Basketball Preview - Small Forwards

We continue our preseason basketball overview with a study of the small forward position.

West Virginia will offer opponents a study in contrasts at the three position, and that versatility figures to cause some matchup problems for those coaches matching wits with head coach Gale Catlett this year.

The inside track for the three position belongs to incumbent Josh Yeager. Yeager has grown another inch during the offseason, and has also added a bit of muscle to his wiry frame. While Yeager won't be a banger by any means, every additional bit will help as he battles as WVU's third rebounder.

Yeager's forte, of course, is shooting. His major goal for this year is to develop a "shooter's mentality". That is, if he misses three or four shots in a row, he shouldn't pass up his next open look. WVU needs another consistent three point threat to complement Lionel Armstead, and a 6-8 Yeager shooting over zones from the opposite side of the court would be a godsend for the Mountaineers.

Tyrone Sally
Yeager will be pushed by incoming 6-7 freshman Tyrone Sally, who is more of a slasher on offense. Sally has a solid mid range jumpshot, but will first rely on his driving and transition skills to score points.

Sally will also be counted on to provide help in West Virginia's pressure defenses. While Yeager's length is a plus in trapping defenses, Sally's superior quickness should give him some playing time when West Virginia is using full court defenses.

As with any talented newcomer, Sally's playing time will greatly depend on how quickly he can assimilate the offensive and defensive schemes. Once that task is accomplished, figure on seeing Sally and Yeager establishing an effective one-two punch at the three position.

Those two players aren't the only options at the three spot. Forward Chaz Briggs, who is getting a look as Chris Moss' backup at power forward, also figures to swing down to the three on occasion. We'll talk more about Briggs in our power forward overview, but he has the quickness to play the three position, and , in fact, might be better suited physically to that spot.

If WVU needs to go to a smaller lineup with more ball handling skills, Jay Hewitt could also see a stint at the three. Although Hewitt will primarily be a point guard, his versatility should allow him to see some time at other positions as well, especially late in the game.

The major challenge for the players at this position to master is rebounding. WVU will be at a physical disadvantage against many of the small forwards they face in the Big East. Some opponents will be appreciably stronger and bulkier, while others will simply be taller. With WVU already a bit undersized at the four position, help is needed from the three spot on the boards.

Neither Yeager nor Sally are physical players, so they will have to use a combination of quickness and positioning to grab their share of boards. Their success in that task looms as one of the most critical of their assignments.

Up next: Power Forwards

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