Through the first ten games of West Virginia’s season, Sophomore Forward Emmitt Matthews, Jr. was the most consistent, best player for the Mountaineers. He could penetrate, create his own shots and was one of the team’s most accurate three point shooters. Averaging 10.6 points through the first ten games, Matthews appeared to be on his way to being West Virginia’s breakout star on an extraordinarily talented team this season.
Emmitt Matthews, Jr.disappeared. He was in the game physically, but he really wasn’t there. His minutes remained the same and yet, his production completely and utterly vanished.
In the year 2020, West Virginia has played four games – at Kansas, at Oklahoma State, at home against Texas Tech and most recently against TCU in Morgantown. In those four games, Matthews has scored five points while shooting 2-15 from the field and 0-6 from three point range.
To refer to his struggles as merely a “slump” is an understatement. Matthews’ last four games has been a complete collapse in confidence. What makes this even more astonishing is just how talented Matthews is. His length, athleticism and ability makes scoring 5 points in 77 minutes over a span of four games almost impossible.
Emmitt Matthews, Jr. will no doubt return to his old form soon and will go on to have an outstanding career with the Mountaineers, but this needs to happen sooner rather than later. As mentioned by several commentators of West Virginia games this season, Matthews is really the key to the success of the team later in the year and in the NCAA Tournament.
To get him back on track, more penetration and isolation plays are needed. Matthews is one of the most talented scorers on the team and should be put in position to create plays for himself. At 6’8 and extremely bouncy, Matthews can beat almost any small forward defender in the Big 12 and plays being created to isolate him on individual defenders would be incredibly effective.
Although Matthews is a gifted three point shooter, he can’t settle for that shot every time. Rather, penetrating to the basket early and getting easy shots up (and getting to the foul line) would instantly improve his confidence and get him back on the right track.
West Virginia needs Emmitt Matthews, Jr. to be Emmitt Matthews, Jr. through the very tough upcoming Big 12 Conference schedule and into March.