Week in Review
WVU wrapped up the nonconference portion of the schedule (aside from a matchup with Purdue in a few weeks) with a 74 – 67 win over Eastern Kentucky last Saturday. This game was a tale of two halves. At times, it looked like the Mountaineers would run away with the game, running the lead up to as many as 16 with a minute left in the first half before falling behind by 2 points with 4 minutes to go in the game. In the first half, WVU shot 46% from the field and a tough guarding Mountaineer defense held EKU to 28% from the field, including 30% from beyond the arc. However, in the second half our defense faltered and gave EKU opened shots, which they hit and hit often, going 63% from the field and 50% from beyond the arc (WVU was only 33% and 0% shooting in the second half). Two players in particular killed us, Glenn Cosey who went 5-10 from 3 PT and finished up with 21 points, and Mike DiNunno, who finished with only 10 points but had 4 assists and made numerous other plays that led to baskets.
The Mountaineers were led by guards Gary Browne and Juwan Staten (17 points each), Aaric Murray (8 points, 12 rebounds), and a surprise performance from Deniz Kilicli (10 points, 5 rebounds). The most important performance might have come from Dominique Rutledge though, who contributed 7 points, including a crucial 5-6 from the free throw line down the stretch. Jarbarie Hinds struggled once again, scoring only 1 point in 19 minutes.
The Mountaineers are their own worst enemy right now. When they are focused and playing hard, the defense is incredible and creates a lot of easy buckets for the offense. However, we haven’t been able to play a full 40 minutes yet, and it kills us. Players taking one or two plays off gives momentum to the other team and lets them back into the game (or lets them run up their own lead). That’s the biggest thing this team has to do going forward- maintain that intensity all game long. I still think we can be a really good team, we’re so close right now.
Heading into conference play, the rotation seems to have shaken out. Staten and Browne are going to get a majority of the minutes at guard, with Hinds, Terry Henderson, and Eron Harris also getting some minutes. Inside, It looks like Aaric Murray will be a fixture, with Kilicli, Rutledge, and Keaton Miles seeing some minutes as well. I thought Rutledge and Kilicli in particular saw their stocks surge in this past game as both put in strong performances. It seems like Aaron Brown, Vlodymyr Gerun, Kevin Noreen, and Matt Humphrey are the odd men out at this point.
Player of the Week: Gary Browne: 17 points, 6 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 steals in 30 minutes.
This one was tough to pick- as Staten, Rutledge, and Murray also had performances crucial to the game, but Gary Browne’s defense, which doesn’t really show up in the stats, wins the award for him. He’s worked this season on maintaining his hounding defense but keeping hands off of other players to stay out of foul trouble, and it’s worked. He’s seeing a lot of minutes and still is a great defender. And add in 17 points to the great defense, and you have this week’s player of the week.
Coming Up Next Week:
- Saturday 1/5 vs. Oklahoma
- Wednesday 1/9 @ Texas
As the calendar flips to 2013, we begin Big 12 conference play. A lot is being made of the fact that we will be seeing all of these teams for the first time and visiting unfamiliar cities, the same is true for those teams as well. I agree with Coach Huggins in his postgame comments- let’s just go out and win. Doesn’t matter who we are playing. Hopefully we can do just that.
Our Big 12 debut will be in the Coliseum against an Oklahoma squad that we’ve already seen, and lost to, this season. Oklahoma (9-3) defeated us 77-70 during the Thanksgiving tournament we played in, but we’ve grown up a lot since then. In that game, 6-9 forward Amath M’Baye got the best of us, scoring 19 points and going 9-13 from the field. The key to this game will be controlling him inside and contesting every shot from the outside. The Coliseum should be rocking on Saturday, and I think that’ll tip the scale in our favor in this game.
We make our first road basketball trip in the Big 12 on Wednesday as we travel to Austin to take on Texas. The Longhorns are 8-5 and have a victory over UNC under the belt. On the surface, this looks like a good matchup for us. They don’t score much (averaging 64 points per game) nor do they shoot well (40% on the season). They can rebound though (40.6 rebounds per game). The inside game seems to be the key here. If our bigs can beat their bigs, we should get the win. Hopefully the basketball team’s road trip to Austin goes as well as the football team’s did. Sure wish I was heading back there with Huggins and the boys!