The Times West Virginian

WVU Sports

November 12, 2012

WVU set for revenge tonight vs. Gonzaga

MORGANTOWN — West Virginia University’s men’s basketball team opens its 2012-13 season late tonight in a game they have waited a long time to play.

The Mountaineers will take the court at 11:59 p.m. to face Gonzaga, the team that ended their last season in the most inglorious of fashions, dropping a 77-52 bomb on them in the first round of the NCAA Tournament, the worst postseason defeat the Mountaineers had suffered in 28 years.

What’s more, that game was played just up the road in Pittsburgh, not 3,000 miles away as this game will be in Spokane, Wash.

The taste of the NCAA defeat was a bitter one and has lingered all through the offseason.

“I don’t lose very well,” coach Bob Huggins said following his team’s exhibition victory over Glenville State, one of two preps they had to get ready for the game. The other was a closed scrimmage against Xavier, the results of which are not public.

Asked if he likes playing Gonzaga again, Huggins answered:

“There’s a whole lot of people I’d like to play again ... like 14 of them.”

He was referring to the losses that mounted throughout a 19-14 season, none worse than the Gonzaga loss.

“That was embarrassing,” Huggins said.

West Virginia had not lost a postseason game like that since dropping an NCAA meeting to Maryland in 1984 by 25 points. That was in the Gale Catlett era.

“I’ve never gotten beat like that,” Huggins said following last March’s game. “We just were never in the game. Shouldn’t say ‘never.’ Maybe a couple times. But not very well. I don’t know. Have to figure it out.”

It was a sour goodbye to WVU seniors Kevin Jones, who had 13 points in that game, and Truck Bryant, who suffered through a dismal performance, not hitting a shot in the first half and finishing 2 for 10.

This year there’s a new cast, the Mountaineers adding three transfers who are expected to have a huge impact, beginning with point guard Juwan Staten from Dayton, center Aaric Murray from LaSalle and double-transfer Matt Humphrey from Oregon and Boston College.

Staten runs the team and will work in the backcourt with Jabarie Hinds, Murray is an athletic shot blocker and scorer and Humphrey is a shooting forward who can score from anywhere.

They will join Deniz Kilicli, who brings his inside scoring and charisma, and a number of other athletic front-court players like Keaton Miles and Kevin Rutledge, to say nothing of backup point guard Gary Browne.

Whether or not the team is ready for such a challenge so early, with so many new faces, is questionable, but there’s no time like the present to find out.

“I don’t know how it would turn out if we played today,” Staten said of the rematch with Gonzaga following the Glenville State exhibition. “I’m glad the game is not today and we still have a couple of days to prepare.”

Huggins certainly wasn’t pleased with what he saw in the Glenville game.

“Obviously, we’re not ready for Gonzaga,” he said.

But he was eager to see just how his team would play.

“We’ll go out there and play like crazy, and when we get done at least we’ll know what we have to fix. By the end of that game we’ll know how good we are ... or how bad we are,” he said.

Obviously, he could have chosen an easier opener to get his team’s feet wet, but he didn’t feel that was the right way to approach it.

“I’d rather (go to Gonzaga) than schedule five games we win by 30 or 40 and you’ve masked your problems,” he said.

He had done this before, opening in 2002 at the new arena in Oklahoma City and losing a double-figure decision.

“It seemed like we lost by 106 points, the way we played,” he said. “We had a meeting and did some soul searching. Some guys questioned other guys’ fortitude. I questioned a lot of guys’ fortitude and we won 21 games in a row, but we knew what we had to fix. We’ll find out real quick where our issues are and we’ll go ahead and fix them.”

In a way, WVU is catching one break. Gonzaga junior forward Kelly Olynyk, a redshirt last season, is suspended for the game. Unfortunately for the Mountaineers, Przemek Karnowski is not. He is a 7-foot-1, 305-pound center from Poland, and he joins veterans Elias Harris, Kevin Pangos and Gary Bell Jr. Gonzaga also has John Stockton’s son David back from the team that pounded WVU last year.

Email Bob Hertzel at bhertzel@hotmail.com or follow him on Twitter @bhertzel.

1
Text Only
WVU Sports
  • Bussie looks forward to WNBA

    On Tuesday, the weather turned cold, the wind blew and amongst the raindrops that fell a few snowflakes fluttered quietly to Earth.
    It was as if it was a celebration of Asya Bussie being drafted on Monday night by the Minnesota Lynx, champions of the WNBA, with the third selection of the second round, the 15th overall pick of the draft.

    April 16, 2014

  • WVU’s Harlee named Big 12 Scholar-Athlete

    The Big 12 Conference announced its Scholar-Athlete of the Year recipients for the 2014 winter sport season, and West Virginia University senior Jess Harlee earns the honor for women’s basketball.
    Harlee was selected as the award winner based on a vote of each respective sport’s head coaching group, with coaches not permitted to vote for their own student-athletes.

    April 16, 2014

  • Gyorko, Padres agree to extension

    Jedd Gyorko, who hasn’t hit much of anything with a .178 start on this season, hit the jackpot on Monday, signing a six-year contract extension with the San Diego Padres for $35 million with a one-year club option at $13 million.

    April 15, 2014

  • HERTZEL COLUMN- Spring game showed defense has improved

    From Dana Holgorsen’s viewpoint, which was standing right behind the offense, West Virginia’s Gold-Blue Spring Game on Saturday was a rousing success for it showed very little of what the Mountaineers will be in this coming season, probably not even showcasing the man who will direct the offense in the quarterback position.

    April 15, 2014

  • WVU signs guard; Adrian arrested for DUI

    There was something good and something bad for West Virginia men’s basketball coach Bob Huggins this past weekend as Kansas junior college player Tarik Phillip committed to play for the Mountaineers but rising sophomore Nathan Adrian was charged with Under 21 DUI after he was stopped at 1:20 a.m. Sunday for an expired registration sticker.

    April 15, 2014

  • FURFARI COLUMN- Most plays good, some not so good in Gold-Blue scrimmage

    There appeared to be a fine mixture of plays, most good with some not so good, in last Saturday’s West Virginia University’s Gold-Blue football scrimmage.

    April 15, 2014

  • HERTZEL COLUMN- Garrison still proving he can carry the ball

    The running back raves from the West Virginia coaching this spring have been directly mostly toward Wendell Smallwood, and rest assured he earned every one of them with his versatility, but it was a reborn running back who well may have taken the biggest jump up the depth chart.

    April 14, 2014

  • WVU baseball drops seventh straight game

    One’s athletic skills are tested on a daily basis but every so often other aspects of an athlete’s makeup are tested, often far more important aspects in the game of life.

    April 14, 2014

  • Gold-Blue Game answers few questions at quarterback

    Dana Holgorsen finds himself in a quarterback quandary.
    He’s looking to have one quarterback and has five of them as spring practice ends, and nothing about the spring session has done anything to straighten out the situation.

    April 13, 2014

  • Moore ‘back at home’ under center

    There are a couple of ways to look at what Logan Moore did this spring after being moved back to quarterback and given a chance to compete for what is a wide open job, as wide open at the end of the spring as it was coming in.
    The first is to say that he didn’t wow Dana Holgorsen to the point that he’s willing to say he’s the leader going into summer drills, but that would be shortsighted considering from where Moore came.

    April 13, 2014

Featured Ads
WVU Sports Highlights
NDN Sports
House Ads
NCAA Breaking News
NCAA Photos