MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — For fans attending Friday night’s Gold-Blue Debut scrimmage hoping to glean some intel on West Virginia’s upcoming basketball season, coach Bob Huggins offered a preview.

“We’re going to be more perimeter-oriented,” he said. “We’re probably going to be more like we were the first few years rather than after we got Deniz (Kilicli) and some of those inside guys.”

Huggins’ remarks hardly served as a spoiler, considering 6-foot-9 power forward Elijah Macon essentially has been ruled out for this season and 6-7 rebounding force Jonathan Holton could be facing a redshirt year as he deals with eligibility issues.

What’s left is a team heavy on guards, such as West Virgina’s top four returning scorers: Eron Harris (9.8 points), Terry Henderson (8.0), Juwan Staten (7.6) and Gary Browne (5.6). In addition, two 6-9 newcomers who are eligible—junior college signee Réme Dibo and Morgantown High graduate Nathan Adrian—are noted jumpshooters.

“I think the bulk of our scoring is going to come from the perimeter, whether it’s perimeter guys shooting shots out there or interior guys shooting shots out there,” Huggins said. “That’s what we’re good at.”

Not that WVU’s lineup will be built exclusively on outside gunners. Fans will want to pay attention to chiseled freshman forward Devin Williams. Another 6-9 newcomer, Brandon Watkins, is the nephew of former WVU great Warren Baker, and Huggins said Holton will play in the scrimmage despite the lingering eligibility questions.

Then there’s “Sweat”—aka Kevin Noreen, a 6-10 scrapper on the glass who sets screens like a left tackle.

The 40-minute scrimmage tips off at 7:30 p.m. at the WVU Coliseum. Afterward, fans can meet players on the court for an autograph session.

In lieu of a midnight madness-style event replete with dunking exhibitions and 3-point contests, Huggins said the scrimmage provides more benefits for fans and the team.

“We need to scrimmage,” he said. “With all those new guys, we’ve been doing so much teaching that we haven’t had an opportunity to run up and down (the floor).”

BROWNE AIMS TO REBOUND
Combo guard Gary Browne, one of six juniors on a roster that contains no seniors, seeks a bounce-back campaign after shooting just 32 percent overall and 20 percent from 3-point range last season. Even more troubling was his 48-to-42 assist-to-turnover ratio as WVU finished with a 13-19 record.

“I was kind of upset, kind of frustrated,” Browne said. “It was a personal thing, because I felt like I wasn’t helping my team like I know I can.”

A summer stint with the Puerto Rican national team helped reinvigorate the 6-1 Browne, who feels most comfortable at the point but can shift to shooting guard when he shares the backcourt with Staten.

“This whole summer, this whole year, is like a rebuilding year for me,” he said. “I’ve got a different mentality.”

YO, ADRIAN
Through three weeks of preseason practice, Huggins has lauded Adrian’s shot-making ability. But the lanky hometown kid wants the coach to notice his defense also.

“Defensively I’ve gotten better. He might not think it, but I have,” Adrian joked.

As is customary for freshmen, Adrian has been banished a few times to the dreaded treadmill, Huggins’ in-practice punishment for players who foul up.

“He expects a lot from us defensively,” Adrian said. “Coming from my high school, we didn’t focus that much on defense, so coming in here it’s a big change.”

WALK-ON WATCH
Shady Spring High graduate Chase Connor, who led West Virginia Class AAA in scoring at 27 points per game last season, is among the four walk-ons (all guards) who could see action Friday night.

The others are junior Ty Hughes and sophomores James Long and Richard Romeo.

One invited walk-on no longer with the Mountaineers is 6-foot-4 guard Brett Morris of Webster County, who  averaged 25.9 points, 9.4 rebounds and 4.8 assists as a high school senior for one of the state’s top Class AA squads.

He played with WVU’s contingent in the Pittsburgh pro-am summer league, but shortly after enrolling in Morgantown, Morris transferred to Division II Glenville State, where he’s one of 10 newcomers on the roster under coach Stephen Dye.

 

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Comments

  • Shawn

    And Murray was the problem who created problems within the system. Staten had to plead for his spot back. He was right there with Murray up until Huggs started cutting ppl. He changed his tune and is a different person now.

