The Terriers feature a solid backcourt, with guards Chris Pugh (Jr., 6-2, 170 lbs.) and Brian Hodges (So., 6-3, 200 lbs.) holding down the starting spots. Pugh averages 8.6 points per game and directs the offense, while Hodges is second on the team with 11.4 points per game. He's not very efficient, however, as he is shooting just 25.4% from the field. Hodges has taken 12 more shots than any other player on the team.
Up front, forward John Zito is the strength of the team. Zito (Sr., 6-4, 220 lbs.) uses his strength to get in close for good shots, and also owns 13 offensive rebounds, which adds to his offensive game. He totals15.0 points and 7.5 rebounds per game to lead the team in both categories. Zito did not play against Delaware due to a sprained ankle, and his status is questionable for the WVU game.
Playing opposite Zito is Jerrell Dinkins (Sr., 6-5, 225 lbs.) who benefits from the attention paid his senior counterpart. Dinkins averages 10.4 points and 5.8 rebounds per game, and is one of the better shooters on what is overall a poor shooting Retriever squad. Center Chris Timba (Fr., 6-10, 255 lbs.) is a starter in name only, averaging just seven minutes per game, and could yield his spot to forward Mike Housman.
Off the bench, five players average more minutes than Timba. Housman (Jr., 6-6, 220 lbs.) is the best of the lot, averaging 7.2 points and 4.0 rebounds per game while shooting better than 65% from the field. Also getting appreciable minutes are guards Jay Greene (Fr., 5-8, 155 lbs.) and Tom Young (Fr., 6-3, 185 lbs.). That pair combines for more than 13 points per game while spelling the starters in the backcourt.
Look for West Virginia to work on a number of different defenses in this game against the poor shooting Retrievers, who average just 41.2% from the field and 63.6% from the line. The Mountaineers must find another set to complement their shifting 1-3-1 zone, which is effective, but not overpowering, against teams with patient backcourts. WVU must get either its man-to-man or 2-3 zone in shape for the Big East wars to come, and this game will provide a small step up in competition from Saturday's demolition of W&J.
|Wed Dec 7|
WVU 4-3, 0-0
UMBC 2-3, 0-0
WVU - 154
UMBC - 170
With their star, Zito, questionable for the game, UMBC could put a shuffled lineup on the floor for the contest. If he's unable to go, Housman, who has thrived both off the bench and in place of Zito in the starting lineup, figures to get the nod, but that might not be the only change as the Terriers try to muster as much offense as possible against the Mountaineers. UMBC has made just 24 three-pointers in five games, and shoots just 25.3% from beyond the arc, so points have been hard to come by at times this year.
Of course, this isn't an exhibition contest, and should WVU approach it as such, UMBC could cause a bit of trouble. However, it the Mountaineers play with their usual efficiency, it figures to be another routine win for the home team.
WVU: Mike Gansey (Back) Will play
UMBC: John Zito (Ankle) Questionable
UMBC is entering its 20th season as a Division 1 school, which is half as long as the school as been in existence altogether. UMBC was founded in 1966, making it the third-youngest NCAA Division I institution in the country. The athletic program has been a member of the East Coast Conference (1990-92), Big South Conference (1992-98), Northeast Conference (1998- 2003) and is currently a member of the America East Conference (2003).
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West Virginia has three of its top ten all-time performers in three-point shooting percentage on its current roster. Kevin Pittsnogle is WVU's all-time career three-point field goal percentage leader at 41.8 percent, Mike Gansey, who recently passed roommate Patrick Beilein, is eighth at 37.6 percent, and Beilein is 10th at 36.6 percent
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UMBC has struggled on the road of late, losing its last seven in a row and 19 of its last 21. In addition, the Retrievers have never defeated a Big East team, going 0-10 in its short history. On the opposite side of the scale, WVU has never lost to an America East team, holding a 4-0 record alltime against members of that league.
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The Terriers are averaging almost 16 turnovers per game, and have only three players on the roster with more assists than turnovers this year. Should WVU turn up the heat in its halfcourt trap versions of the 1-3-1, that number could be eclipsed on Wednesday night.