Biding His Time

With eight freshmen on this season's roster, it certainly made sense to redshirt several of those newcomers. For freshman post player Jacob Green, the decision to sit out this season has turned out to pay huge dividends.

Don't be confused: just because the big man is sitting out doesn't mean that he's taken the year off by any stretch of the imagination. In fact, Green has spent the year working just as hard as everyone else on the team, even though he's not necessarily preparing for in-game situations.

"I've learned a lot," Green said earlier this week. "The opportunity to redshirt has given me a chance to get better, get stronger, and just learn little things about the offense and defense that Coach Beilein wants me to learn before next year."

The opportunity to redshirt arose prior to the season, and after mulling over his decision for awhile, Jacob decided that in the end it was probably in the best interest of both himself and the team to sit out the 2006-2007 campaign. With senior center Rob Summers returning, and Butler transfer Jamie Smalligan being eligible after sitting out last season, Green wasn't likely to see many minutes anyways.

"(Green and head coach John Beilein) talked about it before the season started," explained the well-spoken youngster. "When it was time for me to make the decision, we felt like it was a good idea for everybody involved. I still had to develop my body to get bigger, and I had to get used to the speed of things around here, and to the speed of college basketball."

When he finally does take the court next season, Mountaineer fans should be prepared to see a skill set that isn't what they're used to seeing from big shooters such as Smalligan and former Mountaineer great Kevin Pittsnogle. Truth be told, Green's game is a mix between the scrappy, active style of Summers and the soft-touch shooting of former center D'or Fischer.

"It's not so much three-pointers like (Smalligan or Pittsnogle)," Green said. "I'm more of a mid-range shooter, and also taking it to the basket. On defense, I'm more of a shot blocker. I like to block shots.

"My mid-range jump shot and my hook shot have been getting better. Coach has been working with me a lot on the hook shot. I've been working a lot on things like that, and my post moves like a reverse pivot."

At Mountaineer home games, you can find Green sitting on the end of the bench in dress clothes cheering on his teammates. While trading in the jersey and shorts for a shirt and tie probably isn't the way he envisioned things playing out in his freshman year when he signed on with the Mountaineer program, the D.C. native is making the most of his first season in Morgantown.

"It is hard sometimes to sit there and watch a game from the bench when you want to be out there playing with the rest of the team, because you practice so hard just like they do. It will all work out for the best in the end, though."

As for life outside of basketball, Green has had no trouble adjusting to the college-town atmosphere in Morgantown, which stands in stark contrast to the hustle and bustle of our nation's capital.

"I've enjoyed it. I'm really comfortable here. I like the atmosphere, and how calm it is. It's kind of away from everything here, too. I went to school in the city, and there was a lot of commotion and things like that. Here, everything is so calm. I like that. The people are very nice, too."

According to Beilein, the decision by Green and a handful of his teammates to redshirt this season has worked out beautifully for all parties involved.

"That's been a great decision," said the fifth-year Mountaineer mentor. "For all of our redshirts it has been a terrific decision. He and Cam Thoroughman for the last month have been outstanding in practice. It's really been good. It's given (freshman guard) Jonnie (West) a year to get stronger, and (sophomore forward) Josh Sowards and (freshman guard) Dennis (Gagai) have gotten stronger too. It's been good for everybody."

When next season rolls around, Green hopes to contribute to the team on gameday. With Summers being gone, the opportunity for playing time will certainly be there for his taking. Until then, though, he's content with improving himself as a player everyday in practice.

"I think I'll fit in pretty well once I get the hang of things."

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