By Cam Huffman
The tune-up went well, and now Bob Huggins is ready to wheel out his rebuilt West Virginia basketball team for its first real test.
The Mountaineers host Mount Saint Mary’s in the regular season opener tonight at 8 p.m. in a game that will air live on FOX59.
WVU is trying to erase the memory of a 13-19 finish last year that included a 6-12 league record in its first season as a Big 12 member. It was just the third losing season in the 30-plus year career of head coach Bob Huggins and the first at West Virginia. The 719-game winner has never had back-to-back losing seasons.
The Mountaineers have a rebuilt roster — both in faces and attitudes. Freshmen Devin Williams, Nathan Adrian and Brandon Watkins are all expected to play major minutes, as is walk-on Chase Connor, a former Shady Spring High School standout.
Those who are back, Huggins said, are playing with a new attitude. Sophomore guards Eron Harris and Terry Henderson, the top returning scorers, have taken on leadership roles, and junior guards Juwan Staten and Gary Browne have put in extra work after sub-par seasons last winter.
Tonight’s opponent isn’t at the level of Gonzaga — WVU’s first foe last season — but MSM, the other Mountaineers, went 18-14 last year before falling to LIU Brooklyn in the Northeast Conference championship game. They’re picked to finish in sixth place in the conference this year.
Head coach Jamion Christian calls his style of play “Mayhem.” The Mountaineers press on defense and love to shoot the 3-pointer on offense.
The two Mountaineers last met in the 2006 season opener. Darris Nichols scored 14 points to lead WVU to a 50-42 victory.
Tonight’s men’s game will follow the season opener for the women against Ohio State. That game is scheduled for a 5:30 p.m. tipoff, and one $10 ticket will admit fans to both games.
— E-mail: chuffman@ register-herald.com