Observations and Analysis From West Virginia's Gold-Blue Debut

WHEELING, W.Va. - West Virginia made its initial public appearance Thursday at the Gold-Blue Debut. Here's some odds, ends and outtakes from the scrimmage.

The Mountaineers divided into two teams for the debut, with Chase HarlerTarik PhillipEsa AhmadBrandon Watkins, Beatle BoldenSagaba Konate and Daxter Miles on the Gold. Teyvon MyersJames LongJevon CarterNathan AdrianLamont WestElijah Macon and Maciej Bender played for the Blue. Assistant Erik Martin coached the Gold, with Ron Everhart mentoring the Blue. Forward Logan Routt was in a boot and did not play.

  • Harler, a Wheeling native, received the biggest applause during introductions. 
  • Jevon Carter hit the first shot of the game, a step-back three over Myers, and would make his first two in a row. He was answered by Bolden and Miles on the other end, as the points piled up rapidly. Gold led Blue 40-23 at the half, and largely controlled play at both ends.
  • Phillip was a ball hawk all game. The guard repeatedly stepped into passing lanes for easy steals and breakouts going the other way. Part of the issue was telegraphed passes, but Phillip also showed great instincts and quickness.
  • Konate made his initial appearance at the 15:57 mark, subbing for Watkins. Harler also entered at that time. Bender came in one minute later. Konate moves adequately, and has the size needed to play on the interior in the Big 12. He simply needs to hone some of his skill set. Bender is, of now, primarily a shooter, and often got easily cleared out of the lane by smaller players.
  • It appears as though Bolden trusts the knee after the ACL tear before last season. But the redshirt freshman lacks the lateral movement and quickness of Carter, Phillip and Miles. He's also getting pushed off the ball some because of a lack of bulk and strength. His build is noticeably smaller, and he simply needs time in the weight room.
  • Watkins took a spill on the floor at the 11-minute mark and immediately went to the bench. The forward was looked at by the medical staff for several minutes but did return four minutes later.
  • Harler can shoot it from distance. He shows a nice touch and understanding of situation and spacing, and he plays a bit bigger than he is.
  • Adrian is running the floor as well as he ever has. The senior still displays the passing ability and floor vision that makes him a favorite for distribution from a big man.
  • Bolden hit a twisting lay-up on the run and was fouled by Carter for a three-point play. The guard has a quick stroke at the line, but it's fluid. 
  • Konate appears able to physically match the majority of forwards in the Big 12. His experience level is where any liabilities will surface.
  • Macon hustled while running the floor, but never freed himself up for passes or shots as much as one would expect.
  • Play was sloppy for much of the game. Much of that was because the team was fractured, but some of it was players operating outside the system. WVU ran mainly five-out motion early, then started to try and get the ball into the low blocks as the game wore on.
  • Head coach Bob Huggins noted that West Virginia has primarily drilled in practice, and that the debut was among the first times the team would be able to continuously run the floor. That also likely contributed to the high number of turnovers.
  • Ahmad continues to show steady progression in nearly every phase. He hit shots over smaller players, drove past others and showed the ability to pass on the move. He also committed a pair of turnovers by trying to do too much, but that was essentially the theme of the game.
  • The halftime was just 10 minutes, and the teams used a 10-minute clock for the second half.
  • Phillip's body control under pressure and while driving is very solid. The guard rarely leaves his feet too early and understands angles and how to seal defenders. There's a reason he's picked first when the team chooses sides for a scrimmage.
  • Miles hit a nice putback dunk over West early in the second half.
  • Macon showed exceptional effort on one possession in the second half, grabbing a pair of rebounds and dishing out for an open three. He finished the trip with a putback bucket, and ended up with nine rebounds.
  • Myers favored his right arm for much of the game. He seems uncomfortable, and shows the issue when he's running.
  • Watkins was stretched out following his fall, and seemed to tighten up as the game progressed. He was removed over the final five minutes.
  • Ahmad was often pitted against Bender - who is still lacking on defense - but it took until late in the second half for Ahmad to begin exploiting the match-up.
  • West drilled a final three to get the Blue within 10 late as the Gold won 55-45. The attendance was 4,207.
  • Stat leaders as follows: Points - Adrian 19, Carter 12, West and Macon each with six for the Blue. Bolden 12, Phillip 8, three others with seven for the Gold. Rebounds - Macon 9, Bolden 7, Miles 6, Adrian 5. Assists - Phillip 4, Carter and Harler both with 2.  The Blue shot 39.5 percent, the Gold 57.1. Blue, however, hit seven threes to Gold's 3-for-12 outside shooting. Gold committed 11 turnovers to Blue's nine.

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