The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

December 1, 2010

Huggs likes looks of young Noreen

By Dave Morrison
Sports Editor

CHARLESTON — Perhaps it was the season. Whatever it was, West Virginia coach Bob Huggins went straight to the pie.

Well, the figurative pie.

Huggins had just watched his team beat Virginia Military Institute 82-66 in front of 12,367 fans at the Charleston Civic Center Saturday.

WVU (4-1) hosts American tonight at the WVU Coliseum at 7 p.m.

Saturday’s was a bizarre game, with Truck Bryant and Dan Jennings not dressing (it wasn’t a suspension, Huggs said, he just wasn’t happy with their practice habits) and John Flowers, at one point, bringing the ball up the floor against VMI’s relentless press.

One of the bright spots — other than Casey Mitchell and Kevin Jones combining for 47 points — was Kevin Noreen, a 6-foot-10 freshman forward from Minneapolis, Minn.

His story is interesting. He never wavered from his claim that he wanted to play in the ACC or the Big East.

He originally signed a letter-of-intent with Boston College, but was released after coach Al Skinner was fired.

In the Mountaineers’ first four games he played twice, a total of eight minutes, and had two points against Minnesota.

“Kevin was our 11th guy, he was probably all but buried,” Huggins said. “I put him in the Minnesota game, he comes out and responds. I put him in this game, he comes out and responds.”

It wasn’t the scoring, which he did provide, sort of. More, it was his demeanor, his fire, his intensity that easily caught the eye.

Saturday, with Dan Jennings out, Noreen played 14 minutes, scored seven points, grabbed five rebounds and dished out three assists.

And that is when Huggs went to the pie.

He grabbed the stat sheet in front of him and shifted it to his right.

Basically he said the sheet was a piece of pie. There is only so much pie, you can’t make it any bigger. If somebody cuts off a bigger slice, somebody else is getting a smaller piece.

And Noreen is certainly making a claim at deserving a bigger slice.

Not bad for a guy who, at times, is confused. His comfort level isn’t where he wants it to be, at times. He hides it well.

“I’ll be honest, not very” Noreen said of his overall confidence. “If you don’t know what you’re doing, just fill the open spot. That’s what I’m trying to do if I’m lost.”

Still, he is getting there.

“I felt pretty good out there,” Noreen said. “Made a couple mistakes, but it’s good as long as I’m trying hard. Any time my name is called, I’ll just get in there and do my best.”

It’s three games into his career. So Noreen, with potential to be even better than the last Mountaineer recruit out of Minnesota, Brent Solheim, just does what he can.

“I’ll be the guy that provides energy,” says Noreen. “I’ll be the guy that coach can depend on to listen to him and execute his offense the best I can and just play my tail off.”

And get a bigger slice of that pie from Huggins.