USA Today Sports

Juwan Staten sat out Sunday’s practice to rest his sprained ankle, according to coach Bob Huggins. His readiness—and West Virginia’s urgency to keep playing—will be crucial to Tuesday night’s NIT opener at Georgetown.


WASHINGTON, D.C. — The motivation meter has been in full motion during the 24 hours since West Virginia and Georgetown learned of their NIT encounter.

Who wants this game more? Which team embraces the springboard effect and which team is effectually bored with playing in a B-side tournament?

On the who’s-happier-to-be-here scale, West Virginia looks like the winner. After being picked seventh in the Big 12 preseason poll—back when there stood a chance players named Macon and Holton might play—WVU finished sixth even without those guys. Add in the frequently-bemoaned fact that its roster is completely devoid of seniors, and WVU, theoretically, stands to gain plenty from an NIT experience.

The Hoyas, meanwhile, were picked second in the gerrymandered Big East but swooned to seventh place, capped by the even grander indignity of a first-day shelling in the league tournament by DePaul. What’s more, Georgetown features four seniors among its top eight regulars, seniors who planned on finishing their careers in the NCAAs.

Of course, such generalizations don’t always fit the team. Some are better equipped for bouncing back even when conventional wisdom points otherwise.

“You’re upset, mad, frustrated—that whole gamut of emotions. That’s the bus ride home,” coach John Thompson III said of the Hoyas’ embarrassing ouster from Madison Square Garden last week. “Then you get re-energized when you realize, ‘Okay, we’re still going to be able to play.'”

And playing against an old conference rival, which enriches the storyline a bit. At least it does on the Georgetown side, where some veterans actually remember facing and losing to West Virginia in 2011 and 2012. The lone Mountaineer with any hand-to-Hoya combat is junior Kevin Noreen, who played 11 scoreless minutes in a 74-62 win in Morgantown on Jan. 7, 2012.

That’s precious little experience guarding JT3’s Princeton-style offense, and Bob Huggins has precious few hours to teach his new players the ways to disrupt it. The quick-turn nature of the NIT gave the teams only one full practice and a game day walk-through to prepare.

“There’s not enough time” for detailed opponent preparation, said Huggins. “When we used to play them in the league we had two or three days to prepare.”

He called the 48-hour window from pairings to playing “less than ideal,” but that’s the NIT in a nutshell. Teams who put aside those circumstances and embrace the chance to keep improving are the ones who tend to keep playing.

Tipoff: Tuesday, 7 p.m. in Washington, D.C. at McDonough Arena (ESPN) … Why is the 2,500-seat campus arena is hosting a men’s game for the first time since December 2009? Because the Ringling Bros. circus is setting up for a Thursday opening at the Verizon Center. The venue figures to be packed by Georgetown donors given dibs on the limited tickets and students granted free admission to fill whatever seats remain.WVU received 150 tickets for the school’s traveling party.
Records: Georgetown (17-14) crushed Kansas State by 27 points in Puerto Rico, knocked off Michigan State at MSG and also beat Creighton, VCU, Providence and Xavier—all of whom made the NCAA field. The negatives were upset losses to Northeastern (RPI 213), a sweep at the hands of Seton Hall (RPI 124) and the first loss to DePaul in 20 years. … West Virginia (17-15) went 6-12 against NCAA qualifiers, highlights by upsets one Kansas, Iowa State, Oklahoma and Baylor. The worst loss RPI-wise came in November at No. 239 Virginia Tech, which won only nine games.
Coach: John Thompson III stands 226-103 in 10 years at Georgetown after going 68-42 in four seasons leading Princeton.
Georgetown’s top players:The dangerous guard tandem of senior Markel Starks (17 points per game) and sophomore D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera (16.9 points) has combined for 312 3-point shots and 314 free-throw tries. The only other player who average double figures was 6-10 UCLA transfer Joshua Smith, who played only 13 games before being ruled academically ineligible for spring semester. … Smith’s troubles meant more minutes for 6-9 junior Mikael Hopkins (6.2 points, 5.1 rebounds, 1.5 blocks) and rugged senior Nate Lubick (5.1 points, 5.5 rebounds). But Huggins said the Hoyas still get in the paint via back cuts. “They’re still going to get it at the rim by back-cutting, they run good side ball-screens and middle ball-screens.”
WVU roster notes: Despite spraining his ankle during the loss to Texas in the Big 12 quarterfinals, Juwan Staten (18 points, 5.8 assists, 5.8 rebounds) vowed he’d be ready to play in WVU’s next game. Huggins was noncommittal Monday about the status of his All-Big 12 point guard. “He didn’t go (Sunday) at practice,” Huggins said. “There’s no swelling, but other than that I don’t know.” … Eron Harris scored a season-low three points in the 66-49 loss to the Longhorns, quite a dropoff from his 28-point game in the regular-season finale against Kansas. … Remi Dibo is averaging 4.7 points in WVU’s last four games on 6-of-22 shooting and hasn’t gotten to the foul line once. … Devin Williams’ stark of three double-doubles ended with a thud in Kansas City , where he managed oily two points and three boards in 28 minutes against Texas.
Line: Georgetown favored by 3 1/2
Pick: Georgetown 71-64
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  • Woodchuck

