MORGANTOWN, W. Va. — Erik Stevenson knows his West Virginia team isn’t yet playing to its full potential.
The Mountaineers were far from perfect in their exhibition win over Bowling Green, giving up 19 turnovers and shooting 37.1 percent from the field. They won the rebounding battle by an 18-board margin, but even that didn’t satisfy the fifth-year transfer guard.
“It’s no disrespect to Bowling Green, but we’re West Virginia, man. We should be rebounding the ball every play,” Stevenson said. “There shouldn’t be any second chances, no putbacks, nothing like that. We should clean up the glass.”
Stevenson was credited with 10 rebounds in the game, which, if it wasn’t an exhibition, would be his career-high. While the ball-handling guard gives effort on the glass, he hasn’t found himself in that position a lot during his time in college hoops.
He expects to find himself in that sort of situation throughout this season, however, and he is excited about it. WVU’s system under Bob Huggins likes to utilize versatile players in unorthodox ways, for example, using a shooter like Stevenson in the high post.
Even if it works, Stevenson admits “it’s not gonna be pretty.” Then again, he adds that WVU basketball isn’t known for its beauty.
“I’m a little bit crazy, man. I watch basketball 24/7, I watch straight hoops, and this program has never been pretty,” Stevenson said.
Stevenson was 10 years old when Huggins’s Mountaineers squared off against the vaunted Kentucky Wildcats in the NCAA Tournament, but he is familiar with that game. That victory might be one of the crown jewels of WVU hoops history, but it wasn’t a clean win — making it even more of a perfect West Virginia win.
“That game wasn’t pretty, Kentucky just sucked. They sucked in that game, it wasn’t pretty at all. They were missing shots like we were missing shots [against Bowling Green], but they were just guarding.”
Games like that, Stevenson says, are how WVU will rack up its wins 13 years later.
“Trust me, there’s going to be nights where we’re on fire, we’re making shots, and it’ll get ugly for the opponent, and it’ll be pretty in your eyes,” Stevenson said.