2009-2010 West Virginia Mountaineers Basketball Preview
The West Virginia Mountaineers (23- 12 overall, 10- 8 Big East) are a team on the rise. Last season, after finishing in the middle of the crowded Big East pack, the Mountaineers earned a berth at the Big Dance, losing in round one 60- 68 to Dayton. Like Villanova, West Virginia looks to be moving up the Big East food chain. They are ready to contend for the top spot in the league.
It was about defense last season. The Mountaineers were first in scoring defense, allowing a mere 61.8 PPG and third in rebound margin, earning a plus-5.8 differential. On the other hand, West Virginia’s scoring was limited. They were 10th in scoring offense (72.0 PPG) and 11th in field goals (43%) and threes (33%). The team hit free throws 70% of the time, which ranked them seventh.
Senior forward Da’Sean Butler (17.1 PPG, 5.9 RPG, 1.7 APG) and sophomore forward Devin Ebanks (10.5 PPG, 7.8 RPG, 2.7 APG) anchor the frontcourt. Ebanks can carry the club on his back when needed. Butler needs to be more consistent. The third man upfront is Wellington Smith (5.2 PPG, 3.8 RPG, 1.3 APG). Smith, who is recovering from a stress fracture, needs to be a bigger presence. Sophomore forward Kevin Jones (6.3 PPG, 4.9 RPG, 0.6 APG) is fine off the bench.
The Mountaineer’s backcourt is questionable. Guard Joe Mazzulla (5.6 PPG, 2.3 RPG, 3.7 APG) separated his shoulder last season and also found himself in legal trouble. He’ll need to have his act together in order for the backcourt to be productive. If he can’t do it, sophomore Darryl Bryant (9.8 PPG, 1.8 RPG, 2.7 APG) will be given the chance. He performed well last season when Mazzulla was out. At the shooting spot, junior college transfer Casey Mitchell is able to create his own shot. Last year, he was the Junior College Athletic Association Player of the Year. His backup will be freshman talent Dalton Pepper.
Coach Bob Huggins is one of the best around. He’s able to create winners and mentor teams towards success. If the point can come through and the new shooting guards pan out, the Mountaineers will be one of the best in the Big East. Of the 16 Big East programs, there are only four teams that have posted winning conference records each of the past four years. Along with UConn, Pittsburgh and Marquette, West Virginia is in that category. This could be a big year for this club.