MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Devin Williams didn’t let a 1-of-3 shooting night against Division II Fairmont State hurt his confidence in the post.
“I know there’s not a player in the country that can guard me one-on-one down there,” Williams said in advance of Friday night’s season opener against Mount Saint Mary’s.
Bob Huggins raised an eyebrow at that comment, though he admitted West Virginia needs to feed the 6-9 freshman more than it did during the exhibition.
“We’ve got to throw him the ball more than what we did,” Huggins said. “I think we only threw it to him twice in the post.”
Williams, a four-star recruit out of Cincinnati via Montverde, Fla., found other ways to touch the ball: by grabbing a slew of rebounds.
“They said I had 14, but I counted 15,” said Williams, who feels he’s has a 20- or 30-rebound game within his grasp. We’ll see if that happens tonight at the WVU Coliseum, where tipoff is slated for 8 p.m.
SCOUTING MOUNT SAINT MARY’S
Coach: 31-year-old Jamion Christian—only 701 victories behind Bob Huggins—was part of Shaka Smart’s staff at VCU in 2012 when the Rams won 29 games and reached the NCAA round of 32. He’s also an alum of The Mount, where he was a three-year captain.
Last season: Mount Saint Mary’s finished 18-14, winning nine straight games to race into NCAA tournament contention before losing to LIU-Brooklyn in the Northeast Conference championship game.
This season: The mid-major Mountaineers are picked sixth in their league’s preseason poll, while WVU was tabbed seventh in the Big 12.
Style points: Christian calls his full-court pressing style “Mayhem,” though we’ll see if the hand-checking crackdown tempers some of that aggressiveness. MSM likes to hoist 3-pointers—it set school records, in fact, last season, for 3s attempted (811) and made (274). West Virginia clearly seems to be transitioning into a perimeter team as well, given the limited frontline players, so tonight’s game might be decided from long-distance.
Top players: George Mason transfer Rashad Whack, who led MSM with 13.9 points last season, is an active 6-foot-3 senior who scored 26 to bounce Robert Morris from the conference tourney. (That was two weeks before Robert Morris ambushed Kentucky in the NIT.) … Sam Prescott (11.1) and Julian Norfleet (10.8) complete the veteran guard trio.
Like a lot of small-league teams, Mount Saint Mary’s inside game can be exploited: 6-10 Croatian senior Kristikjan Krajina averaged only 3.5 rebounds, and 7-footer Taylor Danaher (at a slight 215 pounds) shouldn’t give much resistance for Devin Williams.
WVU roster notes: Terry Henderson (shin inflammation) remained in a walking boot early Friday, making his status for tonight questionable. Remi Dibo’s court time could be limited also after playing only the final two minutes of Monday’s exhibition game in a return from knee surgery.
Line: West Virginia favored by 11.5
Prediction: WVU 75-65