UAM has just two returning starters in senior point guard and preseason All-GSC selection Orlando Hampton and senior power forward Dennis Harris. Those two give UAM a respectable offensive threat, but the lack of any rebounding forces put the Boll Weevils at a mismatch against any team with size and strength in the paint.
Off the bench, forward Jun McClain has provided some scoring punch, but the well-travelled Weevils simply don't have the offesnive ability to get into an up and down game with foes.
The reverse of that coin is just as dismal - UAM also has trouble in the halfcourt game with their undersized front line. Only three players top the 6-7 mark, so battles in the lane and on the boards often go the opponents' way.
WVU's Josh Yeager vs. UAM's Cedric Pellum and Dennis Harris
The upcoming stretch of games provides a chance for the Mountaineers to build on their early season success, and no one could benefit more than forward Josh Yeager. It's not that Josh has done much wrong this year - we'd just like to see him do a little more and be more aggressive in looking for his shot.
|WVU 0-0, 3-0
UAM 0-0, 0-6
|Sat 12/1 7:00 PM|
|Series: First Meeting|
|RPI: WVU-82 UAM-NA|
When the Mountaineers face teams like Georgetown, Pitt and Syracuse, you can bet they will try to muscle Yeager inside. Josh must use his talents to turn that disadvantage into an advantage. He will have to take those players outside and shoot over them, and force opposing coaches to adjust their lineups to him. If he can't achieve that on a consistent basis, WVU will be forced to alter their lineup, instead of the other way around.
Against Arkansas Monticello, Josh has to look for his shot and get comfortable in that role. All of the Boll Weevils' forwards are in the 6-5 range, so Yeager should be able to get his shot off comfortably. In addition to taking the open shots created by the penetration of Jonathan Hargett, Jay Hewitt and Drew Schifino, we want Josh to fire a couple with a defender in his face. Once he knocks a couple of those down, he will become a much more dangerous part of the Mountaineer attack.
Let's face it - this isn't a team WVU should be playing. WVU was forced to scramble to find a late substitute for another opponent that backed out of a deal, so the Mountaineers are stuck with the Boll Weevils this Saturday.
By the time WVU faces UAM, the Boll Weevils could be road kill. Seven straight road games against Division 1 opponents, inclduing a hideous bus trip from Arkansas to West Virginia, will likely have UAM reeling.
We hope that WVU will end this game early so they can work on their presses, their rotation at the center position, and any other rough edges that head coach Gale Catlett has in mind.
We anticipate seeing a lot of different defensive looks for West Virginia, especially the Catlett trademark of different presses after free throws and field goals. Evaluating the effectiveness of that work will be another matter, as the level of competition certainly won't be that of Big East opponents.
Look for UAM to pack in a zone against the taller more physical Mountaineers - but we don't think it will make much difference.
The Boll Weevils have played an All-Division 1 schedule so far, and are paying for it with their 0-6 record. UAM won the Western Division of the Gulf South Conference last year, but are picked no higher than fifth in that same division this season.
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The Boll Weevils have no fewer than nine players on their roster that attended either a junior college or another university before coming to UAM.
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Rebounding is often the key to winning basketball games, but two undefeated Big East clubs (WVU and Syracuse) are on the negative side of the rebound ledger. The Mountaineers are -1.3 in rebounding margin, while the Cuse is -2.5. Which just goes to show, there are lies, damn lies, and statistics.
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The Big East is the top ranked conference in the RPI at this point of the season, yet radio talk shows and even those covering the Big East continue to sqwak about the ACC, the Big Ten and the SEC. Why is it that when the Big East is down in the rankings that much attention is paid, but when the conference rises it's almost ignored?