Noreen scores 14, sets tone in WVU victory
Published: Monday, December 10, 2012
Updated: Monday, December 10, 2012 00:12
The West Virginia men’s basketball team remained undefeated at home this season after dropping interstate rival Virginia Tech 68-67 Saturday in the Hokies’ first loss of the season.
Three players reached double figures for the Mountaineers, but the game ball undoubtedly went to sophomore forward Kevin Noreen.
Noreen recorded the first double-double of his collegiate career with 14 points and a game-high 12 rebounds, both careerbests, in 33 minutes off the bench – another career high. Seven of Noreen’s 12 boards were offensive rebounds.
The sophomore also tallied two blocks, an assist and just a single turnover.
"This is probably my best game in my college career," Noreen said.
Noreen was six of 10 from the floor and was also two for three from behind the arc; he had never made a three-point field goal in college play before
Saturday’s game. In fact, his only attempt came against Tennessee Tech Dec. 19.
Despite the fact Noreen’s now only taken four total three-point shots in his collegiate career, he made a living behind the arc in his high school days at Minnesota Transitions Charter School in Minneapolis.
"Not a lot of people know this, but I actually have the third-most makes for threes in Minnesota history," Noreen said. "That was how I played in high school; that’s all I did was shoot threes. It’s in my pedigree. So just to bring it back today – it felt really good."
West Virginia head coach Bob Huggins said he’s hopeful Saturday’s success could perpetuate Noreen’s confidence in shooting the ball heading forward.
"I just hope this is something for Kev that he’ll feel a lot more comfortable stepping into shots now, because he’s going to get shots," Huggins said. "He’s had open shots, I think, in every game that we’ve played; he’s just got to be more comfortable stepping into them and making them."
Huggins also pointed out Noreen is a prime example of a blue-collar basketball player.
"I think if there are kids out there that want to be a basketball player, he’s a great a role model," Huggins said of Noreen. "He doesn’t play above the rim; he can’t rebound above the rim and he’s got to shoot 1,000 shots a day.
"I don’t know that I’ve ever had anybody put more time in than what Kevin Noreen puts in. Other guys were physically more talented than what he is, but he just puts in an incredible amount of time. Then he’s in the office after class and before classes looking at film.
"And he listens. If we had some other guys who listened and were as committed as what he is, they’d be very, very good players."
Noreen’s teammates said they’ve always known the quiet sophomore is both a talented shooter and an extremely hard worker, and they were ultimately happy, but not surprised, with Noreen’s career day Saturday against the Hokies.
"He’s so soft-spoken, and he doesn’t really say much. He just goes out there, competes and plays hard every day," said sophomore guard Juwan Staten. "We know he’ll do anything for the team, but the biggest thing we’re on him about is shooting the ball. He’s a great shooter, and he’s open a lot, but he always hesitates.
"So for him to come out and shoot the ball tonight and make some big shots, we are all proud of him, because that’s what we’ve been telling him to do since Day one."
So was Noreen’s production on Saturday the sophomore’s way of finally satisfying his coaches and teammates, who have been constantly clamoring for him to take more shots?
"I don’t know, it was just one of those days," Noreen said. "Coach was just saying we needed this win. This was supposed to be our springboard into the rest of the season. This was a make-or-break game for us, and I must have taken that intrinsically, and it just translated out on the court.
"I don’t want to be a liability out there. If they have to cover me a little more it opens up some lanes for the other guys. Me being able to make that shot is big."