WVU returns to Dome to face Orange
Published: Sunday, February 13, 2011
Updated: Sunday, February 13, 2011 22:02
The last time the West Virginia men's basketball team traveled to the Carrier Dome, it walked away with some of the greatest memories in team history.
Last March, the Mountaineers defeated Kentucky 73-66 to advance to the Final Four in the 2010 NCAA Tournament.
This time, however, WVU will be traveling to the Carrier Dome for a Big East Conference matchup against No. 12 Syracuse.
Despite the memories made there, the Mountaineers want only one thing – another conference victory.
"It is a good court with a good environment," said point guard Truck Bryant. "We are going to bring our ‘A' game and hopefully walk away victorious."
In order to do so, WVU will take on the Orange's notorious 2-3 zone, which has helped Syracuse hold opponents to a 39.3 shooting percentage that ranks second in the league.
"The thing you can't simulate is Syracuse's length," Huggins said. "I have Mike Carey's son, Craig, doing a hell of a job for us, but he is not (Syracuse forward) Ricky Jackson."
The most important part of the Mountaineers' game plan will be finding and making open shots, which is something that they have struggled to do all season long.
"We just don't do a good job of getting ourselves easy baskets," said head coach Bob Huggins.
The key to getting those open shots against the 2-3 zone will be having a play that can work in the middle of the Orange's defense.
"If you have guy in the middle that can pass the ball and knock down shots, that is big," said guard Dalton Pepper. "It will open up everything, because he can dish it down low or kick it out to the corner."
Bryant agreed that attacking the middle of the zone will be crucial.
"I'm not saying the zone's not tough, but it is not that bad," Bryant said. "We have to get in the middle of the zone. If we get in the middle of the zone, we will do good for ourselves."
One player that may fill that pivotal role is power forward Deniz Kilicli.
"It is all about wide-open shots," Kilicli said. "What happens now, when I get the ball inside, they start to collapse in, and I just dish the ball out."
Kilicli said that breaking the zone will be important, but WVU must continue to play its stout brand of defensive basketball, as well.
"We have to guard them," Kilicli said. "Even if we are not making shots, we can win games by defending."