MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – When Josh Eilert took over as interim head coach of the WVU men’s basketball team, his first task was to salvage a roster that was depleting by the day.
Now that the dust has settled around the Mountaineers’ roster, Eilert is more focused on the X’s and O’s of the game, and revamping the offensive scheme was priority No. 1.
“Offensively, we’ve kind of just scrapped everything and kind of started over,” he said. “So, everybody’s starting [with] zero foundation of what we’re doing, [and] nobody’s ahead in the ball game.”
So far, the new-look offense is the brainchild of Eilert and his new assistant and WVU legend Da’Sean Butler. Under Bob Huggins, the WVU offense was built on motion principles that were altered year-to-year based on personnel. The new and overhauled Mountaineer offense will emphasize the exploitation of space in the half court.
“We’ve done a lot of things with our spacing and keeping corners filled and keeping the ball in the right hands,” Eilert said.
Just like any offense, everything starts in the backcourt with the point guard. This year, that will be Arizona transfer Kerr Kriisa’s responsibility. In three years in Tucson, Kriisa averaged 9.4 points and 4.7 assists per game for the Wildcats. Eilert has applauded his “pass-first” mentality to the position at various points this offseason.
“We’re trying to play as fast as we can [and] really push the ball,” Eilert said. “Get the playmakers involved, and keep Kerr in a decision-making mode because he’s a pass-first guy, and he’s going to get everybody involved, so that’s exciting. That’s exciting to me.”
The Mountaineers started their official preseason schedule Monday, and with the rapid roster turnover from the summer, Eilert and co. are pleased to focus on building a foundation with a group of players that are still fairly new to each other.
“We’re really getting there,” Eilert said. “Each and every day we’re making progress, and now that I’ve got a little more time to work with them every day, and I can slow things down with myself and the assistants, I think we’re going to get there.”
WVU’s first game-like action – a charity exhibition against George Mason in Morgantown – is exactly one month away from Wednesday, so the team has plenty of time to nail down principles on both sides of the court. By Oct. 27, the hope is that WVU’s defense-to-offense transition becomes second nature to its players.
“We’ve put in a lot of sets so far, now we’re looking at trying to put in some continuity so they can flow out of the sets and into the continuity,” Eilert said. “Like I said, it’s not the prettiest thing right now, but hopefully in a month’s time it will be a well-oiled machine.”