With just nine scholarship players eligible for head coach Bob Huggins, West Virginia is forced to play a number of inexperienced guys. Two true freshmen start while another freshman and a transfer come off the bench.
Because of lack of depth and such young talent on display, WVU is certainly leaning on anything to give itself an edge.
Two players who bring an edge are third-year guard Gary Browne and first-year forward Remi Dibo.
Browne, a native of Puerto Rico and Dibo, a native of France, both have international experience to draw from.
Browne, who averaged just 5.8 points per game in the 2012 season, said he needed to improve during the offseason.
“I worked, I’m not going to say I didn’t work, but I didn’t work as hard as I could have worked,” Browne said about last season.
During the offseason and summer, Browne suited up for the Puerto Rican National team and learned from his head coach Flor Melendez and fellow countrymen how to raise his effort.
“Going to the national team and watching all these pros and playing with them, they made me realize that if you want to make it somewhere you have to work your tail off,” Browne said.
Browne started at guard for Puerto Rico while playing against teams like Germany, Spain and more in China during the summer.
“On the National Team I was playing point guard and starting, I basically played every game, the coaches basically relied on me a lot so that gave me confidence. That was the first step that made me want to work harder,” Browne said. “When I played in China I came back with a different mentality.”
As for Dibo, he played at the international level at just 16 years old.
Dibo brings a different style to the team as a bigger body that can step out and shoot threes. Against Virginia Tech, the Frenchman dropped 17 points to lead WVU.
Dibo said he draws from his experience overseas to thrive under Huggins.
“I played against Greece, Spain, Italy and those guys are just warriors,” Dibo said. “They just want to get out and play. The Greeks were tough. The most experience I take from that is that anyone can play hard basketball.”
The effort and enthusiasm, similar to what Browne brought back from his time in China, is what Dibo said he wants to bring game in and game out.
“I’m enthusiastic to play basketball. I love to just play this game and want to be competitive out there,” Dibo said. “All those games that I’ve played, I played with effort and toughness, now I’m trying to do that out here.”
Dibo said he is beginning to understand how skills he learned internationally fit into Huggins’ offense. He said he knows as long as he listens to his head coach, his skills will have a chance to be shown.
“I’ve got (more) freedom than I think,” Dibo said. “If I get my mind right, move the ball and set my teammates by giving them the opportunity to score, then I’ll get my chance to score.”
Dibo is WVU’s fourth-leading scorer, averaging 9.8 points per game, and two 3-pointers per game, while Browne is averaging 8.1 points per game.
Dibo, Browne and the Mountaineers take on Marshall at the Charleston Civic Center Saturday evening at 7:30.