Men’s Basketball Exhibition Recap and Season Preview, Part I


The WVU Men’s Basketball team defeated Glenville State 95 – 53 in an exhibition game at the Coliseum Tuesday night. If you read my review of the Gold and Blue Debut, you know that I was pretty high on this year’s team. This performance did nothing to change my opinion.

Jan 28, 2012; Syracuse, NY, USA; West Virginia Mountaineers head coach Bob Huggins talks with guard Jabarie Hinds (4) during the second half of the game against the Syracuse Orange at the Carrier Dome. Mandatory Credit: Richard Mackson-US PRESSWIRE

This team looks a lot different from last year. There are a lot of new faces, but don’t take that to mean we are inexperienced- a lot of the new guys are transfers and have been on the court before. Overall, this team is more athletic and has more size and depth than last year’s team. There are certainly things that need to be worked on, but there’s one thing I see a lot of: potential.

Right now, we look like an unfinished product, which is to be expected this early in the season. We have a solid out of conference schedule lined up, which may lead to some tough losses early but it’ll really get the Mountaineers into good shape for conference play. I look for this team to improve each and every game and be a force in the Big 12.  I’ll be highly surprised if we don’t make the NCAA tournament, and wouldn’t be surprised at all to see us finish in the top 3 of the conference.

If you saw Huggins’s post game comments, he wasn’t real happy with the effort level and with the offense. I don’t think he’s ever happy with the effort level though. From my perspective, I saw much more good than bad in the exhibition game…

Things I liked:

  • We applied full court pressure all game. Huggins finally has the depth to do this without wearing out his players.
  • We can go big or go small. With the athletes Huggins has, we can play 3 forwards or 3 guards at any given time to take advantage of matchups.
  • We played well in transition and seemed to have a good sense of when to push it and when to pull it back.
  • We fought hard on the glass most of the game, and we have multiple guys that can grab rebounds and get put backs on the offensive boards.
  • We weren’t standing around on offense much- guys were moving around the floor and trying to get open.
  • Our point guards didn’t try to drive the lane through 3 players that are a foot taller every third time down the court. First game in 4 years that has happened.
  • We have 12 players who look like they could make significant contributions this year.

Things I didn’t like:

  • We didn’t consistently run the offense. At times, we just seemed to pass and dribble around with no real plan in mind.
  • We played haphazardly at times- made some risky passes and drives that weren’t completely under control, particularly in the second half.
  • We didn’t shoot very well, especially from beyond the arc.
  • We were inconsistent on defense and had some missed assignments that led to easy baskets.
  • Players need to give more consistent efforts.  No taking plays off.  I noticed it a little in the second half, but Huggins was fired up about it after the game.

Looking ahead, I think those items in the “Things I didn’t like” section are all things that you would expect to see in an exhibition game.  We’ll work on those and get better with time and experience.   We have solid players; they’ll learn to play how Huggs wants them to play.  I’m excited by all of the good things I see and all of the potential that this team has, not just this year but over the next 2-3 years as well.

Thoughts on the season:

  • We have a lot of depth this year. There are a lot of good options when Huggins looks at the bench, so players getting tired or in foul trouble shouldn’t hurt us like it did last year.
  • Losing Kevin Jones definitely hurts, but I think the offense, at times, became too fixated on getting him the ball last year. This year, I think the offense will flow better because there will be multiple options to score on every possession, allowing the offense to flow naturally to the player with the best look.
  • Our transition game looks to be a lot better than last year.
  • It looks like outside shooting might continue to be a problem going forward, but we should have a very good inside game to make up for it.
  • I see a lot of potential for the defense to play physical and be physically draining on the opposition. We have athletic players that can sub in and out so they stay fresh while pressing. I think this will keep us in a lot of games when we aren’t shooting well.
  • Quite simply, this team is much better than last year’s team and is very underrated.  Don’t be surprised if we struggle early, but we’ll get better as the year goes on

Check back later this week for my breakdown of individual players.