MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Big 12 co-favorites Kansas and Oklahoma State were ranked No. 5 and No. 8 respectively in the AP preseason basketball poll unveiled Thursday afternoon.

In what is projected to be a down year for the league, Baylor begins the season at No. 25, but no other Big 12 team received votes.

West Virginia, hoping to rebound from a 13-19 record, will face at least one nonconference opponent ranked in the preseason poll, No. 15 Gonzaga. A matchup against No. 20 Wisconsin also could materialize in the championship game of the Cancun Challenge.

DWINDLING ROSTER
The timetable for Remi Dibo’s return from knee surgery makes him probable for the Nov. 8 season opener against Mount St. Mary’s. But the junior college transfer is unlikely to appear in Monday night’s preseason game against Division II Fairmont State.

“I wouldn’t think he’d play the exhibition, but I would think he’d be ready to go by the first game,” WVU coach Bob Huggins said.

Even with a healthy Dibo, the Mountaineers would have only nine scholarship players, fallout from power forwards Elijah Macon and Jonathan Holton facing eligibility issues that could sideline them all season. Yet Huggins said the thin roster isn’t necessarily a harbinger of catastrophe.

“We were pretty good in 2010-2011 and we had like eight guys,” he said.

YEAR 2 REVENGE
West Virginia, readying for its second season in the Big 12, wants to avenge last year’s 6-12 conference showing that resulted in an eighth-place finish.

“Just some revenge games,” said forward Kevin Noreen. “We feel like we gave away one at Iowa State last year, so we want that one back. And we got handled pretty well at Baylor, so we want that one back when we go down there.

“We want to play at maximum effort, give 40 minutes and not just 32. We’re not going to stop short this year.”

Sophomore guard Eron Harris—saying he’s energized “to play all these teams that beat us”—sounded enthused for the Mountaineers’ follow-up trip through the conference.

“We’ve got guys who are getting a lot of hype, like Andrew Wiggins, and I just can’t wait to play those guys,” he said.

FRESHMEN PROGRESS
With Macon and Holton sidelined, West Virginia figures to need bigger minutes from freshman signees Devin Williams, Nate Adrian and Brandon Watkins.

“Probably Brandon has come further, but Brandon had further to come,” Huggins said of the slender 6-foot-9 forward from Decatur, Ga. “Devin, being at Montverde (Academy), played a national schedule and played a lot more games. And Nate picks things up pretty fast.

“They’ve got a lot to learn, particularly at the defensive end, about continuing to play, because they’re just used to resting on defense (in high school). It’s just the way it is.”

The muscle-bound 6-9 Williams arrived with a college-ready physique, though he needed time to improve his conditioning.

“Devin’s come a long way since the summer,” Noreen said. “I remember his first day here we went up and down a few times in open gym and he caught a bad cramp and couldn’t play the rest of the day. I think he’s past that now.”

While teammates noticed Williams impacting summer-league games in Pittsburgh and having beast-mode moments during the Gold-Blue scrimmage, apparently it’s the day-to-day practices where he needs to bring the same energy.

“Games are different, where you only have to go hard about for four minutes and you get a break,” Noreen said. “In practices, it’s going to be three hours and you have to learn to sustain it.”

Said Harris: “In practice sometimes I have to get on him about going hard or getting intense. He could really step his game up that much more if he did that. He’ll figure it out though. Dev is really going to do some good things.”

 

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Comments

  • topper

    I am very excited about this season , bet the Mountaineers finish in the top 3 of the big 12 this year , Bob Huggins is a great recruiter and a great coach , Bob seems to like this bunch , this bunch he can coach , in 2 years WVU will own the Big 12 , gotta have faith , 1 bad year and people turn so quickly , The Great state of West Virginia is lucky to have Bob Huggins representing us

  • squad

    I don't think there's any doubt Huggins is on the last few years of his tenure. we can get recruits, we will be better this year than last. i'd take a list of the names of who posts on here and see the general substance. there's some pretty un happy (devil-filled) folks on this site that spread their negativity and fear. i would like to see a place where people with such problems don't feel compelled to share them.

  • Matt

    Can't wait til they tip off. Haters keep hating!

  • wvu999

    I think Steve could be one of several people
    1 Huggs
    2. Huggs wife
    3. Billy Hahn
    4. Someone who hasn't watched or followed this program in a few years

  • Big Larry

    Just remember one important thing...

    When you sit down with your family and watch WVU play their first basketball game with their 8 man roster...

    Just remember...It is perfectly Okay to cry in front of your wife & kids....

  • Steve

    6 NCAA tournaments in 7 years including a sweet 16 and final four. Poor big fat stupid Larry...never got to see Marshall at on an NCAA tourney game since the Reagan administration

    • Big Larry

      "Mommy...why did God make Marshall University....? They make us lose all our football and basketball games. It is all their fault...I don't like them Mommy...

      Mommy...will you read me another story about when coach Huggins coached Devan Ebanks and Kenyon Martin....?

      Mommy...will WVU ever win another basketball game?

      Mommy...? Mommy...Wake up Mommy....

      • GoEers

        I figured that would be your response whenever someone posts the facts. You've just proven your low education as well as a lot of our beliefs that you still live at home with your mom and use your welfare checks to pay for internet service so that you can troll WVU articles and post your jealous hate filled comments.

        Go back to the Marshall boards. I know that they don't play for championships anymore, but they do Play For the Front since no one knows the names on the back!

  • Steve

    When was the last time Marshall played in an NCAA tournament? I pose that question because most of you posting are Marshall fans.

