Week in Review
The week started off great with a good home win over Virginia Tech. Man, it felt good to beat the Hokies again! VT came into the game undefeated with one of the best offenses in the country. Our defense turned in a great performance though and held them to 67 points. This was a close, exciting game throughout. WVU held the lead most of the second half before giving it up in the final minutes.
The Mountaineers still had trouble shooting the ball, going 35% overall, but we found some success beyond the arc, going 10-24 (42%). Our three point shooting and defense kept us in the game, which was won in the final seconds with a layup from guard Juwan Staten. Aaric Murray led the Mountaineers in scoring with 15 points and freshman Eron Harris contributed 10 points as well, but the player of the game was Kevin Noreen. Noreen played the best game of his career, scoring 14 points and grabbing 12 rebounds in 33 minutes of action. He was 6-10 from the field, including 2-3 from beyond the arc. His shots aren’t pretty but they were falling against the Hokies, and he was always in the right place at the right time. He got rebounds, made key shots, and played hard defense.. We got a glimpse of the kid that was once named Minnesota Mr. Basketball. It was a great win, our best of the season, and should have given us a lot of momentum.
Coming off our biggest win of the season and making the short trip to Pittsburgh to take on a weak Duquesne team, you would have expected a blowout victory. That was not to be though. Despite going up big early and taking a double digit lead into half time, we blew it all away in the second half with horrific shooting and defensive lapses. The fact is, it’s hard to win many games when you shoot 33% from the field, 22% from beyond the arc, and 62% from the charity stripe. Overall, it was another solid defensive performance (anytime you hold a team to 60 points you can’t complain), but we got out rebounded and out shot. Duquesne employed a very simple defense: pack the inside and dare us to shoot deep shots. It worked- we couldn’t penetrate the defense and had to take shots that we couldn’t make. There’s really no noteworthy performances to talk about from that game. We just looked like we didn’t want to be there. Hopefully the Duquesne game was just a fluke, as we had been improving every game before taking a big step back against the Dukes. I mentioned last week that I was worried about the Duquesne game being a trap game. Maybe it was. We were coming off of a big win and looking forward to a big game in New York, all the while being in the middle of finals. Hopefully we bounce back this weekend.
However, there is one deniable fact: we are going to struggle against anyone if we don’t start shooting better and taking better shots. We have to get the ball inside for layups more often and take smarter shots from outside. That’s what is holding this team back right now.
Player of the week: Kevin Noreen. 18 points, 19 rebounds. He was the most consistent player on the roster and was the reason we beat VT. He took over the game at times. Hopefully he stays healthy.
Coming up next week:
- Saturday 12/15 vs. #3 Michigan in Brooklyn
- Wednesday 12/19 vs Oakland in Morgantown
We have a pretty tall task ahead of us Saturday, when we face off vs former head coach John Beilein and the Michigan Wolverines for the first time ever. The game will take place in Brooklyn, NY. Michigan is currently ranked 3rd and is 9-0 with victories over #18 NC State, Pitt, and Kansas State, among others. Michigan is averaging 78 points per game and is shooting 51%. It’ll be interesting to see how Huggins’ defense defends Beilein’s offense. I think we definitely have a chance in this game- if you remember back to the Beilein era at WVU, his teams are susceptible to a bad shooting night, and it seems like they are due. If we want to have any chance though, we will need to shoot better and in particular, get the ball to our bigs inside early and often. That’s the key to the game.
We follow up the Michigan game with a home contest against 3-7 Oakland. Simply put, this shouldn’t be a game, but then again, Duquesne shouldn’t have either. Oakland can’t score and can’t shoot, so this could be the lowest scoring game ever. They are led by junior guard Travis Bader, who is averaging 20 points per game, and sophomore center Corey Pedros, who is averaging 14.6 points per game. Hopefully we show up for this game and don’t make it close…
- Volodymyr Gerun has been eligible to play the past two games, but still hasn’t seen the floor. Maybe Huggs is saving him to be a secret weapon against Michigan..