Notwithstanding the struggles that Bob Huggins and the rest of the West Virginia men’s basketball team faced in last season’s 15-21 overall finish, things are looking up for the Mountaineers.
As the team prepares to officially begin the 2019-20 season, the Mountaineers are in a much different place than they were nearly eight months ago when Coastal Carolina put an end to their season in the second round of the CBI.
With Huggins at the helm for his 13th season with the team, West Virginia returns seven players from last season including three seniors: guards Jermaine Haley and Chase Harler, as well as forward Logan Routt.
Of those returning to the WVU Coliseum this winter, Derek Culver may have the highest expectations to live up to. The sophomore forward was listed as an honorable mention to the preseason All-Big 12 team after averaging 11.5 points and 10 rebounds per game.
In addition to the returnees, the Mountaineers added six new players to the roster.
Oscar Tshiebwe, a McDonald’s All-American forward, is perhaps the biggest name amongst the group of newbies. Tshiebwe is expected to step in and fill the hole left by Sagaba Konate, who departed for the NBA following his junior season.
Outside of Tshiebwe, the other first-year players include guards Miles McBride and Spencer Macke, as well as forward Jalen Bridges, who Huggins expects to redshirt.
The Mountaineers also gained three transfer players, including forward Taz Sherman (Collin College) and guard Sean McNeil (Sinclair Community College). It is not known yet whether the third transfer player, Gabe Osabuohien (Arkansas), will be eligible to compete this season due to NCAA transfer rules.
This year’s team will attempt to work their way through a strong non-conference schedule before Big 12 Conference play begins on Jan. 4.
West Virginia will face their first true road game on Nov. 15 when they take on Pittsburgh in this season’s installment of the Backyard Brawl. The Mountaineers will travel to Mexico for a two-game stint in the Cancun Challenge from Nov. 26-27, before participating in other neutral site games in New York City (Dec. 7 vs. St. John’s) and Cleveland (Dec. 29 vs. Ohio State).
The Mountaineers’ first game, however, will come on Friday night when Akron pays a visit to the WVU Coliseum. Led by third-year head coach John Groce, the Zips finished with a 17-16 overall record.
Friday’s season-opening matchup will tip off at 7 p.m. and will be broadcast on AT&T SportsNet.