Newspaper article Charleston Gazette Mail

YO, ADRIAN! ; `A Heck of a Player'; Morgantown Native Nathan Adrian Pacing No. 7 West Virginia in Hard-to-See Ways

Newspaper article Charleston Gazette Mail

YO, ADRIAN! ; `A Heck of a Player'; Morgantown Native Nathan Adrian Pacing No. 7 West Virginia in Hard-to-See Ways

Article excerpt

OKLAHOMA AT NO. 7 WVU When: 7 p.m., Wednesday TV: ESPN2 Radio in Charleston: 100.9-FM WMXE

MORGANTOWN - On Monday, when the new polls came out and the media placed West Virginia at No. 7 and the coaches put the Mountaineers at No. 8, the most valuable player on one of the best teams in the country could find his name in the top 10 of just four Big 12 stat categories. Nathan Adrian was No. 2 in offensive rebounds per game, No. 6 in assist-turnover ratio, No. 9 in free-throw percentage and No. 10 in rebounding. Adrian is the muscle in all of WVU's strong points and even its weakest - witness his two free throws after an offensive rebound with 37 seconds to go Saturday.

The Mountaineers are No. 3 nationally in assist-turnover ratio and No. 5 in offensive rebounds per game. They're No. 303 in free- throw percentage, but Adrian is there with point guard Jevon Carter as the best WVU can offer.

Last week, after his team lost in its first game as the No. 1- ranked team in the country, Baylor coach Scott Drew said Adrian played "like an All-American with 22 points, six rebounds, two assists and three steals.

Adrian's coach was just as impressed.

"I think he's a heck of a player, said Bob Huggins, who has been ranked for 27 straight weeks in the media poll and 47 straight weeks in the coaches poll and has been in the media's top 10 for 28 weeks with the Mountaineers. "If he's not one of the best players in this league, I don't want to see the guys better than him.

The way the senior shapes a game and stimulates his teammates isn't easy to see.

Opponents praise his understanding of how teams try to beat the press and the way he uses that knowledge to cause trouble, but he's only fifth on the team in steals per game. He's often asked to defend the opponent's best post player, but he's blocked just three shots. Huggins admires Adrian's footwork, but Adrian isn't beating too many of his teammates in a footrace.

"He's a senior, Drew said. "He has a good motor and he keeps coming. I think his understanding of angles and making sure he's keeping guys in traps is very good. Again, when you're a senior, you're a little more vested in knowing what your coach wants. …

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