    WVU women are the #2 seed in the NCAA tournament.

  • GobblyGook

    Yawn. One and done again. Again, no NCAA tourney for Huggins. The new normal in Morganhole.

    • Alter E. Go

      U r Morgan & I hear guys like u'r hole.

  • Capt. Obvious

    We can win if winning requires no defense being played.

  • ole sasquatch

    All I know is that I would be going over that Depaul film to see what happened.
    Huggin's knows the defense that stops this Princeton offense. Are the players smart enough to learn it in a minimal amount of time? Also how healthy will Staten be? Knowing the speed of Georgetown's defenses it may not be a Staten type of game anyway. The key is our defense.

  • Bill Wagner

    I believe that West Virginia can win this game and I hope they do. I am anxious to see how they respond to playing a team outside the conference. Yes they let a few games get away from them early on due to freshman maturing but that quickly had to go away once conference play and better teams were the norm. Now those freshman are sophomores now so show what you can do and get a win so you have a chance to play at home if Florida State loses! Go Mountaineers.

  • Huggiebear

    William & Big Larry,
    I get the impression that some people here don't like you . Whay is that?

  • Big Larry

    One and done...Accept it and move on....

    This would be considered a negative comment and will be deleted however a prediction of Georgetown winning 71-64 is not considered a negative comment.

    • squad

      what? based on what other than a guess...?? please, get a job or something

  • TruthTeller

    WOW! Georgetown is favored in this game?
    Typical I mean after all WVU has never even played against anyone this year so naturally Georgetown would be favored of coarse.
    Will the snobs ever stop being snobs?
    I guess not it has been this way forever.
    I say WVU beats Georgetown tonight.
    Haters will be crying in their beers!!!

  • Dave

    Don't know one thing about Georgetown this year. Haven't seen one game. But I do know that I can't wait to see the Mountaineers kick that Hoya ass.


  • jay zoom

    all you cry babies about where the game is played (WAKE - UP) the game is played in D.C. because Georgetown is a higher seed. better for WVU to get embarrassed before 2500 than 6 or 7 thousand. the only thing WVU will be hungry for is their next meal. THANKS OLLIE one and done

    • squad

      thanks for your loyal support, ass

  • David Kennedy

    150 tickets.... LOL
    Just make sure our new Mountaineer is on the sidelines...
    A little acupuncture and Staten should be good to go..
    I'm good with this game and think WVU can win it all.
    Thanks for a great season, guys.
    Some incredible games and exhibitions of showmanship.
    Hope Adrian and Williams are on target for this one.

    • wvrefugee

      Yep. I would like to know WHO gets those 150 tickets???? I can guess some of the drinking buddies where I sit in the Coliseum but not that many.

  • william

    How bad does it need to get for "Sweatsuit Huggins" to be FIRED?
    He has been a BIG FAILURE at WVU.

    • Aaron

      How so?

      Reasonable details based on logic if you don't mind.

    • Nobama

      William "I live in my pajamas" Loser
      You are big failure and your mother lets you stay in her basement.

  • Alex

    Looks like WVU has to make some 3s at the start of the game , when they do that, it will open up the middle for Staten to drive in. It's just that simple. West Virginia win. One and move on.

  • John

    Nothing would be better than to beat G'town in their gym and hear their fans rail against the refs again. WVU deserved better than #5 seed in NIT. And again, what sense does it make to play in a gym that holds 2500 vs. the Coliseum that even on a bad night would bring in twice as many people?

  • Big Larry

    "One and Done"

    • Alter E. Go

      That's what u'r wife said about u.

    • Troll

      Yes and if only you, William and a few others on here could be one and done it would be a great forum.

      • squad

        amen...can I get a witness??? post of the year!!!

      • GoEers


    • Kathy Jeffords

      Easy, Lar......