The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

December 18, 2012

Can WVU build on strong showing?

BY Mickey Furfari
For The Register-Herald

MORGANTOWN — Despite coach Bob Huggins’ postgame lashing of his team, I was encouraged by the West Virginia men’s basketball team in its 81-66 loss to No. 3-ranked Michigan.

The Mountaineers (4-5) pulled to within seven points of John Beilein’s Wolverines (11-0) late in the contest. I got the distinct feeling that there were positives on which West Virginia can build the rest of the season.

Huggins, the third-winningest among all active Division I coaches, said he was “sick” of his team’s lack of effort and occasional mistakes and lapses.

“I’m not so much worried about our shooting,” Huggins reasoned, “as I am about us playing (well). We start the game and for the first minutes, we don’t get one rebound.

“And in the first seven minutes, I don’t believe we had a stop (against Michigan). We don’t play. We don’t compete.

“I thought we put some guys in today who will compete.”

Hopefully, the Mountaineers will find the going easier and somewhat more successful in Wednesday’s home game against Oakland at the Coliseum. It’s later than the usual tip-off, starting at 9 p.m.

WVU needs to be sharper in its shooting and play better defense against Oakland, which is located in Rochester, Minn. That school won only three of its first 10 games this season.

Michigan shot a sizzling 56 percent from the field (28 of 50) while limiting West Virginia to 34.7 percent (20 of 53) in Brooklyn, N.Y., last Saturday.

The Mountaineers have shot less than 40 percent in the last four contests. The Wolverines also managed a slight edge in rebounds.

This will be only the second meeting between WVU and Oakland, which is nicknamed the Golden Grizzlies. WVU won 95-71 in the 2010-11 season’s opener in Morgantown.

Greg Kampe, a Bowling Green alumnus, is in his 29th year as Oakland’s head coach. His record was 470-349 at season’s start.

Eight lettermen, including four starters, are available from last year’s team that posted a 20-16 record.

Juwan Staten, a 6-foot-1, 190-pound sophomore guard, leads the Mountaineers in both scoring (10.8 per game) and in play-making with 23 assists. Aaric Murray, 6-10, 245-pound junior center, is the leading rebounder with 7.0 per game.

West Virginia will remain at home to play Radford in a game which begins at 4 p.m. Saturday.

Wednesday night’s contest will be televised by ESPNU.