The Mountaineers, having arrived here on Monday evening, have held closed practice sessions at Darmen College, a former NAIA and current Division II program just outside Buffalo in Amhurt, N.Y. The four-year liberal arts college has an enrollment of 3,000, and an annual cost of $24,990. The Wildcats went 19-9 overall this season before being eliminated in the second round of the East Coast Conference Tournament. The basketball facilities at Lumsden Gymnasium are solid, and designed to serve multiple needs for women's and men's basketball, volleyball and cheerleading.
The team had no issues with road conditions due to earlier travel, but the in-town conditions in Buffalo are currently poor. The interstates are passable, but even the main roads in town are snow-covered and slick. Roads surrounding the arena have been cleared, but the constant blustery winds and conditions keep blowing the snow back onto roadways. The Mountaineers are staying 20 minutes north of Buffalo, but that travel as taken a bit longer due to road conditions. The drive from Erie to Buffalo on I-90 along Lake Erie were decent earlier today, with the roads at times mostly wet. But portions remain snow covered, and the off ramps were slick.
- WVU will hold its open-to-the-public shoot around/practice from 2:15-2:55 today at the KeyBank Center, home of the NHL's Buffalo Sabres. The facility holds 19,200 for basketball. At 20 years old, it has held up well, with great sight lines and amenities in a great location in town. Princeton, Bucknell and Notre Dame all practiced before West Virginia (see video above for a glimpse at Bucknell.)
- Bucknell's players were well aware of the physicality and pressure they would face against WVU. Guard Stephen Brown compared the Mountaineers' style to that of Manhattan, who the Bison defeated in the first game of the season, and Mt. St. Mary's, whom West Virginia also played this season. "Early on, we played teams that pressured," Brown said. "Manhattan, Mt. St. Mary's pressure a bit. Then (Patriot League) pressured here and there. Just being smart with the ball, looking for outlets and the coaches do a really good job of preparing us. Going into it, I feel like we're really prepared for what they have for us."
- Brown noted Bucknell's biggest progression was on defense, where the Bison (26-8) have vastly improved in the halfcourt. "I think we did a good job of focusing on the defensive end," Brown said. "Knowing their roles, knowing their spots. Just being more scrappy, guarding our guy, guarding the ball, guarding screens. It's really helped us on the season."
- Quick hitters: West Virginia is making its 28th appearance in the NCAA Championship, dating back to 1955. • WVU is 2-0 in NCAA Tournament play in Buffalo (2010). WVU then went to Syracuse and advanced to the Final Four. • This is WVU’s eighth NCAA appearance in the last 10 years and 10th appearance in the last 13 seasons. • WVU has reached the Sweet 16 in six of its last 10 NCAA appearances (2015, 2010, 2008, 2006, 2005 and 1998). • West Virginia is 21-11 in postseason games (9 NCAA and 3 NIT) in its last 12 appearances. • WVU has made 13 postseason appearances in the last 14 years, including the NCAA Final Four in 2010
- Bucknell Notes: Bucknell is 26-8 overall and finished 15-3 in the regular season in the Patriot League. • The Bison earned an automatic bid by winning the Patriot League with wins over Army, Navy and Lehigh. • The Bison were 9-6 on the road and 2-0 on neutral courts. • Nathan Davis is in his second season at Bucknell where he holds a 43-22 record. He is 184-61 in eight years overall.
- The series: West Virginia and Bucknell will meet for the ninth time in series play that began in 1923. • West Virginia has won all eight meetings in the series. • The last meeting took place on Jan. 3, 1977, a 112-71 WVU win in Morgantown. Coach Bob Huggins scored 14 points in the win for the Mountaineers. • West Virginia is 36-21 against current members of the Patriot League: American (4-1), Army (6-8), Boston University (2-0), Bucknell (8-0), Colgate (1-3), Holy Cross (1-0), Lafayette (2-2), Lehigh (4-0), Loyola Maryland (2-0) and Navy (6-7).
- Check back at BlueGoldNews.com for more, including upcoming interviews, videos and photos, as well as news and notes, from West Virginia's sessions.