WVU kicks off season against Oral Roberts
Published: Thursday, November 10, 2011
Updated: Friday, November 11, 2011 02:11
The last time the West Virginia men's basketball team lost its home opener was in 1997 when it fell to Virginia Tech.
The Mountaineers, who are coming off of a 77-74 exhibition loss to Division-II Northern Kentucky, will try to keep that date in mind when it hosts Oral Roberts at 9 p.m. in their season opener. It will be the first matchup between the two schools.
"It was a wake-up call, and I think we're all awake," said senior guard Truck Bryant. "I know we're going to play hard. Hopefully, we'll see a tremendous change."
The Golden Eagles will be no easy task, though, for West Virginia. They return all five of their starters, including four double-figure scorers.
"They're a team that not only can get into the NCAA tournament but get in there and win games," said WVU head coach Bob Huggins. "They have skilled guys – guys who can make shots. They have great overall size."
Dominique Morrison leads the way for Oral Roberts, averaging 19.5 points a year ago. Warren Niles and Damen Bell-Holter follow behind scoring 14.3 and 13.3 points, respectively.
"At the end of the day, we have to do what we have to do. We need to help each other and limit his touches," Bryant said about Morrison.
Steven Roundtree, who scored 12.1 points last season, was also named the Summit League Newcomer of the Year.
It's been a long week for the West Virginia freshmen since the loss last Friday to the Norse who have spent a considerable amount of time on the treadmill.
"We've been practicing really hard," said senior Deniz Kilicli, who will play tonight after sitting out the exhibition game due to a knee injury. "Every time they did something wrong, we put them on the treadmill. It helps because it gets the memory going."
Kilicli said he had the unique position of watching the entire exhibition game from the bench, but wasn't happy with what he saw.
"The problem is that they just got really confused and didn't run the sets right," he said. "(Kevin Jones) and Truck did whatever they could do, but it's a team sport. They need help from freshmen, but they haven't given that to us yet."
Freshman Keaton Miles, who said he could've played harder against NKU, admitted that the treadmill has helped the freshmen respond well this week.
"You have to pay attention. You don't want to end up on the treadmill," Miles said. "We just need to wake up and play. You can be on the treadmill or listen (to coach) and go harder. We don't want to go through that again."