West Virginia basketball: ‘Press Virginia’ cutting down on fouls
While Bob Huggins celebrated his 800th victory with a 112-67 win Saturday at the WVU Coliseum, it was not a day to remember for Missouri-Kansas City backup guard Dashawn King.
The senior played all of five minutes and committed five fouls during that time.
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"We've focused on not fouling a lot more and we're sliding our feet better," WVU forward Nathan Adrian said.
Of all the stats that WVU's "Press" Virginia style of play has helped produce — WVU leads the nation in turnovers forced and steals, while also being ranked in the top five nationally in both scoring offense and defense this season — none may be more eye-popping than fouls.
Or in the case of the Mountaineers, not committing them.
"I think it is our emphasis," Huggins said. "We are trying to emphasize it more."
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While Huggins' unrelenting and chaotic full-court pressing system has always caused a high number of turnovers, it also brought with it a high number of fouls.
WVU committed the most fouls in the nation during the 2014-15 season (821), while nine different players fouled out a combined 23 times.
Last season, WVU was ranked No. 345 (of 346) teams in fouls committed, while six different players fouled out a combined 18 times.
As the Mountaineers prepare to host Radford (4-6), at 7 p.m. Tuesday, they will do so as a team ranked 111th in the nation in fouls committed (185), and no WVU player has fouled out of a game this season.
"We're getting in front of people more instead of reaching out and fouling like we used to," Adrian said. "We used to run beside guys too much, instead of getting in front of them."
Or, as WVU forward Esa Ahmad out it, the Mountaineers made some slight adjustments to how they work on the press in practice.
"I feel like it was more uncontrolled effort last year. We were just running around everywhere," he said. "We've made it a big point of emphasis to try not to foul while we're pressing this year."
There is another factor, too — the referees have had two seasons of officiating WVU's press and are seeing things maybe a little differently than they did two seasons ago.
"I'd like to have a seminar with the officials," Huggins said.
The NCAA has made a point of emphasis to its officials that an offensive player has a make-believe cylinder around him that can not be violated by a defender, which is meant to cut down on hand-checking and holding.
Huggins has always maintained — especially when a team full-court presses — that an offensive player shouldn't be permitted to reach out of his cylinder, meaning they can't push and shove their way out of traps.
"If we are going to have a cylinder, it has to work both ways," Huggins said. "If we can't reach into the cylinder, then they shouldn't be able to reach out the cylinder. That's my biggest pet peeve of the year."
After a recent game, an official went up to Huggins and admitted to seeing what Huggins had been stressing.
"I saw him afterward and the guy said, 'You were right.' " Huggins said. "I'm like, 'Really?'"
This article is written by Justin Jackson from The Dominion Post, Morgantown, W.Va. and was legally licensed via the Tribune Content Agency through the NewsCred publisher network.