Looking for the Filling

WVU will have a tough time identifying their center rotation before conference play begins.

The Mountaineer basketball team has quickly developed depth with the combination of experienced veterans and talented newcomenrs, but one position still remains in flux.

That spot, of course, is the five, where senior John Oliver is looking for some help, especially when conference games begin in January.

Oliver has given the Mountaineers about what was expected coming in to the season. Oliver shows seven points, four rebounds and 11 fouls in three games thus far, with those 11 fouls coming in just 52 minutes of actions. That's more than a foul every five minutes, so unless that ratio improves it will be tough to count on Oliver for more than 15 or so minutes per game.

WVU will look to fill the remainder of those minutes with either Chris Garnett or Ales Chan, both of whom are averaging about five minutes per game, but they will face a handicap throughout most of the month of December.

That stumbling block will be WVU opponents. Most of West Virginia's January foes, with the exception of Tennessee and Arizona, will play small lineups with front lines much smaller than WVU's. Those mismatches in size might allow Garnett or Chan to rack up a few numbers, but it won't give a true indication of how they will play defensively against the rugged centers of the Big East. Matching up Garnett or Chan against a 6-8 quick center might do more harm than good, especially in the long term.

Head coach Gale Catlett will be faced with some interesting long term strategy decisions as he decides on his lineups and combinations for the next few games, but however it shakes out, don't expect the center spot to be settled until January at the earlies.

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