Sometimes you have to slow things down in order to speed things up.
That is certainly the case when it came to the development on the offensive end of sophomore guard Chase Harler. The in-state native played sparingly in his first season with the program with only 95 minutes spread out across the schedule on the floor and struggling to find his shooting stroke.
Harler made only eight of the 28 shots he attempted and was 4-13 from three-point range, at times struggling to adjust playing almost a reckless, frenetic defensive pace on one end and then coming to the offensive side and slowing things down.
“When you play the way we play it takes a while,” head coach Bob Huggins said.
If it sounds difficult, it’s because it is.
“We just play so fast on defense, you kind of forget to slow down,” Harler chimed in.
Things didn’t start out on the right foot for Harler this season either, hitting only three of his first nine shots from the floor and missing each of his three attempts from beyond the arc.
That wasn’t the case Monday however, as Harler put together his best effort as a Mountaineer reaching double figures for the first time with 14 points and connecting on four of his six attempts from three.
Well, Harler has Huggins to thank for at least some of that.
That’s because it was Huggins that noticed the placement of Harler’s thumb underneath the basketball creating an awkward rotation on the ball making it difficult to make shots.
“It makes it almost impossible to get it over the rim,” Huggins said.
Harler made a conscious effort to catch the ball and get his thumb on the side of the basketball in order to give his attempts more of a chance. A minor fix, but a major difference in results.
“I didn’t have to fix too much. When I shoot my ball would spin weird. A lot of form shooting, footwork to prepare for the shot. It took a lot, I’m still working on it,” Harler said.
The Moundsville native struggled with confidence a year ago in large part because he never knew when he was going to get into the game.
Couple that with the adjustment of trying to slow down his offensive game and not rush into shots because of trying to pick up pace on the other end and it’s easy to see how it would be difficult to find consistency on the floor.
The shooting struggles is something he has rarely dealt with prior to arriving in Morgantown but even on those off-days at Wheeling Central he could get up enough looks to work through it. This was different.
This took work and a lot of time in the gym as Huggins says. But he needed to see those results in a game in order to get the appropriate spike for his confidence level. He found that success Monday and sometimes it really is as simple as seeing some of them go through the basket.
“I needed a good game to get my confidence up,” he said
Now, Harler is a year older and believes he is better prepared to give Huggins minutes off the bench. The head coach seemingly agreed.
“If Chase starts making shots then he is going to get a whole lot of time and be really, really good for us,” Huggins said. “He plays so hard and he knows what he’s doing. He doesn’t make glaring mistakes.”
Harler understands his role is to give maximum effort and find spots in the zone to hit shots. If he does that, it makes the West Virginia offense that much better.
“It opens up a lot for everybody on the floor. We can spread it and they can’t help as much so everybody that drives the lanes will have more of an opening for that,” Harler said.