By Bob Hertzel
For the Times West Virginian
Considering the situation West Virginia University’s men's basketball team has put itself into early in the season, any victory is a good victory, and a two-game winning streak is better than finding a new iPhone under the tree on Christmas morning.
So what if the wins were struggles, each against a mid-major on the Mountaineers’ home court, the first being against Oakland and the second coming Saturday afternoon by a 72-62 score over a Radford team that fell to 5-7.
Considering that when West Virginia has played two nationally ranked teams this season – Gonzaga and Michigan – they were trampled by a combined 49 points, a win is a win is a win.
And, it seems, with each win WVU is improving slightly and finding out things about itself.
In this one, which lifted the Mountaineers to 6-5, the best lesson they learned was that the most effective defense they possess is a 1-3-1 zone trap.
It is a defense that has its shortcomings and probably shouldn’t be used as the base defense, although coach Bob Huggins noted that he used it for the entire game against Kentucky in an NCAA upset. However, it is best used at moments of necessity as it can change a game, as it
did in against Radford.
First of all, it is effective because the Mountaineers have three long, athletic players to use setting up the traps in Aaric Murray, Dominque Rutledge and Keaton Miles. They make life difficult for shorter guards who find themselves overwhelmed with the size.
“I like it,” Murray said of the 1-3-1. “It keeps you from using all your energy chasing your man all around. We have help, and that way we trust in each other. In my little area that I cover it’s hard for guys to see over me. They kind of float it when they pass and that gives someone a shot at it.”