MORGANTOWN, W. Va. — If there were any doubts in Bob Huggins’ mind on lifting the redshirt off freshman Trey Doomes, they were silenced rather quickly in practice Thursday.
“He made a play that I haven’t seen anyone make since, like, Casey Mitchell,” Huggins said. “He had a dunk over Derek Culver that was big time. We don’t have anybody else who can do that.”
And with that opens up yet another chapter to this West Virginia men’s basketball season that has already seen eight different starting lineups in 15 games, as well as the inclusion of freshman forward Derek Culver thrown into the rotation after missing the first 10 games of the season.
“We insert Trey Doomes and maybe he gives us that spark, because it’s not like we’re getting drilled,” Huggins said. “We’re losing close games. Maybe he gives us that spark we need. It’s worth a try.”
Huggins said he was up for any kind of suggestions at this point. West Virginia (8-7, 0-3 Big 12) is the lone winless team in conference play in the Big 12, as it prepares to face Oklahoma State (7-8, 1-2), which is 4-2 all-time inside the WVU Coliseum.
Tip-off is scheduled for noon.
Huggins said Doomes will not start, but the freshman from Acworth, Ga. will not have to wait that long to make his debut.
“He probably won’t get in until the first two minutes, or so,” Huggins joked. “I’ll probably be pissed off by then.”
What Doomes will give the Mountaineers is a boost in athleticism.
“He’s our best athlete by far,” Huggins said. “It’s not even close.”
The reason why the Mountaineers looked to redshirt Doomes was more about his shooting mechanics and the fact WVU appeared to have a logjam of guards heading into the season.
Huggins didn’t want to waste a season of eligibility on Doomes to let him play two or three minutes per game.
But, after a season’s worth of injuries to Beetle Bolden — Huggins said Bolden was banged up in Wednesday’s loss to Kansas State, but has practiced and will play today against the Cowboys — and fellow freshmen Brandon Knapper and Jordan McCabe have had their own struggles defensively and with turnovers, the timing was right to add Doomes to the mix.
“He’s athletic enough to do whatever he really wants to do,” Huggins continued. “He rebounds it. He straight-line drives it. We do not have a guy who can straight-line drive it. We don’t have one in the program, which is my fault. That’s 100 percent my fault. I thought some other guys could do it, but they can’t.”
How much of an impact Doomes can make still remains to be seen, but Huggins was realistic and acknowledged that it’s going to take more than one player or one win to turn the season around.
“I can remember we didn’t have 20 points at halftime one time against Villanova,” Huggins said. “I went in at halftime and said, ‘We couldn’t play any worse. We could only go up from here.’ We went out and won that game.
“If I go in and tell these guys they couldn’t play any worse, they would probably try to prove me wrong.”
Defensive adjustments will likely need to be made on Oklahoma State shooters Lindy Waters III (11.9 ppg) and Thomas Dziagwa (10.7 ppg), who have already combined for 77 3-pointers and both are shooting better than 43 percent from 3-point range.
“They really shoot it,” Huggins said. “They probably have the two best shooters in the league and maybe the country. I mean, they really shoot it. They spread you out.”
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