Preview: West Virginia Mountaineers – Coppin State Eagles
The lowest-rated team of the year provides the opposition for West Virginia as it enters its final week of pre-conference play.
SCOUTING THE EAGLES
Coppin State is, well, a mess. The Eagles are 0-11 on the season, and their schedule has been less than conducive for success, featuring ten road games to date against a number of solid foes. CSU struggles to score, averaging just 55.1 points per outing so far, and none of its expected starters tally double figures in points. Karon Davis is the closest at 9.8 points, but does so on volume shooting, as he makes only 36.3% of his attempts. Adam Traore checks in with 7.6 points and six rebounds per game, but is even less efficient from the field than Davis.
Across the board, the Eagles has struggled, and are fighting huge deficits in rebounding (-14.7 per game) and assists. On the plus side, CSU is solid at the free throw line, making 76.1% of its tries, and can push pace to get steals and force turnovers, but that’s a tough bet against a Mountaineer team that thrives in the same areas.
The Eagles have also been hampered by the continuing absence of DeJuan Clayton, who started the first six games of the season and averaged 10.2 points per game. He suffered a reported knee injury against Central Connecticut State, and has not been in the lineup since. He is not listed as a projected starter against WVU, but while his presence would be a boost, it will take a lot more for CSU to get its team to a competitive state.
WVU head coach Bob Huggins scheduled an exhibition game against Wheeling Jesuit due to the 11 day break between the Pitt game and this contest, but in many respects facing Coppin State is similar to playing the Cardinals.
|WVU (9-1) vs. UP (5-4)||Wed Dec 20||7:00 PM EST|
|WVU Coliseum||Morgantown, WV||Series: WVU 2-0|
|RPI: WVU – 11 CSU- 308||TV: AT&T Sportsnet||Sirius/XM: 134 / 202|
|Twitter: @BlueGoldNews||Facebook: BlueGoldNews||Web: BlueGoldNews.com|
That doesn’t contradict the logic of his approach, but the Eagles will likely be less of a threat than the Division II in-state foe was. With that established, the focus is on WVU in this one, and again on its player development. Will some of the backups that got substantial time against WJU parlay that into better play in a “real” game?
The critical players to watch here are Teddy Allen, Logan Routt and De’Angelo Hunter. Allen is important because he gives the Mountaineers a different kind of guard than the trio in front of him. He needs to continue to progress on choosing his drives more judiciously, but his aggressive play there, and ability to post up, is very important to WVU. Staying under control is key.
Routt has played well in his appearances in place of Sagaba Konate, even though the majority of the backup minutes have gone to Maciej Bender. Is it time for him to at least split that time? He’s not going to make stunning plays, but if he can limit his mistakes, he deserves that chance. Eliminating turnovers is the key in this battle for time – the player that passes the ball and secures it best should earn more court time.
Hunter is in a tough spot, as he’s behind the other swingmen, and will full a notch further when Esa Ahmad returns. That doesn’t mean he should just be sitting, though. There will come a point or two during the season when, due to foul trouble or poor play, that he’ll be called upon. He got valuable minutes against WJU, and hopefully he can receive the same in this contest.
Coppin State is coached by Baltimore native Juan Dixon, who was named the named the seventh head coach in school history this past spring. Dixon came to Coppin after coaching the University of the District of Columbia in 2016-17 and serving as a special assistant to the head coach at his alma mater, Maryland, during the 2015-16 season. Dixon was a two-time All-American for the Terrapins and led Maryland to a national championship in 2002.
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Barring an unforeseen circumstance, Daxter Miles will join the 1,000 point club against the Eagles. That will put him 52nd on WVU’s all-time scoring list, but he’ll quickly move into the Top 50 and beyond. Leland Byrd (1,000 points even) and Patrick Beilein (1,001) will be bypassed by Miles, and Fred Schaus (1,009) will also drop behind the senior guard soon.
If he maintains his current 14.6 points per game average, he’d move into the career Top 25, and that’s without the benefit of additional postseason games, which the Mountaineers should qualify for.
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With limited height and little inside game, Coppin State depends on the three. It takes more than 27 such shots per game (29th nationally) but with limited success. The Eagles are no better than 339th nationally in any other field shooting metric. Given its very good free throw percentage, CSU might try to get the ball closer to the basket and attempt to draw fouls, even though it is not able to sustain a classic post offense.
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Might WVU, with a still limited rotation, lean more on the 1-3-1 as an alternative half court defense to protect against, or while in, foul trouble? The Mountaineers went to the zone heavily against Pitt, and will have to keep it available to help in those situations, as well as against teams who go on a perimeter shooting tear.
Guard Beetle Bolden has drawn the tough job of the baseline defender when in the game, and he details some of the keys to successful play in the defense that shows a much different look that WVU’s point-drop zone scheme. He was on the court and dressed for practice on Tuesday after spraining an ankle on Saturday, and appears to be ready to go in the Wednesday evening contest.