The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

College Sports

November 17, 2013

Mountaineers look for revenge against Dukes

Greenbrier East’s Romeo featured on Mountaineer Illustrated

Duquesne may be the Dukes, but it’s not Duke. The Pittsburgh-area squad isn’t ranked in the top 5 and doesn’t sell jerseys across the country.

But West Virginia (1-1) still has plenty of motivation tonight when the Dukes (1-1) visit the WVU Coliseum for a 4 p.m. contest that will air locally on ROOT Sports.

It starts with a recent memory.

Head coach Bob Huggins’ team held a 17-point first-half lead Tuesday at Virginia Tech, only to watch the Hokies erase almost all of it before halftime and eventually win 87-82. For a team trying to heal the scars from a 13-19 finish last season, the result was tough to take.

“We didn’t respond,” said junior forward Remi Dibo, a junior college transfer who’s averaged 10.5 points and 3.5 rebounds through the first two games. “It’s college basketball and everybody wants to win. When they came back, we didn’t handle it very well.”

WVU will be looking for a more complete game today, but it will also try to avenge one of the many disappointments from last season, a 60-56 loss to Duquesne at the CONSOL Energy Center in Pittsburgh. That game was much like Tuesday’s, with WVU blowing a 15-point lead.

“When we have somebody down, we need to keep them there,” said junior point guard Juwan Staten, who’s averaged 16 points, 6.5 assists and five rebounds per game. “We just have to continue to do what we do and play hard all the way through the game.”

Duquesne began the season with a 94-75 win over Abilene Christian, but the Atlantic 10 members lost 84-81 to New Hampshire on Wednesday.

Junior guard Tra’Vaughn White is the Dukes’ top scorer, averaging 19 points per game, while 6-foot-8 forward Ovie Soko is averaging a double-double with 15.5 points and 10.5 boards.

WVU holds a 50-37 advantage in the all-time series with the Dukes and hasn’t lost to them at home since the 2001-02 season.

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Area Mountaineer fans making the trip to Morgantown for today’s game — or for Thursday’s game against Georgia Southern or Saturday’s meeting with Presbyterian — will be greeted by a familiar face upon entering the WVU Coliseum.

Greenbrier East High School graduate Richard Romeo is featured on the Nov. 8 through Nov. 23 edition of Mountaineer Illustrated, the official WVU basketball game day program.

A sophomore walk-on, the 5-foot-11 guard from White Sulphur Springs played in four games as a freshman, seeing seven minutes of action. He scored two points and dished out an assist.

Romeo, who averaged 10.5 points, seven assists, four rebounds and four steals in his senior season with the Spartans, hasn’t seen the floor yet this season, but playing time doesn’t seem to be a major concern. He’s putting in the time in the weight room and on the practice floor to better his game and try to work his way into a larger role, but until that time he’s happy just to wear the uniform and perform whatever role is needed.

Romeo had a chance to play college basketball at a number of smaller schools — where he surely would have seen significantly more action — but when he was invited to walk on for the Mountaineers, he didn’t hesitate.

“I wasn’t afraid,” he told Mountaineer Illustrated. “When Coach Huggins asks you to come, you have to. He’s kind of the godfather of the state. You don’t tell him no.”

— E-mail: chuffman

and follow on Twitter @CamHuffmanRH.

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