6-6 junior Jay Hewitt (1.6 ppg) and 6-3 sophomore Drew Schifino (9.7 ppg, 3.3 rpg), are the only returning guards with much experience-and that isn't much. Schifino started 10 games and averaged 21.8 minutes. Hewitt averaged just 11.2 minutes. 6-2 junior Tobias Seldon (0.6 ppg) is back but played in just seven games.
The frontcourt welcomes returning starters Chaz Briggs (7.0 ppg, 5.0 rpg), a 6-7 senior forward, and 6-8 senior forward Josh Yeager (7.5 ppg, 3.6 rpg). Sophomore Tyrone Sally (4.4 ppg, 3.3 rpg), a 6-7 forward, returns after averaging 16.5 minutes.
"Many of our players are very much the type of player I've recruited over the years. They're versatile players," head coach John Beilein said.
The newcomer on the spot is 6-10, 220-pound freshman Kevin Pittsnogle, who is from Martinsburg, W. Va. He'll have to man the middle by default unless Beilein sticks with an all-forward front line of quick leapers. Then again, Pittsnogle is also listed as a forward.
"He can pass, he can shoot,'' Beilein said of Pittsnogle, who averaged 20 points and 11 rebounds as a senior. "He's a high-post center and we'll have a lot of high-post offense."
The other rookie who will have to step right in is freshman point guard Jarmon Durisseau-Collins, a 5-10 Houston native who spent last year at Redemption Christian Academy in New York. He averaged 18 points, 11 rebounds and seven assists and made 40 percent of his three-point shots and 85 percent of his free throws.
"He's a strong guard and can run a team," Beilein said.
"Both are smart players who can shoot,'' Beilein said.
Beilein was the Virginia Independent Schools Player of the Year after averaging 20 points and eight rebounds. Herber is a member of Germany's 20-under national team.
Blue Ribbon AnalysisBACKCOURT: D
Don't pity Beilein, a no-nonsense guy all the way. He has a five-year contract worth $550,000 a year and an administration that seems prepared to be patient. It better be, because this could take a few years.
"I was most impressed with his campus experience where he makes every student count," college president David Hardesty said. "He's hands on. He cares that his players graduate, he cares that they value education, he cares about every aspect of their lives."
Beilein has been so busy putting out fires that he has barely watched any game tapes of his own players.
The returning starters, led by the perimeter-oriented Yeager and Briggs, a good leaper who has worked on his outside shot, will be enough to keep the Mountaineers respectable at times. But don't expect much. Every player on the court will need to help out rebounding because the frontcourt has little bulk. Collins, the freshman at the point, also has his hands full.
It could be a long, cold winter in Morgantown, but Beilein says he's prepared for it and wants everything to be a learning experience to help the program get back on the right track. It's amazing how quickly a program can come apart.
Heading in to last year, the Mountaineers had four returning starters from a 17-win club. But the dismissal of Lyles, who could have helped West Virginia steal a couple of games, was an indication that the administration and coach want to do this the right way.
"There's a process you have to go through. We have to get better little by little," the 50-year-old Beilein said. "We'll do it, there's no question about it, but it's going to take time. I've had tremendous support from the administration and I know they're behind me. They've given me a long contract to make sure I get it done."