Five reasons WVU will be better in 2012
Published: Tuesday, November 13, 2012
Updated: Tuesday, November 13, 2012 01:11
It won’t take long for you to realize this is a much different WVU men’s basketball team this season.
Guys such as Kevin Jones and Truck Bryant, who have been the face of the program during the last few seasons, have graduated, leaving behind redshirt sophomore Kevin Noreen and senior Deniz Kilicli as the only two names on the roster who have been around for longer than a single season.
But don’t let the uncertainty or lack of familiar faces lead you to believe this season’s squad will be less talented than 2011’s.
No, I’m not saying this team has a Final Four-caliber roster, but I do believe the 2012-13 Mountaineers will be better than the 19-14 team that lost its first game in the NCAA tournament a year ago.
Here are five reasons why:
Disclaimer: This column was written before WVU took on No. 19 Gonzaga late last night and do not judge the Mountaineers’ season off its performance against the very, very talented Bulldogs.
1) WVU has a true point guard
I’m not taking shots at Truck Bryant or what he was able to accomplish in his four years as a Mountaineer. However, Bryant was more of a scorer than a distributor. I’ve always been a fan of a point guard who makes sure the offense is set up and run effectively, doesn’t turn the ball over and makes the right pass to the right players at the right time.
Dayton transfer Juwan Staten appears to be exactly that. He recorded six assists and zero turnovers in WVU’s exhibition win against Glenville State and has potential to be one of the better point guards in the Big 12 Conference.
With 10 players on the roster who have logged legitimate playing time at the Division I level, this is one of the deepest teams Bob Huggins has had while in Morgantown. There’s no reason to think this team can’t play 10-12 guys game in and game out. And with how hard Huggins demands his teams play, this could definitely work to West Virginia’s advantage.
From point guard Juwan Staten to center Aaric Murray and many in between, this is the most athletic team I’ve seen in Morgantown in quite some time. Even freshmen Eron Harris and Terry Henderson have shown some bounce. And again, with the style of play Huggins likes to exhibit, this is just another team quality that can work in the Mountaineers’ favor.
Not to be confused with the depth at the Mountaineers’ disposal, this team is also experienced. Granted, there are only three players on the entire roster who aren’t listed as a freshman or sophomore. But compared to last season, this team is more experienced. I can’t tell you how many times coach Huggins would sit at the podium a year ago and talk about how it was if no one on the team knew where to go or what to do when on the court.
Transfer Aaric Murray (6’10") and a much fitter Deniz Kilicli (6’10") will set the tone for a large front court. A healthy Kevin Noreen (6’10"), Ukraine native Volodymyr Gerun (6’10") and a more experienced Dominique Rutledge (6’8") will provide size off the bench. Remember, though, Gerun must sit out the first six games because of NCAA regulations.