The West Virginia University men’s basketball team starts its 2006-07 season Friday night against Mount St. Mary’s.

Tip-off time is 7 o’clock at the Coliseum.

“Game experience, there’s nothing like it,” coach John Beilein said Thursday afternoon. “We start getting it earlier than ever.

“With a young group, I’d like to have one more week (of practice). But we might as well throw it up and starting running.”

The Mountaineers do have a scrimmage or two under their belts and an 81-54 exhibition victory over Fairmont State’s Falcons.

Beilein has spotted some positives.

“I thought we ran really well (vs. FSU),” he said. “I think that we sprinted the floor really well.

“There was a lot of confusion out there, and there should be. But I was very pleased with our sharing the ball (22 assists on 29 field goals) and liked our rebounding (40-26).

“I think our teamwork will be good. I really do. I think we’ll probably play a lot of different defenses this year.”

Beilein, in his fifth year here, also believes this young team has the potential to be a very good man-to-man defensive team.

Frank Young, 6-5 senior forward, and Darris Nichols, 6-2 junior point guard, are the two players that WVU will look to mostly when in need.

Young had 15 points and four rebounds and Nichols nine assists, nine points and five rebounds in the exhibition game.

Joe Alexander, 6-8 sophomore forward, tallied a game-high 17 points and also pulled down a team-best seven rebounds in 27 minutes.

Rob Summers, 7-0 senior center, and Alex Ruoff, 6-6 sophomore guard, will round out the starting lineup.

Young said, “We have to have the mentality that we’re back to being the hunters and not the hunted. So we’ve got to try to win as many games as we can and not take anybody lightly.”

WVU lost five of its top six players from last year’s team that posted a 22-11 record and advanced to the NCAA tournament’s round of Sweet 16.

Nichols said, “We saw a lot of positives in film of the Fairmont State exhibition. As a young team, we still have a lot of things to work on.

“But I didn’t realize we were that athletic to get up and down the floor like we did.”

Holdovers on this team have scored only 634 total points previously. Just two WVU teams had fewer points entering a season.

The one in 1973 had 231 points and the 1999 club had 488 points.

This is WVU’s third meeting with Mount St. Mary’s. The latter was 13-17 last season, including 11-7 in the Northeast Conference.

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