While the West Virginia University football team had a much needed bye week some of the WVU chatter started to involve West Virginia’s basketball team and its upcoming season. Of course the apparent demise of the once promising football season remained a very hot topic.
To that end, the Mountaineers will try to get back on track this Saturday against TCU in a 3 p.m. game televised nationally by Fox. WVU’s much-maligned defense may have received a bit of a break because the Horned Frogs may well have to play with their third string quarterback. The quarterback status was undetermined at press time, but the WVU defense isn’t the only concern these days.
The once potent Mountaineer offense has been missing in action for two successive games, so there will be that to keep an eye on as well. Despite the two humbling losses to Texas Tech and Kansas State the 5-2 Mountaineers can still finish the season strong and quarterback Geno Smith can reclaim his spot in the Heisman Trophy race.
On the basketball front, coach Bob Huggins’ team is flying a little under the radar. The Mountaineers were selected sixth of 10 teams by the Big 12 media. Huggins has openly questioned that position suggesting his team will be better than that. Statements like those aren’t the norm for the WVU coach, so that immediately piques the interest of the fans.
At the recent fan night festivities Huggins unveiled a fast paced up-tempo style of play that he has not used in his tenure at WVU. Reports from those in attendance were encouraging. Sure, all everything performer Kevin Jones, just cut from the Cleveland Cavaliers, will be hard to replace, but as many as five newcomers figure to change the look of the team.
Deniz Kilicli will be the returnee with the most experience. The big Turk has shown flashes of greatness in the past, but has struggled with consistency. He should find the going a little easier in his senior season, because he will have some help in the lineup that hasn’t been there with regularity. More size and better shooting should help Kilicli have more room inside to work the post.
Jabarie Hinds and Gary Browne played big roles as freshmen last year as each played the point and two guard positions. Dayton transfer Juwan Staten has created a buzz with his play at the point. It will be interesting to see how Huggins rotates these three.
Things are more interesting with the addition of freshmen Terry Henderson and Eron Harris. Both could play the two, or possibly the three, and Henderson is said to be a sharp shooter.
Keaton Miles and Aaron Brown gained experience last year at the three, but Boston College transfer Matt Humphrey has a year of eligibility left and reports are he will provide immediate help.
Up front 6-10 Kevin Noreen and 6-8 Dom Rutledge return with Kilicli. Noreen is hoping to enjoy an injury free campaign as his first two seasons have ended prematurely. Rutledge turned in some strong performances in the latter part of last season and could be ready to be a solid contributor.
Aaric Murray, a 6-10 transfer from LaSalle, is the most anticipated player on the roster. Said to have lottery pick potential, Murray should be the shot blocking force the Mountaineers lacked a year ago. Though Murray may be the most anticipated, reports so far are not as glowing as they are about Staten and Humphrey. Anyway, depth should be a strength if Huggins can find enough minutes for as many as 11 players that could make the rotation.
*Monday, West Virginia announced that Gerun, a native of Dnipropetrovsk, Ukraine, would be required to sit out the first six regular season games of the season.