CONWAY, S.C. — In helping West Virginia capture third place at the Myrtle Beach Invitational, Sagaba Konate showed there are two different versions of his offensive game:
Mr. Inside and Mr. Outside.
It’s likely the Mountaineers will need both before this season comes to an end.
“We made a conscious effort to throw the ball to Sags [in the paint],” West Virginia coach Bob Huggins said after the Mountaineers beat Saint Joseph’s, 97-90 on Sunday, at the HTC Center. “We did a better job in the first half than in the second half. They kind of gang-guarded him in the second half.”
For good reason. The 6-foot-8 Konate scored the majority of his 15 points in the paint and he added nine rebounds.
In a game where the Mountaineers went 15 of 29 from 3-point range — the most 3-pointers by WVU since also knocking down 15 against New Hampshire in 2016 — Konate didn’t attempt a single one.
“They did a great job of surrounding him in there in the second half and he did a great job of passing it out,” Huggins said, noting Konate also finished with four assists. “If he can get our other guys open, that’s pretty valuable.”
The first two rounds of the MBI — a win against Monmouth and a loss against Western Kentucky — saw Konate lean toward his outside shooting, rather than his inside power game.
In those two games, Konate combined for eight 3-point attempts and 19 points. On the season, he’s 4 of 12 from 3-point range after never attempting a single one in his first two seasons with the Mountaineers.
“It doesn’t matter to me which kind of game the coaches want me to play,” Konate said. “Our game plan [against Saint Joseph’s] was to go inside and make them guard me down low, so we could get our shooters open, and that’s what we did.”
Konate missed all three of his 3-point attempts in the semifinals against Western Kentucky.
That statistic doesn’t exactly bother Huggins.
The timing of Konate’s three deep misses does irk the coach a little bit.
“I don’t have a problem with him shooting threes,” Huggins said. “I have a problem when he was shooting it. Just like I had a problem with a bunch of them. It’s when they were shooting, not that they’re shooting them.
“They’ve got to shoot it if they’re open, but they don’t have to shoot it five seconds into the shot clock. We can get a better shot probably.”
As for having a better feel for a style of play, Konate said he was comfortable with Mr. Inside and Mr. Outside.
“It just felt to get a win and to do what the coaches tell us to do,” he said.
The Mountaineers returned to Morgantown in preparation for three straight home games beginning Saturday against Valparaiso.
The five days of prep time will also be used to get point guard Beetle Bolden as healthy as possible.
Bolden, who has been dealing with stretched ligaments in his left shooting hand, also injured his left elbow while taking a charge against Monmouth on Thursday. The junior played in the semifinals against Western Kentucky, but was unable to go against Saint Joseph’s.
“I feel really bad for him,” Huggins said. “His first year he tears his ACL and we redshirt him. He’s been banged up.
“We still haven’t had a game yet where we had everybody healthy. We can get healthy, which is what we’re going to try and do.”