MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — On the eve of what may be the gimpiest Senior Day in college basketball history, Juwan Staten’s knee appeared heavily wrapped beneath warmup pants at Friday’s practice. Gary Browne still showed a limp, six days removed from suffering a high ankle sprain, and Kevin Noreen discussed the spate of surgeries that rendered him a bystander for his entire final season.

Instead of West Virginia’s seniors running out on the blue carpet for Saturday’s pregame intros, coach Bob Huggins joked “they might be wheeled out there.”

Browne played less than 3 minutes on the recent two-game road trip, of which Staten sat out the entirety. While both are questionable for the sold-out season finale against Oklahoma State, at least they have their sights on returning for next week’s Big 12 tournament and the subsequent NCAA draw.

Noreen, however, realized months ago he wouldn’t be able to contribute as a fifth-year senior.

The 6-foot-10 forward played through hamstring and wrist injuries last season, not wanting to shut it down as West Virginia tried in vain to earn an NCAA bid. After an NIT loss to Georgetown, which wound up being Noreen’s final game, he underwent surgery for an avulsion fracture, suffered when the hamstring tendon separates from the bone, sometimes tearing bone fragments in the process.

Upon learning his July hamstring surgery carried a six-month rehab, Noreen put aside an offer to serve as th team’s graduate assistant in hopes of returning for Big 12 conference play in January. That goal was dashed in October, when he tore his labrum during a weightlifting session.

“Nothing exotic—just an overhead lift I had done many times before,” Noreen said. “But after one rep my arm didn’t respond properly at all, and I knew there was a problem.”

He also knew he wasn’t going to make it back into action, a disappointment because “I thought we were going to be good this year.” And West Virginia has been good—compiling a 22-8 record thanks to a pressing style that hardly suits Noreen’s game. Still, Huggins said Friday that Noreen “would have found a way” to help the team.

“I’ve had to change my game to acclimate to Huggs’ style ever since I came here, so I like to think I could have done it again this season,” Noreen said. “Just giving us another body inside would have been a boost at times.”

Noreen, who missed parts of his first two seasons with knee and ankle injuries, recalled the four previous Senior Day ceremonies he watched at WVU, moments he considered precious for reminiscing and honoring guys who led the team.

“Senior Day is something I always wanted to experience,” he said. “I saw how much it meant to those seniors in the past and how much they meant to the program.

“That’s the reason I came back this year, to have a Senior Day, to walk out there and show my appreciation for all the people who were there for me.”

After seven career operations—a school record Huggins joked “will be hard to top”—Noreen gets his moment Saturday.

Browne can relate to the emotion surrounding his final home game. When the guard was picked No. 7 in the Puerto Rico pro league draft last month, he choked up and declined to speak about it, “because it reminds me how little time I have left here.”

The last holdover from WVU’s seven-member 2011 recruiting class—a group decimated by five players who transferred within two years—Browne described himself as “a loyal person” determined to stick around through the lean times.

“I don’t want to say that West Virginia made me, but they give me every thing I need over here—the coaches, the fans, and the other people I’m surrounded by,” he said.

“You can’t just leave when things gets tough, at least in my perspective. I like challenge. I like to be great. When things are not going good, I want to make them good.”

Browne’s 7.0 points per game this season are a personal best, as is his 36-percent 3-point shooting. He emerged as WVU’s top offensive threat in wins at TCU (16 points) and Oklahoma State (18 points).

“Gary’s gotten better and better,” Huggins said . “It’s a same he got hurt at the end. He was making shots consistently, which he didn’t do before, but he’s always brought us that toughness. He brings that grit that you really need.”

Staten, the Big 12 preseason player of the year, has seen fewer minutes thanks to WVU’s deeper rotation, yet ranks fifth in the league in scoring (14.5), second in assists (4.6), second in assist/turnover ratio (2.4) and third in free-throw attempts (157).

After clashing with Huggins during his sophomore year, the Dayton transfer re-emerged as a floor leader and one of the nation’s most dynamic players.

“The first year I don’t think roles were very clearly defined,” Huggins said. “But he came in after that year and asked ‘What do you want me to do?’ He asked for tapes of Nick Van Exel and Steve Logan and committed himself to being one of the best point guards I ever coached.”

No. 20 WEST VIRGINIA (22-8, 10-7)
vs. OKLAHOMA STATE (18-11, 8-9)

Tipoff: 2 p.m. Eastern at the WVU Coliseum (ESPNews)

Scouting the Cowboys: Oklahoma State, projected as a No. 9 seed by Joe Lunardi and Jerry Palm, likely needs a win in Morgantown or one at the league tourney to cement an NCAA invite. … Le’Bryan Nash (17 points, 5.5 rebounds) is the Big 12’s second-leading scorer primarily because he gets to the foul line more frequently than anyone—a league-best 201 free-throw attempts. He finished with 12 points and four rebounds in the Pokes’ 73-63 loss to WVU in Stillwater. … Phil Forte (16.5 points, 1.9 steals) was only 1-of-3 from the floor in that game but made eight free throws to finish with 10 points. After starting OSU’s first 28 games, he came off the bench in Wednesday’s 82-70 win over TCU. … Though they’re just 3-7 in road games this season, the Cowboys made them count—winning at Memphis, Texas and Baylor. … LSU transfer point guard Anthony Hickey (9.6 points, 4.3 rebounds) is coming off a season-high 20 points vs. TCU. … Forward Michael Cobbins (6.8 points, 5.9 rebounds) joins Nash and Hickey among OSU’s five seniors.