  • Doug

    It boils down to one thing and that is no 5 star recruit will come to WVU. You would think a trip to the Final Four in 09-10 and playing in the Big 12 would bring in smart and talented kids wanting to play. Huggins had a good one in Ebanks but failed to keep him. His luck (no pun intended) was recruiting players like Macon, Holden, and even Noah Cottrell and getting burned. He isn't washed up but certainly needs to push harder to bring in good players with good grades and more.

    • Shadow

      It's difficult to push a string and Morgantown is a tough sell to anyone with good talent when something better is offered. Who would want to come to Morgantown when they can go to a better place and is easier to get to and out of? Recruiting is like Real Estate. Location, Location, Location!

    • Steve

      He failed to keep Evans because he went to the nba. Are you trying to say that any coach that it's a player to the nba failed to keep them?

      Lol at you!

  • Michael

    Wvu fans need to calm down the program is fine and we will be ok! Bob is a great coach plain and simple ! We will win again

    • Steve

      These aren't mountaineer fans commenting. They are MU fans that are nothing but jealous trolls.

      They're sad and pathetic and aren't probably old enough to remember the last time MU played in an NCAA tourney.

      What a sad and pathetic basketball program MU has.

    • Big Larry

      How is it fine? Do you have inside information the rest of us don't know about?

  • Big Larry

    What is Huggins incentive to win? Oliver Luck took that away when he gave him his unconditional contract for life.

    He is going into the Hall of Fame, he has over 700 wins, he makes $10,000 dollars a day and all the barbecue he can eat... so why is he worried? He doesn't even have to win.

    They can never fire him. And all he has to do is show up at the games wearing his Penn State Sweatsuit and everything is fine.

    And to make matters worse.... you have to listen to him talk about Kenyon Martin at his Ho-Hum Press conferences...

    And the deaf, dumb and blind WVU fans sit around and say...

    "Isn't Bob Huggins Great...we are so lucky to have him...he's a hall of fame coach you know...and don't worry, Bob is going to fix everything...he is going to lead us all to the promise land...I just love ol Huggy bear.......Oh wait...I think we just lost another game...."

    Yes it is a SAD day to be a Mountaineer Basketball fan...

    No matter where you may be!

    • Steve

      Does all your hatred stem from the fact that your boyfriend William broke up with you? It's ok big Larry. Everything will be alright.

      We play for the front...lol

    • Steve

      It must be sad being a welfare loser troll like yourself

    • John

      P.s his incentive to win is that he cares about this program. Something Beilien and any other up and coming coach we could hire don't have in common with him.

      • Big Larry

        Oh Please...Any sap could win 13 games at WVU with the fans and facilities playing very poor teams.

    • John

      We had 1 bad year under Huggs. 1. It looks like this year could be another one, but Huggins can turn it around if he can stop the attrition. The sad part is 90% of our fans are smart enough to know we couldn't replace Huggs, but the 10% happens to be the internet load mouths.

  • wvrefugee

    Isn't that what your/our illustrious AD is doing also?????

  • pghmountaineer

    John, I can't disagree with your Bielein comments, but what I think some here are saying is that it's beginning to look like we're not capable of getting top tier athletes to the program coupled with qualifying issues in some cases.
    You have to admit, the fact that we have only 9 scholarship players is somewhat alarming for a D1 school in a power conference.

  • John

    Will you people please stop talking about Bielein. He was using this place as a stepping stone the moment he walked on campus. Yes, he had some great years here, but he's gone and never plans to return. He sued the school to try and ditch his buy out, but somehow you forget that! Its not like we CHOSE Huggs over him so why do our fans constantly compare the two like we had a choice in the matter?

    • Rick S.

      John is correct that John Beilein used WVU as a stepping stone -- just like Rich Rodriguez did, Oliver Luck is apparently doing, and Dana Holgorsen intended to do.

      Beilein is a very good coach and did wonderful things at WVU. I certainly wish that Beilein were still here, but as John said, he is gone and does not plan to return. So we have moved on.

      • Benjamin R.

        The fact of the matter is WVU is not Michigan, Alabama, Texas, USC, Ohio State, etc. and it never will be. The days of coaches sticking around for decades is over....

        Beilein played an exciting brand of basketball but I wasn't devastated to see him go like it seems like most of you were. He played a gimmick brand of basketball and I had no illusions that we were ever going to be serious contenders with Beilein. Bottom line, Huggins won a Big East Championship, the only one we had. He took WVU to a Final Four, the first since Jerry West. I'd much rather move forward with Huggins as the coach, even if he is a dickhead.

    • wvu999

      Because Beilein can coach. Huggs is a washed up has been.

  • don

    Belein is obviously twice the recruiter that huggins is. He not only got much better talent (they could even make foul shots) but they were also literate.

    • Benjamin R.

      Please don't get all high and mighty on me. Lets not pretend that we care if these kids graduate or not. We watch them play ball, not takes tests. As long as they make it to the tournament it doesn't matter to me if they can read. Get off your high horse donny boy, all we care about is wins.

      Ellis Lankster couldn't and probably still can't read. But I sure am glad he was able to shut down wide receivers on Saturdays for the Gold & Blue.

      Ebanks and Da'Sean and Truck and on and on and on were all here for one reason, to make it to the Pros. Huggins can put players in the NBA and that is a huge selling point for these guys....They sure didn't come to WVU for the academics.

  • John

    Good point, Bob! I do not recall all of this academic mess under Bielein (sp)