  • Shawn

    Barry,

    I know you didnt bring up Gerun (haha), Miles (haha) and Hinds (pffft). Gerun was a bust and i'll admit that one. Miles had an attitude problem that nobody got to see. And Hinds had his opportunity but would throw the ball under the rim every chance he got. The kid couldn't play D and he knew he was going to start after last year. They all saw the writing on the wall and wanted to play somewhere else.

    • Barry

      It is funny how many players never get better under this coach, but it is never Huggins fault, of coarse.

      • Shawn

        Butler, Flowers, Jones, ect all got better under Huggs. He turned John Flowers into a straight baller his last year. The kid couldn't even shoot the ball and was dropping threes like he had been doing it his how life. I don't care who recruited them, Huggs made them better.

        • Barry

          Maybe their previous coach should get some credit?

          • Shawn

            He deserves credit. Did great things while at WVU. I never said he didn't deserve any credit.

  • Shawn

    "I can't actually explain to you what happened last year, but it was just not there," junior guard Gary Browne said. "We loved each other on the court, but I'd probably say everyone wanted to put their egos into it.

    "Right now, we actually enjoy practicing and competing against one another, and after that, we're all tired, but we try to hang out together. I feel like it's helping and why we're getting along real well on the court."

    Browne, Henderson, Staten, junior Kevin Noreen and sophomore Eron Harris - made sure old and new spent a lot of time together over the summer and then once the fall semester started late in August.

    "Not a coincidence," Noreen said.

    "The group of guys we have were closer this summer than in years passed, especially last year," Noreen said. "It helps to get a bond like that going into a year and to have chemistry already developed before you go into practice. You learn to rely on these guys before they're tested in pressure situations."

    "I'll use Devin as an example," Noreen said of the 6-foot-9, 255-pound forward. "I know I'm beginning to be able to rely on him more because he had been coming in underweight, which is something we aren't allowed to do here. I told him taking care of his body and eating right means you have to make sacrifices to get those meals in.

    "He's able to do that now, so I see that and I think, 'OK, here's a guy I can rely on down the road.'"

    "I just feel like we're more of a team this year," Henderson said, "than we were before."

    I know this is a lot of information on here but I wanted everyone to see where this team is mentally. And does anybody recall this type of bonding last year? Did you read articles with these types of quotes in it? I know I didnt. It was all about what "I" can do, what "i'm" good at, ect.

    Lets Go EERS!!!

    • Barry

      They better rely and look out for each other because when the F-bombs start flying and players start getting thrown under the bus they are going to need it.

      • Shawn

        Ask Nate Adrian how he feels about Huggs. He said Huggs loves everyone of them on and off the court. I mean you actually think Huggs sits there and says "I wonder who i'll throw under the bus this game" Come on man he calls it like he sees it. If you're not performing then he calls you out. It was never an issue with ppl until last season. And if you think 98 percent of the coaches don't drop F-bombs then you haven't been paying close attention. Coach K from Duke is one of the worst.

        • Barry

          I don't care who else does it. It is a disgrace and totally unacceptable. I haven't liked the way Huggin's has acted since Dalton Pepper was here. I actually can't stand the man. You should never throw the players under the bus. He should own the failures of this team. They are his failures. He makes the money. He should take the blame. That is poor character no matter how you slice it.

          • Shawn

            If you don't like him then turn off the tv/radio every game. You shouldn't put yourself through such misery.

            Huggs did take responsibility for it but when you start getting disrespected then it changes things a little.

            Deniz put it all out there at the end of the season. He was there and understood what happened.

            Its bad when the kids who are doing the right things just want the season to end so the house cleaning can begin.

          • Barry

            If I didn't love this state so much then I would quit watching. Not an option. I can't wait until he leaves though. I want a coach that represents this state with honor, not the disgrace that we have now.

  • Shawn

    Larry I agree with you in that 13-19 is not acceptable by any means. That is why he cleaned house because he was tired of kids not practicing or taking WVU traditions seriously.

    Huggs needs to continue to recruit and get some kids in who can execute under his system.

    As far as the attire is concerned, I could care less what the man wears as long as he's winning. I mean he was wearing that stuff during the final four run and nobody said a word because he was winning.

    I mean when i'm coaching soccer, basketball or baseball I don't go out there in my 3 piece.

    I mean some dress pants and a button up shirt would be nice at times but its not a deal breaker for me.

