The Point Is...

At this point in the season, the West Virginia basketball seasons doesn't have one. A point guard, that is.

WVU's problems at the point guard were easy to see and simpler to quantify during Wednesday night's loss to Rutgers.

When Jonathan Hargett was in the game, WVU broke the Scarlet Knight press, but the halfcourt offense was disjointed. As has happened far too often this year, long shots were launched early in the posession. No offensive rhythm was established, and Chris Moss touched the ball far too many times.

Moss should have had 40 points against the outmanned Rutgers front line. After sparking WVU's first half rally and saddling Rashod Kent with three fouls, Moss barely got a glimpse of the orange orb in the second half. Kent escaped the game with no further fouls, and Rutgers cruised. Moss should have gotten the rock on at least three or four possessions early in the second half. Instead, he was left standing idly by.

When Hargett was out, backup Jay Hewitt had problems getting the ball across halfcourt, but to be fair he didn't have much help. Mountaineers that were dashing to open spots against the press when Hargett was in the game were standing rooted in one spot, resulting in several backcourt turnovers and violations. Hewitt did better in the halfcourt, but still has the tendency to pick up the ball too early and too far from the basket when running the offense.

Despite the struggles of these two players, Lionel Armstead got almost no time at the point. It's common knowledge that Armstead is not suited to the point guard position, but it's a bit surprising that WVU didn't at least give him a shot during the Rutgers debacle.

So, with Hargett expected to be sidelined for at least five games, what can be done?

First, we'd go with Armstead at point. We know it's not his favorite position, but at this time he is a bit steadier than Hewitt on both ends of the floor.

We'd play Drew Schifino at the two, and back him up with a rotation of Hewitt and Josh Yeager, if needed. Those tree would give the Mountaineers a bit of flexibility against differing opposing lineups.

Tyrone Sally, with Yeager again backing him up, would man the three spot. At the four, we'd play Chris Moss until he drops. He's WVU's best player by a wide margin, and if that means 38 minutes per night, then so be it. Chaz Briggs and Yeager could provide spot relief.

At the five, there are so many variables that it's hard to make a call. For every flash of promise one of the centers shows, thee are two or three corresponding negatives that seem to put them back in the pack. On the basis of sheer bulk, John Oliver and Chris Garnett get the nod, although if Garnett brings the ball down below his waist one more time after a defensive rebound we are going to scream.

Might it be the time to go with a lineup that puts the best players on the floor, regardless of position? What about a lineup of Armstead, Schifino, Sally, Moss and Yeager? WVU is getting killed on the offensive boards anyway - would that lineup do any worse?

WVU is at a cruical point in the season, and the time for excuses is past. The Mountaineers are in serious danger of finishing last in the West Division, and need to win all three of their remaining conference games in January to have any hope at all of escaping the cellar.


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