Preview: WVU – American
West Virginia begins the process of recovering from its blowout loss in the season opener to a team that suffered one of its own when it face American on Wednesday evening at the WVU Coliseum
SCOUTING THE EAGLES
The Eagles face their second Big 12 team in a row, albeit one much closer to home, when they travel to Morgantown to visit the Mountaineers. American made the trek to Manhattan, Kan., last Friday, and endured an 83-45 shellacking at the hands of Kansas State.
Transfer guard Larry Motuzis provided much of the Eagles’ offensive hitting seven of 14 shots from the field, including a 3-9 mark from 3-point rage, for 17 points. Backup forward Matt Cimino, a cross-town transfer form George Washington a year ago, scored eight points in just six minutes of action, including a pair of threes.
American went with a short rotation of eight players against K-State. Forwards Jesse Little and Sam Iorio had a combined five points, while guards Sa’eed Nelson and Chiekh Diallo had five each. Forwards Nick Macarchuk and Drew LaMont had 21 and 18 minutes off the bench, respectively, but also contributed just five points each. Nelson was a standout as a freshman, and earned ironman status by averaging nearly 38 minutes per game.
The Eagles were clearly outmanned from the start, and made just 30.4% of their shots while getting crushed 41-23 on the boards. Only six Eagles broke into the scoring column in the game, and only Iorio collected more than three rebounds (four). The three-guard set used by AU yielded only four three throw attempts in the game, and the perimeter-oriented offense took 55% of its field goal attempts from beyond the 3-point line.
West Virginia clearly has a ton of problems to address after it was left in Texas A&M’s dust. Is this game a good place to start?
|WVU (0-1) vs. AU (0-1)||Wed Nov 15||7:00 PM EST|
|WVU Coliseum||Morgantown, WV||Series: WVU 4-1|
|RPI: WVU – 4 AU – 13||TV: AT&T SportsNet||Sirius/XM: 134/201|
On one hand, the answer might be yes. WVU has to figure out how to involve its frontcourt in the offensive flow, and every chance it has to run live reps could help in that regard. There were brief flashes of good passing in the halfcourt early in the game, but that devolved into a 3-point launching affair, mirroring parts of the American – Kansas State contest. There is no way that WVU, even it if gets anticipated better shooting from its guards, can win shooting 35-40 threes per game, so getting better sets and learning how to run the offense more efficiently is the priority.
On the flip side, American is a very young (seven freshmen) team that doesn’t have the raw talent to match up with most big conference foes. K-State demonstrated that last Friday. While comparative scores can be dangerous things, WVU must match the Wildcats level of dominance in order to show that it can be competitive in the Big 12. A close game would set off even more warning bells than those sounded after the loss to the Aggies.
Rebounding, and the overall aggressiveness of the front court, will be in the spotlight in the home opener. Sagaba Konate has the strength and size to compete inside, but has to put that to use on every play on the boards. His lack of experience in his basketball career works against him here– he doesn’t have the years of experience to help him be a rebounding savant yet – but he has to get after the ball on both ends of the court. Maciej Bender has yet to show much in traffic or in the lane. Will he become a mostly outside player? He did have six rebounds in 18 minutes against the Aggies – that’s a number WVU needs from him consistently. Logan Routt played just one minute in Germany. Is that a sign of where he is in the anticipated rotation, or simply a match-up issue?
Texas A&M had four players with more rebounds that the top performer on WVU’s team.
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American is one of only four Division I teams without a senior on its roster. The others are Kentucky, Holy Cross and Bowling Green.
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Guards not named Beetle Bolden were 8-28 for the Mountaineers in their opener.
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AU is 1-9 all-time against current Big 12 teams. The lone win came against WVU in 1975. That WVU team would have done well to avoid Washington, D.C.-based teams – it also lost to George Washington and Georgetown that season.