    I'm just hoping WVU can put it together and enjoy playing basketball again. They used to and it showed.

  • wes2003

    Murray was a cancer. His departure is addition by subtraction. The Final Four team did not have a dominate post player. They had a bunch of guys in the 6-4 to 6-9 range that could defend, rebound, actually move on offense.

    The motion offense Huggins runs doesn't flow as well with a big man that can't move or be a threat to shoot. This team probably won't win 20, but they will win more than they lose.

    • Shawn

      I agree with you on everything but the 20 wins. I feel like they will hit that mark this year. I hope so anyways.

  • Alex

    Enjoy your post Shawn, good to see someone on here knows what's going on around the programs...Thanks

  • JB

    Every team has some shooters. WV has lacked a BIG TIME SCORER for some time. A forward on guard swingman who can dump 25 to 30 a night on you and change a game. When we start recruiting SCORERS then we can compete. You can teach a kid to play defense, but the art of scoring is hard to teach.

  • Shawn

    The B12 plays with 6'8/6'9 guys who can shoot and run the floor. If you watched any of the summer ball (which i'm sure you have no clue about), they run the floor. If you're only going to follow them during the season then you really don't know much about them. Gotta stick with them all year.

    • Barry

      Whatever dude. I am not buying what you're selling. There are alot of teams in the Big 12 with many players over 6'8"/6'9" (Kansas, Baylor). I will say it again, we do not have the depth or height to compete.

      • Shawn

        I'm not asking you to buy anything. I really could care less if you agree or disagree. I'm just stating that the Big12 teams have kids who can run the floor and score on the perimeter. Huggs began after last year to find kids who fit into the Big12 system. Its hard to find kids who are 6'10 to 7'0 or 7'1 to run the floor like that. His goal is to stretch the floor and make teams come out to guard them. That's what we did during our final four run.

        Kansas has 2 kids over 6'9. They are both FR. Baylor has 2 as well. A FR and a SO.

        • Barry

          "His goal is to stretch the floor and make teams come out to guard them. That's what we did during our final four run."
          Are you kidding me. This was Beilein's system, never Huggins. Huggins is all about effort, defense and rebounding.
          Please don't act like loosing most of the players that he recruited was ever Huggin's plan. This roster is not a result of any plan but a result of most of the team quiting last year.

          • Shawn

            The only thing I saw him take from Beilein was the 1-3-1. And Mazzula taught him that. Heck if my players were good at something and I had the personal to run the 1-3-1 I would adopt it too. Its called smart coaching. And the plan is never to lose players but when they are messing up your team chemistry then you either discipline them (which he did) or get rid of them (which he did). The team (Noreen, Henderson, Deniz, & Harris) didnt quit. They continued to play. Browne admits to quitting and has taken full responsibility for it. You can only take so much as a young kid before it takes a large mental toll on you.

          • Barry

            What about Hinds, Gerun and Miles? They weren't a problem. And, the only reason they could "stretch" the floor is because Beilein could actually recruit shooters and good kids, unlike Bob Huggins. The last few years have been a train wreck.

  • Shawn

    Most Experienced Players

    Eron Harris - 6'3
    Terry Henderson - 6'4
    Kevin Noreen - 6'10
    Juwan Staten 6'1
    Gary Browne 6'1

    Undersized Newcomers

    Adrian - 6'9
    Remi Dibo - 6'7
    Holton (if he plays) 6'7
    Watkins 6'9
    Williams 6'9

    The crazy thing about these undersized kids....they can shoot! And they can rebound. We didn't neither last year.

    • Barry

      Like I said, the experienced players are undersized, and how do you know that the newcomers can shoot and rebound? Who have they played?

      • Shawn

        Either you can shoot or you cant. The only difference is the ability to get open and create shots. We couldn't do either last year. I know they can shoot because I've been following them since they came to Morgantown. Like I said earlier, try following them for the whole year instead of 2 weeks before the season or until you get tired of watching.

        • Barry

          Forgive me if I am skeptical but I have heard this all before. Before last year I believed the hype. Not this time. And by the way I have missed maybe five WVU basketball game in the last five years and that includes last years disgrace.

          • Shawn

            I didn't say you missed games. I just said you follow the team 2 weeks before the season and then during the season. Then you complain all season long about their performance (just like everybody else did). Was I happy with the result? No I wasn't and I voiced my opinions about the team.

