The Dominion Post  

Mountaineers urge Lamont West to take his shots

Created on:   Thu, Feb 8, 2018   11:14 PM

Last modified:   Thu, Feb 8, 2018   11:13 PM

The Dominion Post

MORGANTOWN — Jevon Carter’s words to teammate Lamont West echoed those of the WVU men’s basketball coaches.

They were simple and to the point.

“I told him, ‘Don’t hesitate. Let it go. You’re a shooter, that’s what you do.’ ” Carter said.

West was a shooter at the end of a three-week slump when WVU arrived at Oklahoma, on Feb. 5.

For the sophomore, that stretch was not an easy thing to forget.

Moving on to the next game became more of a task once West started to take a deeper look at his game, WVU head coach Bob Huggins said.

Where was he taking most of his shots?

Did he have good form? Good rotation?

“We’ve all been as a staff telling Lamont, ‘Just shoot the ball, man.’ He’s analyzing every shot,” Huggins said. “We told him that if he catches it, just shoot it.”

But West had fallen into some bad habits that shooters sometimes do when shots aren’t falling.

Instead of launching jump shots, West attempted to add more to his game, by driving to the basket and trying to play with contact.

“He’s just got to play,” Huggins said. “Sometimes you can overthink things and I think he was overthinking things.

“You can’t think yourself through a jump shot. It’s got to be neuromuscular integration. Hopefully, he’ll be able to do that.”

Even during WVU’s 75-73 victory against Oklahoma, on Monday, West began with a flurry of 3-pointers — making 5 of 6 in the first half — only to pass one up with 5:32 remaining in the game that caused Huggins to sub out for West.

“We were all upset with him, because he had an open shot and he pump-faked it and dribbled it,” Huggins said. “We end up with a shot-clock violation. He’s got to shoot the ball when he’s open. Make or miss, he’s got to shoot it.”

And how well West shoots it can become a deciding factor in how successful the 19th-ranked Mountaineers (18-6, 7-4 Big 12) can be.

In games when West shoots 50 percent or better from the field, the Mountaineers are a perfect 9-0, including a win against Virginia, two against Kansas State and the Feb. 5 victory against the Sooners.

WVU is 4-4 when West shoots 30 percent from the floor or worse.

“He’s been a lot better,” Huggins said. “Obviously, we’d like him to shoot a little more consistent. He had that one little flurry [against Oklahoma] and then had some good looks in the second half that didn’t go down.”

In his last two games, West is 7 of 12 (58 percent) from 3-point range and its come at a time when other WVU players seem to be recovering from their own slumping play.

Esa Ahmad shot 65 percent (15 of 23) over his last three games, while Teddy Allen scored 12 points in Saturday’s win, against Kansas State — the first time he was in double figures since Jan. 6.

“Anytime you can put a guy on the floor who can score, that bodes well for you,” Huggins said. “We’ve got to keep working with Lamont. We’ve got to keep working with Wes (Harris). I think Esa is getting better and feeling more comfortable.”