The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

October 16, 2013

Young Mountaineer basketball team makes its debut Friday

By Cam Huffman
Sports Editor

— The leaves are changing. The temperatures are turning colder and the smell of wood smoke is filling the hills and valleys throughout the Mountain State. That can only mean one thing.

Basketball?

On the eve of Saturday’s West Virginia-Texas Tech football matchup, Mountaineer fans will get their first glimpse of the 2013-14 WVU basketball team during the Gold-Blue Debut, presented by Coke Zero.

Gates to the WVU Coliseum will open at 6:30 p.m. Friday night, with the event beginning at 7:30 p.m. Free to the public, the showcase will include a 40-minute officiated scrimmage between a Gold team and a Blue team, introductions of players and coaches, performances by the Mountaineer pep band, cheerleaders and dance team, a speech from head coach Bob Huggins and an autograph session on the Coliseum floor.

“I thought the fans would enjoy a scrimmage more than watching us have a 3-point shooting contest,” said Huggins of the format. “And obviously it helps us more.

“We haven’t run up and down at all. We need to scrimmage, but with all those new guys, we’ve been doing so much teaching we haven’t had an opportunity to run up and down. We’ve got to start running up and down, obviously, but I think it’s a great opportunity for the fans to come out and see the new guys.”

Those new faces will include junior college transfers Remi Dibo and Jonathan Holton — who still hasn’t been ruled eligible to play but will be allowed to take the floor Friday night — as well as freshmen Devin Williams, Nathan Adrian and Brandon Watkins.

It will also be the WVU debut for former Shady Spring standout Chase Connor, one of four walk-ons on this year’s club.

Connor will join Greenbrier East graduate Richard Romeo, now in his second season as a Mountaineer walk-on.

Huggins said his team will scrimmage at Ohio State next Saturday, a game closed to the public, but he’s excited to get it on the Coliseum floor in front of a crowd Friday night.

He’s also looking forward to working on some things he can’t do in a regular practice.

“We haven’t played (sophomore guards) Eron (Harris) and Terry (Henderson) together,” he explained. “We haven’t played (junior guards) Gary (Browne) and Juwan (Staten) together. They’ve played against each other to keep things competitive. So the scrimmage will be good for us.”

Huggins said his team won’t have the size and strength of others in the Big 12, but it will have some speed, and both guards and big men have shown the ability to knock down outside shots.

“I’d like to say we’ll play really hard and be really physical, but I think they’re outlawing the physicality,” said Huggins. “So I don’t know how physical we’ll be able to be. We’ll be more perimeter oriented. We’ll probably be more like we were the first few years, rather than after we got Deniz (Kilicli) and some of those inside guys. The bulk of our scoring will come from the perimeter. That’s what we’re good at.”

WVU — looking to rebound from a disappointing 13-19 season a year ago — will play a public exhibition Nov. 4 in Morgantown against Fairmont State before opening up the regular season at home against Mount St. Mary’s on Nov. 8.

— E-mail: chuffman

@register-herald.com and follow on Twitter @CamHuffmanRH.