Who Will Lead Scoring Effort For WVU Men’s Hoops?

Emmitt Matthews dunks on a fast break

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — The great songwriter George Gershwin captured the mood of summertime better than anyone before or since when he started his classic aria from the opera Porgy and Bess this way:

and the living is easy
fish are jumpin’
and the cotton is high

You could almost feel the heat of summer hanging heavily on you. Like, not much to do, not much you want to do.

Maybe run out to the lake or the creek and catch you some fish, but you ain’t gonna involve yourself in pickin’ cotton, because well, it was summertime.

Vacation. School is out. Just lay back, work on that tan, have a beer if you are old enough, an iced tea if not. Sleep in and stay out late.

Sounds good, but what if you are in a college town, what if you are a coach, an athlete or, of all things, a sportswriter?

They are playing no games. As an athlete you may grunt in the weight room or conduct your own informal workouts, spending time on timing, working on bonding as a team.

Yeah, the living is easy, all right.

Get all of our print editions with your subscription today!

As a coach or sportswriter, though, your brain is working overtime. The coach is putting together his plans for the coming season, the sportswriter trying to figure out what those plans will be.

No, that may not be pickin’ cotton, but it ain’t easy, either.

Especially true with Bob Huggins and his basketball team, where so many players have moved into a new environment that Huggins has to feel like a golf course architect with nothing but a tract of land before him, that out of which he has to one-up Mother Nature and take her creation and turn it into a beautiful, yet challenging, test of golf.

With his roster and schedule now complete, he is in his creative mode, and that got me to thinking the other day of just what his team will look like. It also got me to thinking what you thought he might have on his hands.

So we put out a quickie poll on Twitter and Facebook asking who you thought would be his leading scorer. Normally, that is not a problem, but this coming season, everything is so new that it isn’t clear where the points are going to come from because it isn’t clear what kind of offense will be run. There is no Da’Sean Butler, no Deuce McBride, no Taz Sherman. There is no go-to guy to take the buzzer beater, no one player that the defense must focus on.

Eight of the top nine scorers from last season are gone. Kedrian Johnson, a point guard, is the top returning scorer. He averaged only 5.3 points per game. Next up among returning players is sophomore guard Seth Wilson, who averaged 1.9.

Not much to go on, but the freshman class is strong and the group of transfers is rated by some among the nation’s best.

So, who will be the leading scorer?

This was the Twitter poll result:

Emmitt Matthews Jr. 33.5%
Tre Mitchell 30.4%
Erik Stevenson 24.1%
Seth Wilson 12%

The Facebook poll wasn’t much different:
Matthews Jr. 48%
Mitchell 20%
Stevenson 26%
Wilson 5%

Tre Mitchell

What this says is that a lot is expected from Matthews Jr., who played his first three years at WVU, transferred home to the University of Washington in the Pac-12 last year, and now returns for his last season of eligibility.

Matthews Jr. has averaged around 11 points per game for his last couple of seasons, is capable of hitting a corner three, but mostly is a slasher.

This says a lot after Huggins tried to build his team around 3-point shooters last year and found it did not fit his style or his mentality.

What this poll said is what Huggins has hinted at as he put this team together — this will be a physical, defensive, aggressive team.

The last two years his teams have not be able to score around the basket out of a set offense or in transition.

The emphasis this year is going to be on defense and rebounding as a means of turning it into offense. Huggins brought in a group of big men — Mitchell, Jimmy Bell, Mohamed Wague and Pat Suemnick — who he believes can rebound and score points in close while protecting the rim.

But the man who may — with Matthews Jr. and Mitchell, the Texas transfer — hold the key to what this team’s personality will be about is James Okonkwo, a 6-8 player who came to WVU two years before they thought he would but sat out almost all of last season with injury.

All season long Huggins raved about what he saw from Okonkwo in practice, about how he was the team’s best rebounder.

“He shocked me. He was a lot better than what I saw on film,” Huggins said early in the year, right after he was injured. “The way he was playing before he got hurt, he was going to play. He’s quicker off the floor than our other guys.”

Now he’s ready to go and he adds an element that was lacking in last year’s team.

This year Huggins goes into the season looking to take a giant step forward by taking a step back, becoming the kind of team that he always has done best with, that being a physical, intimidating group.

“We didn’t and couldn’t rebound the ball a year ago. We didn’t guard anybody a year ago. I think if we can do those things, we are going to be a much, much better basketball team,” Huggins said. “Plus, we couldn’t throw the ball close (to the basket). Through the years, one of the strengths of my teams is that we could throw the ball close when you need a basket. With the guys we have now, I think we are going to be able to throw it close and score.”

What’s more, a year ago his guards were gunners in Taz Sherman and Sean McNeil. This year with the two Johnsons — Kobe and Kedrian — returning and joined by transfers Joe Toussaint and Erik Stevenson, he has the kind of players who can handle the ball and set things up near the basket.

Home Page forums Who Will Lead Scoring Effort For WVU Men’s Hoops?

  • This topic has 3 replies, 4 voices, and was last updated by Butlereer.
Viewing 4 posts - 1 through 4 (of 4 total)
  • Author
  • #184125

    MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — The great songwriter George Gershwin captured the mood of summertime better than anyone before or since when he started his classi
    [See the full post at: Who Will Lead Scoring Effort For WVU Men’s Hoops?]


    My money is on Mathews


    Seems logical – could see several guys averaging six or eight ppg.  Not sure if there’s a dominant scorer on the team, but not a lot of weak offensive players either. I think Seth and Kobe might score a bit more than expected.


    #1.  Stevenson

    #2. Mitchell

Viewing 4 posts - 1 through 4 (of 4 total)
  • You must be logged in to reply to this topic.

Home Page forums Who Will Lead Scoring Effort For WVU Men’s Hoops?

Home Page forums Who Will Lead Scoring Effort For WVU Men’s Hoops?