West Virginia’s Brandon Knapper responds to Bob Huggins’ challenge

MORGANTOWN — Short of putting up help wanted signs on the doors of the WVU Coliseum or taking out an ad in the classifieds, Bob Huggins’ search for a point guard to replace Jevon Carter has been long and extensive.

“We’ve gone through the gambit of trying to find a point guard,” Huggins said.

The qualifications, the West Virginia coach believes, are rather simple:

“I’m trying to find somebody who won’t turn it over and plays really hard,” Huggins said.

That has been harder than expected and the Mountaineers rotation of point guards all have something working against them through the team’s first four games.

Beetle Bolden hasn’t been healthy and is listed as day-to-day with an elbow injury.

Jordan McCabe has yet to register an assist.

Jermaine Haley is hesitant offensively and is shooting only 50 percent from the foul line.

Former South Charleston standout Brandon Knapper has struggled, too. His nine turnovers are second-most on a team that gives it up almost 18 times a game.

Huggins was also unpleased with Knapper’s effort, that was, until the two finally had a chance to sit down and chat.

“He and I had a very stern talk at halftime,” Huggins said after the Mountaineers defeated Saint Joseph’s on Sunday. “I didn’t think he was playing very hard.”

The result? Knapper played 13 minutes in the second half against the Hawks and scored nine points with four rebounds and two assists in those 13 minutes.

The opportunity arose when Bolden was held out of the game because of his elbow.

“Beetle is a great point guard and we work hard every day,” Knapper said. “We just needed someone to step up. If he’s not playing in the next game, we’ll need someone to step up again.”

West Virginia (2-2) will host Valparaiso (2-2) at 2 p.m. Saturday.

The effort Huggins was looking for came out in Knapper’s two attempts in drawing a charge.

The first was a collision with Jared Bynum, a call that didn’t go Knapper’s way, even though the force of the blow took him to the ground with enough momentum that he nearly did a headstand on the floor.

The second one was a little more memorable: He drew a charge on Saint Joseph’s leading scorer Charlie Brown with 8:07 remaining in the game. It was Brown’s fifth personal foul.

“I knew he had four fouls and we wanted to get him out of there,” Knapper said of the play. “I just saw an opportunity to step in there and try to take another charge. It helped the team.”

It’s possible Knapper, who was redshirted as a true freshman with a torn ACL before missing part of summer workouts this season with a blood clot, may help the Mountaineers, too, at point guard.

“I thought the second half, Brandon played really hard,” Huggins said. “He took better care of the ball.”

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