#49 West Virginia Mountaineers: College Basketball 111 in 111


wvu cheerleaders

Welcome to The Sports Bank’s third annual college basketball season preview series.  Two years we looked at 99 teams in 99 days.  Last year, we were slightly more aggressive and expanded to 111 teams in 111 days and will do so again as we look ahead to the 2012-2013 season.

We will rank the 75 power conference teams and top 36 mid-majors in reverse power ranking order.  We’ll break down rosters, transfers, incoming freshmen, non-conference schedules, and pick a player to watch for each team.

As a Big East fanatic, I hate that the West Virginia Mountaineers made the move to the Big 12 Conference.  It makes zero sense for the basketball program which has no even semi-rivals in their new league.  However, that is the ever evolving landscape of conference realignment.  In their inaugural season in the Big 12, West Virginia has some major shoes to fill if they hope to keep their run recent of success going.

Last Season: 8th, 9-9 in Big East, 19-13 overall
Predicted Big 12 Finish: 4th

Projected Depth Chart
C: Deniz Kilicli (Sr)/Kevin Noreen (So)
PF: Aaric Murray (Jr)/Keaton Miles (So)/Dominic Rutledge (Sr)/Volodymyr Gerun (So)
G: Juwan Staten (So)/Aaron Brown (So)
G: Gary Browne (So)/Matthew Humphrey (Sr)/Terry Henderson (Fr)/Eron Harris (Fr)
PG: Jabarie Hinds (So)

Gone: PF-Kevin Jones, G-Truck Bryant, PF-Tommie McCune (transfer-Northern Illinois), C-Pat Forsythe (transfer-Akron)

2012-2013 Outlook:
Last season, West Virginia relied heavily on the senior duo of Kevin Jones and Truck Bryant to lead the way.  That pair averaged more than half of the Moutaineers’ offensive output so replacing them becomes a huge task for Bob Huggins who will rely on a pair of transfers to fill the void.

6-10 big man Aaric Murray becomes eligible after sitting out last season.  He led La Salle in scoring (15.2), rebounding (7.7), and blocked shots (2.3) during his sophomore campaign and is a potential first round pick in the NBA Draft.  Combine him with returning center Deniz Kilicli and WVU has a solid one-two combo inside that brings a ton of physicality to the paint.  Murray also has nice range on his jump shot that should give the Moutaineers a high-low option with their bigs.

There is quality depth off the bench with Kevin Noreen, Keaton Miles. and Dominic Rutledge who all played reserve roles a year ago.  Offense is not the forte of that trio though as they combined to average more rebounds than points.  The late addition of Ukrainian Volodymyr Gerun (who sounds like a Lord of the Rings character) adds some offensive ability to the frontline but it’s uncertain as to how much of an immediate impact he can make this year.

Huggins primarily utilized a three guard line-up and that should be case once again this year with returning starters Jabarie Hinds and Garry Browne, and the addition of Dayton transfer Juwan Staten.  All three players are capable of handling the point guard responsibilities but none of them are great outside shooters.  It would also give West Virginia a very small backcourt since none of them are taller than 6’1.  Of the three, Staten is most likely to emerge as the Bryant-type scoring option.

Boston College transfer and graduate student Matt Humphrey will play a major role this season as well.  Humphrey is known for his three-point shooting and at 6-5, could find his way into the starting five to add more size and ability to stretch defenses.  The progress of sophomore wing Aaron Brown will also be advantageous for the Mountaineers since he is a capable outside shooter but also adds some length and athleticism on the wing.  Freshman Terry Henderson and Eron Harris provide even more options in the backcourt.

Huggins’ teams have a tendency of finishing higher than they are predicted to do in the preseason.  It will take a collective effort to replace the scoring of Jones and Bryant but I certainly would not rule out WVU pulling it together and returning to the NCAA Tournament for a sixth straight year.

Player to Watch: Aaric Murray
Murray has a chance to be one of biggest impact transfers in all of college basketball.  The knock on him in the past is that he spends too much time on the perimeter rather than establishing himself on the block.  I’m guessing Huggins won’t allow that to happen and when paired with Kilicli, the Mountaineers will have one of the most physical frontcourts in the nation.

Key Non-Conference Games:
11/12 at Gonazga
11/22 vs. Marist (Old Spice Classic)
11/23 vs. Vanderbilt/Davidson (Old Spice Classic)
11/25 vs. Gonzaga/Clemson/Oklahoma/UTEP (Old Spice Classic)
12/5 vs. Marshall
12/8 vs. Virginia Tech
12/11 at Duquesne
12/15 vs. Michigan (in Brooklyn)
1/19 at Purdue

OTHER 111 IN 111’S:
#50 BYU Cougars
#51 Temple Owls
#52 Washington Huskies
#53 California Golden Bears
#54 Kansas State Wildcats
#55 Nevada Wolfpack
#56 Colorado Buffaloes
#57 Iowa State Cyclones
#58 Northern Iowa Panthers
#59 Colorado State Rams
#60 Iowa Hawkeyes
#61 South Florida Bulls
#62 Valparaiso Crusaders
#63 Illinois Fighting Illini
#64 Arkansas Razorbacks
#65 Wichita State Shockers
#66 George Mason Patriots
#67 Virginia Cavaliers
#68 Villanova Wildcats
#69 Maryland Terrapins
#70 Marshall Thundering Herd
#71 Iona Gaels
#72 Northwestern Wildcats
#73 Oklahoms State Cowboys
#74 Rutgers Scarlet Knights
#75 USC Trojans
#76 UConn Huskies
#77 Harvard Crimson
#78 Xavier Musketeers
#79 Ole Miss Rebels
#80 Clemson Tigers
#81 Oregon State Beavers
#82 Texas A&M Aggies
#83 Providence Friars
#84 Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets
#85 Oklahoma Sooners
#86 Lehigh Mountain Hawks
#87 Washington State Cougars
#88 Long Beach State 49ers
#89 Belmont Bruins
#90 Vanderbilt Commodores
#91 Dayton Flyers
#92 Houston Cougars
#93 UCF Knights
#94 Old Dominion Monarchs
#95 Oregon Ducks
#96 LSU Tigers
#97 South Carolina Gamecocks
#98 Seton Hall Pirates
#99 Georgia Bulldogs
#100 DePaul Blue Demons
#101 Boston College Eagles
#102 Penn State Nittany Lions
#103 Arizona State Sun Devils
#104 Virginia Tech Hokies
#105 Texas Tech Red Raiders
#106 Auburn Tigers
#107 Wake Forest Demon Deacons
#108 TCU Horned Frogs
#109 Mississippi State Bulldogs
#110 Utah Utes
#111 Nebraska Cornhuskers

David Kay is a senior feature NBA DraftNBA, and college basketball writer for the Sports Bank.  He also heads up the NBA and college basketball material at Walter Football.com and is a former contributor at The Washington Times Communities.  David has appeared on numerous national radio programs spanning from Cleveland to New Orleans to Honolulu.  He also had the most accurate 2011 NBA Mock Draft and the most accurate 2012 NBA Mock Draft on the internet (Yup, repeat champ… #humblebrag.)

You can follow him on Twitter at David_Kmiecik.

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