Perhaps the biggest of which is what approach on offense the Mountaineers will take. WVU lost its leading scorer in Jaysean Paige and top rebounder in Devin Williams. That also eliminated a major perimeter threat and the primary option on the inside, as the Mountaineers attempted to run inside-out sets. The fill-in names are obvious in Elijah Macon and increased production from a series of players in forward Esa Ahmad and guards Jevon Carter, Tarik Phillip, Daxter Miles and Beetle Bolden. Bolden, back off an ACL tear, has performed well in the preseason thus far, and will get his first chance to showcase his skill set in front of fans in WVU's Gold-Blue Debut, held Thursday at 7 p.m. inside WesBanco Arena in Wheeling, W.Va.
Bolden was slated for significant playing time last year before injuring the knee and missing the entire season. The redshirt freshman is expected to add depth to the position behind Phillip, Still a svelte 6-0, 160 pounds, Bolden was able to add a bit of needed upper body bulk during the offseason, and has been adjusting to the contact in the initial practices as he looks to lock into his distribution role.
"I've been trying to get in the gym early, get my legs going and get back to doing the things I usually do," he said. "I feel great. Back to myself. I don't think about (the knee) at all. I'm going to try to look to run the offense and distribute the ball and score when I need to. We've been going hard at each other in practice, kind of beating each other up to get used to taking the contact and not turning the ball over. Making better decisions as point guards, that's our job and coach Huggs told us to do that and look to cut down on turnovers this year."
Bolden noted that he expects West Virginia to have a balanced look this season, both in the operation of the offense and on the score sheet. With a first look at what that might resemble forthcoming, head coach Bob Huggins said anticipates the Debut to benefit some of the players, like Bolden, who have not played in front of sizable crowds.
"I think maybe we assume sometimes that they are more comfortable than what they really are," Huggins said. "I think it helps them all get more comfortable. I think they are looking forward to it. We drill a lot, and to let them just run up and down the floor and play, I think they are really looking forward to it."
West Virginia will hold a 30-minute officiated game and an autograph session with players afterward. Admission is free; gates open at 6 p.m.