Coaching the Cowboys: Travis Ford (324-243 overall in 18 seasons) stands 143-87 at Oklahoma State. Having led OSU to only one NCAA win in his first six seasons, his job could be in jeopardy. However a 10-year contract extension, which guarantees him $2.4 million for each of the next four years, makes firing Ford a costly proposition.

Mountaineer musings: If Staten and Browne can’t go, Jevon Carter (8.6 points, 1.8 steals) once again will handle the lion’s share of the point guard duties. His two-game audition over the past week yielded extreme results: 25 points in a 78-66 loss at Baylor and four points on 0-of-10 shooting in the 76-69 overtime loss at Kansas. … Daxter Miles (6.9 points, 2.3 rebounds) is coming off a career-high 23 points at Kansas. … Devin Williams (10.7 points, 8.0 rebounds) has fouled out twice in the past seven games and reached double figures only once. … Jonathan Holton (8 points, 6.1 rebounds) and Nathan Adrian (2.9 pouts, 2.5 rebounds) ) are the other projected starters. … Though they rank last in the Big 12 in 3-point defense, the Mountaineers held Kansas to 0-of-15 long-range shooting … WVU still leads the country in forced turnovers (20.1 per game). Only three times has it committed more turnovers than its opponent, losing all three games. …. Huggins (762-310 overall in his 33rd season) is 172-99 at West Virginia. He moved up a notch to second on the active wins list when the NCAA docked 108 from Syracuse’s Jim Boeheim on Friday.

RPIs: West Virginia 23, Oklahoma State 42

Line: West Virginia favored by 6

Prediction: Oklahoma State 62-60

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Comments

  • nashville cat

    the word I get browne and staten definitely won'[t play ,and a very good chance same for the tourn.
    Here's wishing a ll the seniors a huge thank you, and good luck with your futures whether it be in coaching or playing. great day to be a mountaineer

  • Aaron

    Nice write up on the Seniors Allan. Kevin Noreen would have most certainly helped this team. While he might be a tad slower than a slug, his ability to protect the rim, rebound, defend, toughness, pass and his overall understanding of what Huggs wants would have been monumental to this team. In addition, just being around the young players in practice would have helped them tremendously. And if nothing else, perhaps it would have allowed Huggins to redshirt Brandon Watkins, something that desperately needed to be done. Three years from now it's going to be a bitter pill to swallow knowing that WVU lost an entire year from a 23 year old Watkins over ~150 minutes during his sophomore year, which was less than half of what he played as a freshman.

    • Ole Sasquatch

      Totally agree on Noreen.
      Some people cannot understand the role Adrian is playing this year has a lot in common with those assets you mentioned for Noreen.
      There were times when Noreen looked like a dominant rebounder for us in the past.

      • Airmayle

        And what do Noreen, Adrian and Cam Thoroughman (sp?) all have in common? Tough guys that don't have the raw athletic skill of many of Huggins players, but they buy into the system, work hard, understand their role, and earn praise from Huggins. All the 'coaches' in the stands and on their couch like to talk about how 'weak' these players are, but don't understand the work and dedication they put in. I appreciate the guys who might not have as much raw skill, but work hard to become better players.

        • Ole Sasquatch

          I remember when Coach Catlett played. He filled the same role. 6' 4" tall came in and did the tough work and smiled in the face of those who wanted to punch him.

      • Aaron

        Adrian is another player Noreen would have helped tremendously. Right now, Adrian is playing the 4 or 5 whereas if Noreen were in the lineup, Adrian would play his natural spot, the 3, where he is a much better shooter.

  • Dave

    I can't figure out why william can get away with his suck- a- neer language but yet when I comment about williams lack of brain power, my comments get deleted?

    Waiting moderation......

    • Moonbat

      Alternately, 'some MetroNews comment theorists believe' that William is an employee of the site, which is why his garbage goes untouched.

      I believe that he is an intern that Allan and Hoppy keep chained in the broom closet, feeding him mercury and thermite paint, making him watch the 2012 Orange Bowl with his eyes toothpicked open.

      But that's just the rumor.

    • Fox News Mulder

      It was probably a word you used in the post. The moderation system is a bot that checks for flagged words and sends it to be approved by the moderator. I believe it is more of a passive system than an active one. Some of the words it targets are just silly, but that's another topic.

