SCOUTING THE RED FOXES
Marist enters the Old Spice Classic with a 1-2 record, having knocked off Columbia in the season opener before dropping decisions to Colgate and Stony Brook. The Red Foxes return all five of their starters and 14 letter-winners from a year ago. They are led by senior guard Devin Price, who is averaging 14.3 points per outing and is a threat that must be accounted for from long range. His partner in the backcourt, T.J. Curry, is more of a distributor, tallying 4.0 assists per contest, but he can knock down jumpers if left unattended. Off the bench, Isaiah Martin (5.3 ppg) and Manny Thomas provide the bulk of backcourt support, but neither is a fearsome scorer or offensive threat.
Up front, center Adam Kemp averages a double-double with 11 points and 10 rebounds per contest, while forward Chavaughn Lewis adds 10.7 points and another 5.3 boards per outing. Kemp is a go-to guy, shooting 53% from the field and providing the bulk of interior defense with five blocks. Lewis is a lower percentage shooter who has also struggled handling the ball, having suffered 10 turnovers to date.
The starting trio is rounded out by Jay Bowie, who contributes a solid 8.7 points and 5.3 rebounds. Backups Eric Truog and Dorvell Carter have been mostly minutes-eaters, combining for just 4.0 points and 3.5 rebounds per game.
Overall, the Red Foxes have a respectable starting lineup, but depth is definitely an issue. If they are forced to go to their bench for extended minutes, there's a significant talent drop-off that will be difficult to overcome.
This game isn't about match-ups or scouting reports. It's about the buy-in of West Virginia's team – something we've already seen and discussed with the football program this year.
That's not to disrespect Marist, which has some respectable players. However, WVU has more talent, more height, more almost everything. It should win the game. But will it win in a way that shows it has responded to the lessons Bob Huggins is trying to teach?
|Thu Nov 22
HP Field House
With the football team this year, we've seen questions about the dedication of everyone on the roster. Coaches and players alike have wondered if everyone is playing for the good of the team, and playing with maximum effort. Huggins has voiced similar concerns after just one game, so its clear that he sees a problem developing. He has to find a way to nip that before it blossoms into a garden full of weeds.
Will West Virginia pass the ball? Will it run offense, or just dribble away the shot clock and go one-on-one? Will it play with intensity for the entire game, or just mount a ten-minute effort as it did in its opener?
In this game, the score won't be the telling factor – unless, of course, WVU gets upset. What will be instructive is the way in which West Virginia plays the game. Tossing the ball around the perimeter and launching bad shots isn't what Huggins wants, but it's what he got in the ugly 34-point beatdown at Gonzaga. He reinforced his wishes during the ten days since with a number of motivational and personal ploys – but in the end, it's the team that has to assimilate those lessons and demonstrate them on the court.
West Virginia is expected to again start Matt Humphrey in the search for more shooting and scoring power from the outset of the game. WVU made just three of its 26 three-point attempts against Gonzaga, bringing up reminders of last year's poor-shooting team. Look for a quick hook and freshmen Terry Henderson or Eron Harris if Humphrey (1-7) can't get things going.
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West Virginia did show some early fight on the offensive boards, collecting 18 against Gonzaga. How much of that was due to the Mountaineers' poor shooting, however, remains to be seen. WVU missed 40 shots from the field against the Bulldogs.
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The Red Foxes have been a bit loose with the ball through their first three games, having turned it over 45 times against just 33 assists. Look for West Virginia to ramp up defensive pressure in the backcourt against a team that it should be able to harass into some ballhandling mistakes.
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Marist went 2-1 in the 2006 Old Spice Classic, including a win over Minnesota. That successful start was a springboard to a 14-4 mark in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference and an NIT win over Oklahoma State. That win accounts for their only meeting with a Big 12 school prior to today's game.