SCOUTING THE HATTERS
Stetson is 0-2 on the young season, with losses to Richmond and the Citadel, but look capable of putting up plenty of points. The Hatters (love that nickname!) are averaging 89 points per outing while hitting better than 51% from the field and nearly 40% from three.
Sophomore guard Divine Myles (the name game is strong at this school) leads a quite balanced scoring attack with 14 points per outing. He gets support from three other starters in double figures, including 6-3 guard Harvey Cameron (13.0 ppg), 6-7 swingman Brian Pegg (12.5) and 6-7 forward Derrick Newton (12.0) Sub guard Luke Doyle makes it five Hatters in double figures with 11.5 points per outing.
While Stetson can put the ball in the hoop, it has trouble rebounding and defending. Outside of Pegg, who completes an early double-double average with 13.5 board per game, no one is averaging more than five, which results in a -5.5 rebounding margin. Add in a porous performance on the defensive end of the court, which allows foes to make 56% of their shots, and Stetson has come up short twice despite scoring enough points to win.
The Hatters are guard and swingman heavy, as only Pegg gives them much of a scoring threat in the lane or rebounding presence. They do move the ball well on the perimeter, and will take advantage of open shots early in the offense, but unless they are on-target up and down the lineup, their defensive deficiencies will make it difficult to move up from their eighth-place finish in the Atlantic Sun conference a year ago.
It's a game of six degrees of separation for the Mountaineers, who are facing something of a connected schedule early in the year. Stetson lost to Richmond, which lost to James Madison, which lost to WVU, so the transitive properties of logic would dictate this as a Mountaineer win.
We all know that's often a dangerous proposition, but this is another of those games that is more about West Virginia than any potential match-ups. The Mountaineers got a good test from James Madison on Monday night in Charleston, and will get several more in the remaining 2015 games, but this one isn't on that list. However, that fact makes something of a test in its own right – can the Mountaineers handle business early and put the game away, and then maintain their foot on the gas and play efficiently in the second half? The runaway wins over Glenville State and Northern Kentucky were missing the latter aspect of play, so that's one item to keep an eye on.
Another factor to track is the play of Jevon Carter at point. He has put aside concerns about his ability to provide scoring punch while manning that position, and has been good in keeping the ball moving. While head coach Bob Huggins hasn't been overflowing with praise for his sophomore starter, he has be satisfied with the way in which Carter continues to progress. That's also evident in the way that Huggins handled a Carter miscue in the James Madison game. After making a bad decision on a pass, Huggins whirled to the bench and immediately got a sub in for the Illinois native. However, Carter's time on the bench was measured in seconds, not minutes, as he got back in at the next dead ball. That, as much as anything, demonstrates Huggins trust in a player, and in his ability to make the right call the next time. Keep track of those situations during this game – which guys, upon getting the hook for a mistake, re-enter the game quickly?
West Virginia should be able to impose its physical will on Stetson in this game – the Hatters don't foul a lot and have been to the free throw line just 23 total times in its two games. That doesn't mean they will back down, but the just aren't equipped to handle strong moves in the post or aggressive traps. They'll try to counter by moving the ball quickly, but as coach after opposing coach notes, it's difficult to simulate West Virginia's press in practices and get meaningful work in countering it.
Stetson has no seniors and just three juniors on its roster, making it one of the youngest Division I teams in the nation. This is the second season in a row that Stetson will not have a senior on its team. Six freshmen dot the Hatters roster.
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WVU is 1-1 all-time against, the DeLand, Fla., based Hatters, who are indeed named for the inventor of the famed cowboy chapeau, John B. Stetson. The school was originally named DeLand Academy before renaming itself in honor of Stetson, who donated large sums of money to the school.
The Mountaineers defeated Stetson in the Coliseum during the 1981-82 season, but dropped a return road visit during the following campaign. The Mountaineers have the chance to move their all-time record to the right side of .500 against both Stetson and Eastern Kentucky (also currently 1-1) this year.
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Devin Williams and Jonathan Holton will be trying to become the first duo to record three consecutive double-doubles since Bob Benfield and high-leaping Carl Head turned the trick in 1967. WVU last had two players record double-doubles in back-to-back games in 2009 when Devin Ebanks and Da'Sean Butler filled their points and rebounding columns with double digits.
Against Penn State, Richmond and George Washington, Head went for 13 points and 11 rebound, 33-10 and 26-10, respectively. Benfield recorded totals of 16-15, 10-11 and 19-18. Benfield had 12 double-doubles that year, including a streak of six in a row, while Head had 13 double-doubles.
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West Virginia has allowed just 42 field goals while forcing 49 turnovers so far this year.