            The difference with me is I followed them all the way up to the start of the season and I knew they couldn't shoot that well. I knew they would struggle but I never thought they would only win 13 games. If you couldn't see that Murray was going to bring the team down then you were blind.

            All i'm saying is pay attention to them all year. You'll know a lot more come game one if you do.

          • Barry

            I love how Murray has become the whole problem now that he is gone (scapegoat) and not the coach who ran most of the team off.

  • Shawn

    They go 20-11 this year.

    • Shawn

      That's not counting the B12 tourney

      • Big Larry

        Shawn,

        WVU won 13 game last season (13-19).

        What is the difference maker this year that will enable them to win 7 more games over last year?

        • MickandAllysDad

          Hopefully team chemistry will be found!

          • Shawn

            That's one thing I left out in my rant! Team chemistry just wasn't there last year. Murray was a big reason for that. If you listen to Nate Adrian talk about this team you'll see that they play and learn well together. He also said that it might not show on TV, but Huggs loves every one of those kids.

        • Shawn

          First Aaric Murray hurt the team badly. Not only did he not produce, he pulled down Staten and others with him. He constantly went against Huggs and didn't respect the school and state he played for. To me thats a slap in our faces. I'm glad he's gone.

          You'll see a much improved Staten and Gary Browne this year.

          If WVU will got a few bounces in their favor last year they are sitting around 18-14. Not a great year really but a winning season with post season aspirations.

          This years team is a lot younger but they are already better in regards to maturity and overall talent. They will shoot better and will play with more heart which leads to better D and getting a few bounces in our favor.

          If you watched any interviews of these kids this summer, all they talked about was winning for the school and state. This is coming from kids who are from France, Indiana, NC, Ohio, Minnesota, and GA. Not to mention some homegrown boys.

          This team is spending hours in the gym trying to get better. They didn't do that last year. Huggs builds his teams around tradition and heart. It wins games. Ask Beilein when he was here. Ask Huggs about his final four team. They'll both say their kids played with heart and played for the fans! That's the key and that's why they win 20 games this year.

          If WVU fans would embrace the heart and tradition, it would help the team as well!

          • Barry

            Shawn, that is a fanciful post to say the least. We did not beat one team with a winning record last year. We are undersized and undermanned. There is no way this team can compete. Huggins teams have not been able to shoot the basketball for years and now we are to believe this year will be different? 4 of our 5 most experienced players are 6' 3" or less. We cannot match up.

          • Barry

            By the way... abusive husbands love their wives too. That doesn't stop them from smacking their wife in the mouth if the mashed potatoes are too lumpy.

          • Big Larry

            Shawn,

            You & I have had our differences in the past as you well know...But I still love ya man.

            And you have given some wonder insights to the program...

            ...believe me when I tell you this...I hope you are right in your analysis. I would love to see the winning tradition return to WVU Basketball.

            But if Huggins comes out wearing those stupid sweatshirts, and we see no team improvement or direction in the program...I am going to be all over Huggins like a pair of cactus britches...I might anyway.

            Going 13-19 just doesn't cut it in my book. If WVU wants to continue to pay him $10,000.00 a day to produce mediocrity...then so be it...but I don't have to like it!

  • Justin

    oh man we're gonna suck. gonna be a long season

  • Big Larry

    The only thing that will be entertaining this year will be the sideline antics of Bob Huggins wearing his Penn State colored (BLUE & WHITE) Swearsuit....I mean Sweatsuit...my bad.

    Huggins teams in the past have never been known for shooting the basketball but rather tough physical defense...

    Now we have to rely on shooters?

    Are the three new recruits and walk-ons going to come in and save the day?

    No of coarse not...It is what it is.

    • grey beard

      If you live with anyone I bet they wish you were dead.

  • Hop'sHip

    I like the idea of having a player named Reme Dibo. We may still lose but at least we will do it with a continental flair.

  • MickandAllysDad

    My take on Huggin's philosophies on winning basketball is you play defense and out rebound the other team. I will be on the edge of my seat to see who steps up this year.

  • Tim C

    We better be able to shoot from outside, cause we sure as heck don't have an inside presence. You let Williams go down or get in foul trouble and we have no one inside. Noreen hustles and plays hard but he can't jump over a dime. Unless he has finally learned how to block out his rebounding will be spotty.