WVU Basketball: Experience, Leadership Issues Facing West Virginia Coach

Daniel KablackCorrespondent IIIAugust 7, 2011

The normally soft-spoken Bob Huggins can explode in fury at any point during a game
The normally soft-spoken Bob Huggins can explode in fury at any point during a gameMike Ehrmann/Getty Images

The time has come upon us, when we think about books, clothes shopping and the joys that come with the beginning of the school year.

Of course I'm not talking about class, I'm talking about sports.

If there is something college aged kids love, it's sports...and maybe alcohol.

But in an attempt to keep this article "G-rated," I will disregard the latter and discuss my thoughts on this year's Mountaineer basketball team.

Despite losing many of their elder teammates at the conclusion of last season, West Virginia still has a plethora of talent available on their platter.

One would think this is a good thing, until they come to the realization that only four of those players have actually played in a college basketball game, ever.

Mountaineers coach Bob Huggins has a lot of work to do as he guides his team into the regular season.

Luckily, he's got the chance to start early and will do so when his team plays in a scrimmage against Illinois in a game near Venice, Italy.

Not only that, but his team will also take on two professional European teams during their time on the Mediterranean coast—all valuable practice for a group of players with six incoming freshmen.

Kevin Jones and Truck Bryant are the only two returning starters for WVU
Kevin Jones and Truck Bryant are the only two returning starters for WVUMike Ehrmann/Getty Images

Senior leadership will be hard to come by, as forward Kevin Jones and guard Darryl "Truck" Bryant are the only two seniors—and starters—returning to the team. Forward Deniz Kilicli played off the bench most of last season and forward Kevin Noreen was redshirted after playing only a few minutes.

The only two other players with any college experience are transfers Juwan Staten from Dayton and Aaric Murray from La Salle; but they both must sit out the season before they are eligible to play.

Bob Huggins is taking it in stride.

"At least they're not throwing it out of bounds," Huggins said during an interview after Friday's afternoon practice.

Huggins' team is starting extra early this year with additional exhibition games in the preseason. Normally, teams would not be permitted to play exhibition games before the start of the season against other American or collegiate teams, but the NCAA made an exception for the scrimmage against the Illini in Italy.

It's likely the Mountaineers will be relying heavily on the leadership of the more experienced players this year as the new freshmen develop and learn the Huggins offense.

With the WVU coach starting so many young players, it's likely he will develop this group to play a much faster style of offense; as Huggins used to run with the Cincinnati Bearcats.

A slow, grind-it-out offense is not what Huggins is accustomed to, despite having relatively good success with it during his last few seasons at West Virginia.

More national media coverage than ever will make things even more interesting.

To see how Coach Huggins rebuilds an entire team throughout the season will be one of the best stories this year in Morgantown.




More West Virginia Football

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More West Virginia Sports

- WVU Basketball: WVU, Illinois Set to Play in Italy for the Troops

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Daniel Kablack is a College Basketball & College Football Writer for BigEastVoice.com