Mountaineer centers heard the cry often during the second half loss to Notre Dame. It sounded like "Booooooooo", but in reality, it was "Shoooooooot".

After a first half spent chasing the Mountaineer transition attack Wednesday evening, Notre Dame switched tactics in the second half by playing a zone and a box and one against West Virginia.

The result was that WVU scoring threats like Lionel Armstead, Chris Moss and Jonathan Hargett were stifled. However, every defense has a hole, and this one was in the middle.

Time and again in the second half, Mountaineer centers got the ball five or six feet from the basket without pressure. And time and again they quickly passed the ball elsewhere without even considering an offensive move.

WVU post players also receive the ball at the elbow of the foul line repeatedly, but often never even turned to face the basket. The end result was that Notre Dame's interior players never were seriously pressured, and were free to help out with other defensive assignments. When a physical player like Ryan Humphrey plays 38 minutes and only accrues two fouls, you know he's not being pressured on defense.

So, the call from here is for the centers to shoot. I'm not advocating that Oliver and Garnett put up fifteen shots per game, but the fact is that they have to start relieving some of the pressure on Chris Moss in the paint, or this season will be lost.

I've maintained before that Oliver is a good shooter. His shots may look ugly, but they go in. Oliver is shooting 57.7% from the field and 81% from the foul line! The problem is that he's only taken 26 shots from the field and only gotten to the line 16 times. That's exactly two shots per game and barely better than one free throw attempt per game.

If Oliver could get seven shots per game, WVU's offense would be in much better shape.

The same is true of Chris Garnett, whose playing time has been limited by defensive liabilities as well as his passivity on offense. Garnett doesn't shoot as well as Oliver, but he has a nice little jump hook that he could easily employ a couple of times per game.

Josh Yeager
While we're on this shooting kick, another player who needs to get off the unselfish pot is Josh Yeager. Yeager has the best pure shooting stroke on the squad, but he sometimes seems strangely passive on the offensive end.

Early in the Notre Dame game, Yeager threw a shot fake at the three point line, drove the baseline, and took a soft floating shot from about eight feet that was nothing but net. At 6-8, Yeager has the ability to do that several times per game, but I'm not sure if he's convinced himself that he is able to do it.

Yeager averages fewer than five shots per game, but just like Oliver, that number needs to go up for WVU to have success on the floor.

There's no magic number, of course, but a shot distribution something along these lines would probably maximize WVU's offensive potential:

Moss: 15
Armstead: 10
Hargett: 10
Yeager: 8
Sally : 7
Schifino: 7
Oliver: 6

Obviously, these numbers aren't set in stone, and would fluctuate depending on the matchups and strategies of any particular game. But the fact remains that two of WVU's better shooters simply aren't pulling the trigger enough. That has to change, and fast.

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