West Virginia has 12 Big East Championships along with two Elite 8's and a Final Four.
The Mountaineers looked impressive beating Duke in the NCAA Tournament two seasons ago, but had somewhat of a disappointing 08-09' year but they seem hungrier than ever.
With a roster full of talent they may look for a superstar to emerge within. Maybe they'll find another Jerry West on the team. One thing is for certain, coach Huggins has his team ready to make some noise for the upcoming 2009-2010 season.
Head Coach Bob Huggins 49-23 in two seasons at West Virginia
Key Departures Alex Ruoff 15.7 ppg.
- SG Casey Mitchell-6'4, 215 lbs. JUCO transfer. Chose West Virginia over Kansas and Kentucky.
- SG Dalton Pepper-6'5, 210 lbs. Undersized at SF but plays big and is also a solid rebounder.
- PF Deniz Kilici-6'9, 250 lbs. At his size, he runs the floor extremely well and finishes around the rim strong.
- PF Dan Jennings-6'8, 225 lbs. He overpowers opponents in the paint and is a good offensive rebounder.
A Look Back at 2008-09
Record: 23-12 (12-9, Big East)
Coming into last season, West Virginia had a talented freshman in Devin Ebanks along with another one, Darryl Bryant. However they lost junior point guard Joe Mazzulla for an entire season. Coming off 07-08 with a win against Duke and a Sweet 16 appearance, they had extremely high expectations, so each piece of the team was important.
They began last year 11-2, with losses to Kentucky and a Stephon Curry led Davidson squad. They then took a tough loss 55-61 to Uconn which was a big game against a likely Final Four group. Next, Marquette blew them apart by 22 points but they bounced back with a victory over a talented but bad Georgetown team.
When the Big East Tournament arrived they had assured a much needed bye. West Virginia first beat a loaded Notre Dame team followed by a whooping of #2 Pitt. Although they looked poised for a deep run, West Virginia was seeded #6th in the NCAA Tournament and lost to #11 Dayton in the opening round subsequently ending a promising season.
PG Joe Muzzulla 6'2 200 lbs. Jr. 08' (18.5, 5.0 ppg, 3.0 rpg, 2.3 apg) Joe Muzzulla sat most of last season after missing 30 games. If he's healthy, the Mountaineers will need his leadership and presence.
SG Da'Sean Butler 6'7 230 lbs. Sr. (33.1 mpg, 17.1 ppg, 5.9 rpg) A potential Player of the Year candidate, Da'Sean can score on any defender in his way. His size at 6'7 makes him a tough cover for guards and forwards.
SF Wellington Smith 6'7 245 lbs. Sr. (21.4 mpg, 5.2 ppg, 3.8 rpg) Smith is a solid rebounder who grabbed 70 offensive rebounds as a junior. He is a decent shooter and has 124 blocked shots at West Virginia.
PF Devin Ebanks So. 6'9 215 lbs. (30.2 mpg, 10.5 ppg, 7.8 rpg) Terrific as a freshman and was also the leader. His skills in the paint and on the perimeter makes him one of the most versatile players in the country.
PF Kevin Jones 6'8 250 lbs. So. (19.3 mpg, 6.3 ppg, 4.9 rpg) Played very well as a freshman on both ends of the court. He may have a breakout year if he continues to play defense and rebound, however he is a little undersized at center.
6th Man- Darryl Bryant (25.6 mpg, 9.8 ppg, 2.7 apg) He did a great job in place of Muzzulla last season. He's a combo-guard who can shoot the rock extremely well.
- @ Purdue: Jan 1. Could be a top 10 matchup and will feature experienced teams.
- @ Connecticut : Feb 27. Uconn will push West Virginia with their stellar backcourt.
- @Villanova: March 6. a matchup of two possible Elite 8 teams from Big East.
Coach Bob Huggins will look to get his team motivated as they kick-off with Loyola Maryland. West Virginia will look to excel with their experience and leadership.
Da'Sean Butler's ability to create and score should go a long way for Huggins' team. He may become a Big East Player of the Year candidate as the season grows old. Ebanks has All-America potential as long as he plays within the team concept. He's skilled somewhat like Kyle Singler of Duke and he has a great awareness on the court.
Freshman Deniz Kilici may get minutes if he can play defense and rebound. I like Mazzula and Bryant to lead the backcourt. Casey Mitchell is another option off the pine for Huggins.
Huggins will count on Kevin Jones and Wellington Smith to do the dirty work like Ed Davis and Danny Green for the Tar Heels.
If the Mountaineers remain healthy, they will be as good as anyone in Big East.
The strength of the conference should slow down all of the contenders in the league but West Va. may be able to stand out amongst the pack. Look for this team in the Elite 8, perhaps even further.
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