a concern. Look for WVU to change defensive strategies somewhat when Hewitt is in the game, and for him to concentrate on positioning when forced to play man to man.

If Hewitt flaters, Tobias Seldon will likely get a chance at the point. Seldon faces an uphill battle for playing time at either the point or the shotting guard position, so his best option appears to be as a utility player that can sub at either position. Seldon didn't get much, if any, work at the point guard last season, so his abilities there are unknown at this point.

Up next, a look at the shooting guard position.

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