  • the flying dutchman

    seniors...thanks for choosing wvu and being a loyal mountaineer over the years...i wish you the best in the future wherever you may go....one more win today would be good...thanks for the memories...

  • Mister Man

    Go Mountaineers!!

  • jay zoom

    good luck to Staten/Browne/Noreen as the head out into the real world. If basketball is in your future somewhere I am sure you will shine.

  • GoEers

    A big thank you goes out to the seniors. This year they have been rewarded for their hard work, dedication, and loyalty. When times got tough, instead of quitting they asked what is it that we can do to make ourselves and this team better.

  • Dabo

    WV METRO NEWS NEEDS TO GET RID OF ALLAN TAYLOR.....He does not like WVU, and it is clear from his articles...I am going to try my best to get him terminated!!!

    • Head Ball Coach

      Still tying to figure out what a "top offensive treat" is. I think Allan should probably hold off on the Southern Comfort until after he hits the send button on his article.

    • wv_hawk

      Really?? Why do you even care who he picks?

      Is it going to make ANY difference in the outcome of the game? Of course not.

      The game will be played and the winner will be the team with the most points.

      BUT... if you're going to do something worthwhile... (instead of trying to get Taylor fired)... Get "william" declared stupid.

    • Bag of hammers

      You don't agree with a columnist's prediction so you want to get him fired? I'm sure his bosses will take you very seriously.

    • william

      no...keep him...ppl who never pick the Suck-a-neers to win are my kind of guys!!! "SWEATSUIT" Huggins and his crew of THUGS are done for the year...mark it down. U "fans" know it as does everyone else...NO WIN tomorrow, Marshall wins out.

      • Andy

        Dork

  • Dabo

    OSU needs a win to secure NCAA Tourney...so the officials and refs are going to make it hard for WVU to win.....money does influence officiating I don't care what the NCAA higher ups, conference commissioners, and television networks say...

  • Rick 55

    First and foremost, these seem like extraordinary young men, honorable and hard working young men. On the court, Staten and Brown in particular are examples of tremendous improvement during their time at WVU. Noreen was always astute. Juwan the most physically gifted, very quick; Kevin and Gary are grinders who made the most of their skills.

    • Just Sayin

      @ Rick55

      I read your last comment on the previous article and it cracked me up. I love people like you. Your the best dude!

  • Dave

    Thanks to all the Seniors for their contribution in Making the Mountaineers a great team that all the fans enjoy watching play. Each and every one of you have represented this fine University and the Great State of West Virginia with pride. I'll definitely miss seeing you guys out on the court next year. Thanks again for choosing West Virginia University.

  • Wet Willy

    "Suck-a-neer " is a so called Mountaineer who trolls on this site while collecting his disability check for being obese. I shall use the term in a sentence.
    "William enjoys sucking-a-neer daily for self satisfaction."
    Now we know where the term "Suck-a-neer originated from.

  • DMB

    I would like to thank Staten, Browne, Big Sweat ,and Hughes for your dedication to the Mountaineers. It has been a pleasure watching you play over the years. I wish you all the best in whatever you decide to do in the future. This might be the first game that Hughes gets more minutes than the other three combined. Thanks again.Go EERS

  • william

    Totally agree with your pick of Okie St to beat the Suck-a-neers....They won't win another game this season...The season is OFFICIALLY Over...Suck-a-neers will lose tomorrow...and will be one and done in both the conference and NCAA tourney..It is the TRUTH...Don't say I didn't tell you so..So sad to be a Suck-a-neer fan wherever you may be...

    • whatamoroon

      Look everyone who was first to post a comment on a Friday night. If anyone was on the fence about Billy being a pathetic basement dwelling loser, sit no more.

    • william

      So I guess this means you are saying Allan Taylor doesn't have any" Common sense" and is "Ignorant" as well because he also picked Okie State 2 beat the suck-a-neers on Senior day in Morgantown..And he wrote this article..lol.. You are such an IDIOT!!.Freedom of Press U FOOL..SO DUMB!!!!!

      • William is a big DB

        William and Marshall is a bunch of trash. Marshall is where scrubs and losers go. Little Marshall is an embarrassment to college athletics. Yeah Marshall is back in basketball. Staying at home in the dump city of Huntington. Trash pure trash

        • flossrancher

          Don't belittle Marshall's proud basketball tradition. During the glory days 45 years ago--with D'Antoni at point guard--they came very close to making the finals of the NIT.

      • Andy

        Dumbest man in the room shows his face again...

      • Andy

        What are you quoting? Idiot...fool. Dumb.

      • Dave

        Well I guess Allan didn't like the comment either. He deleted it.

    • Steve

      we've heard this song and dance before. Ask Texas and Kansas. Go "suck" an egg.

  • thomas

    thanks for the well written article and the background on noreen, which i've been wondering about. wishing him well.