MORGANTOWN — With “Beetle” Bolden sitting out because of stretched ligaments in his hand, West Virginia guards were not on the top of their game in last week’s Gold-Blue Debut.
Jordan McCabe, Chase Harler, Jermaine Haley, Trey Doomes and Brandon Knapper combined to shoot 34 percent (11 of 32) from the floor and made just 1 of 12 — eight percent — from 3-point range.
That was not the kind of start the Mountaineers would have liked in trying to replace Jevon Carter and Daxter Miles Jr. at the two guard spots.
West Virginia coach Bob Huggins said his guard rotation still needs a lot of work, but shooting wasn’t exactly at the top of the list.
“I’m trying to get them to throw the ball to the guys with the same color shirts and keep it within the black lines,” Huggins said. “That would be a hell of an improvement if we could get them to do those two things.”
Bolden is a career 42 percent shooter from 3-point range, so getting him healthy will be key in improving WVU’s shooting touch.
“We’ve got to get him healthy,” Huggins said. “It’s the ligaments in his hand. They’re not torn. They’re stretched. When Beetle plays, he plays pretty well.”
Bolden is practicing with the Mountaineers, but there is no timetable on when his hand would be fully healthy.
The five guards who played in the 40-minute scrimmage combined for 16 assists and nine turnovers.
The turnovers may be the pressing point at the moment.
The Mountaineers are looking at McCabe, Haley or Knapper to take over as the lead guard with Bolden switching between point guard and shooting guard.
For the first-year guys, learning the intricacies of when and where to pass the ball is a challenge.
“A lot of it is you’ve got to know who to look for,” Huggins said. “You’re dribbling it all over the place and you got your head down and don’t see anybody. They have to know where to look and kind of know when someone is coming open.
“If they get covered up and throw it in there you end up forcing it or you end up chasing it or the other team gets help in there. That’s the challenge. You should know who’s coming open first, second or third and what do you do if the other team over helps. Where’s the ball supposed to go? That takes a while.”
Even for a skilled passer like McCabe, Huggins said it will take time for the freshman to figure out the correct plays to make.
“It’s kind of like being a quarterback who can really pass it, but he doesn’t know where to look,” Huggins said. “By the time he finds the open guy, he’s already covered up.
“That’s kind of where we are. We have a lot of work to do.”
West Virginia getting ranked 13th in the preseason poll counts as the 55th consecutive week the school has appeared in the AP Top 25.
That is one week shy of tying the school record of 56 weeks, set from March of 1956 to March of 1960.