Absences Affect Early Basketball Practices

Going into practice, head basketball coach Gale Catlett knew that he would be missing Tim Lyles, and had made adjustments to compensate for his absence.

Catlett did not expect, however, to be minus the services of incoming freshman guard Drew Schifino, who is still awaiting approval from the NCAA Clearinghouse.

"I guess frustrated is the best term to describe it," said Catlett of Schifino's absence. "It seems like every time we talk to them (the Clearinghouse) that they request more information."

The problems with Schifino's approval apparently stem from his mid term switch from Bridgton Academy to Coastal Christian, and are compounded by the fact that a counselor from Coastal Christian has left that school. The Clearinghouse deals with counselors at schools for information on courses and classes.

"Our compliance officer, Brad Cox, has been in contact with them every day, and we still hope to get him approved," Catlett said of his freshman guard.

With Schifino in limbo, walkons have taken on a more important role in filling out the roster for practice. Catlett would like to have 14 players available for practice, and with Lyles and Schifino sidelined WVU is already down to 11.

Various combinations of the best players to come out of Saturday's tryouts (approximately 20-30 players participated) have been used over the first couple of practices, and Catlett says that the final number to make the team will depend on Schifino's situation.

"We'll probably keep two if Schifino practices. If he doesn't we'll probably have three, and there's an outside chance we'll have four," Catlett said. "If you ask me to explain that formula to you, I really can't, but that's what our coaching staff has come up with to make our practices run smoothly." Four walkons took part in Saturday's practice session.

For the players on the floor, Catlett expressed more optimism than in recent preseasons. He said he "doesn't have to worry" about freshman point guard Jonathan Hargett, and that forward Chris Moss and guard Lionel Armstead are in excellent shape.

"I couldn't ask them to be any further along than they are right now, in my opinion. they look good. Very good. I'd be very surprised if Moss and Armstead don't have big years if they stay injury free.

Catlett also noted that Saturday's practice was the best opening practice he has ever had as a head caoch. And while Sunday's practice "didn't have as much zip", Catlett was still generally pleased with the start his team has gotten.

The early starting lineup shows Jay Hewitt at the one, Lionel Armstead at the two, Josh Yeager at the three, Chris Moss at the four and John Oliver at the five. There have been other combinations already tried, and several permutations are expected before WVU's first exhibition game on November 3rd.

BlueGoldNews Top Stories