SCOUTING THE HAWKS
Maryland Eastern Shore, like many mid-level teams, features a roster dominated by guard and perimeter players. The best of the lot is junior Ed Tyson (6-2, 200 lbs.) who averages 20.2 points per game. As the only Hawk in double figures, Tyson dominates the ball offensively, having hoisted 55 more shots than any of his teammates. He is not particularly proficient, having made just 36.3% of his shots from the field, and 37% from the free throw line.
Alongside Tyson in the backcourt is freshman point guard Marc Davis (5-10, 175 lbs.) Davis struggles even more from the field than Tyson, hitting just 24.1% from floor while averaging 9.7 points per contest. He leads the team with 17 assists in six games, which shows the Hawks' tendency to drive and create shots rather than passing it around.
Up front, UMES is expected to deploy freshmen Denzel Jackson and Ishmawiyl McFadden at forward slots. Jackson (6-6, 190 lbs.) is the best shooter on the team, making 48.5% of his shots for an average of 7.8 points per game. His game is a close range one, as he has attempted no three-pointers on the season, but he is productive on the boards, tallying 6.5 rebounds per outing. McFadden (6-5, 190 lbs.) chips in with 5.3 points and 2.7 rebounds per contest.
The fifth starter could be either Brandon Moore or Aleksandar Popovic, both of whom have gotten starting roles this year. Popovic (6-10, 220 lbs.) provides size if not bulk, and has recorded 5.7 rebounds per game. He scores at just a 3.5 points per game clip, and has also struggled from both the field and the free throw line. Moore, a junior, has averaged ten minutes per game, but has scored a total of just eight points on the season.
Off the bench, sophomore Milutin Mirjacic (6-8, 200 lbs.) sees most of the relief work up front. In 17.2 minutes per game, he scores just 2.2 points, but has chipped in with 3.2 rebounds per contest. Freshman Josh Bright (5-10, 180 lbs.) tallies 3.5 points per game in relief, and features the best assist to turnover ratio on the team at 1.6 to 1.
Overall, with six freshmen and one sophomore dominating the playing time, it's a young Hawk team that is still getting its feet wet in collegiate play. As a team, UMES is shooting just 33.7% from the field and 58.1% from the free throw line – marks that go a long way in explaining its 1-5 record.
After a 1-1 split in the Legends Classic, West Virginia returns home to a level of competition closer to those of its first two opponents.
|Tue Nov 27
WVU 3-1, 0-0
UMES 1-5, 0-0
MSN Pay Per View
For WVU, this game is another chance to mark its defensive work, and could also provide the opportunity to see what pressure beyond the midcourt line could bring. WVU has not pressed, other than picking up the ball-handler at times, beyond the midcourt line, and while the Mountaineers probably aren't equipped to throw long-term full court presses at foes, that's certainly something that the coaching staff wants to have in its arsenal by the time Big East play rolls around.
On an individual basis, this game might be an important one for Joe Alexander, who has been somewhat inconsistent from game to game this year. After being nearly invisible against Tennessee, the high-flying forward responded with an outstanding game against New Mexico State, recording 16 points and ten rebounds for the second double-double of his career. The key for Alexander is to make that sort of performance night in and night out, or at least to make solid contributions, no matter who the foe. If he does, West Virginia will be a much more difficult team to handle.
This game also will provide another chance for frontcourt subs Jacob Green, John Flowers and Wellington Smith to continue their progress in the system. Their development, and the level at which they can play when the Big East season rolls around, will likely be the biggest factor in West Virginia's success rate this year – and much of that will be built on the learning experiences they have in November and December.
WVU: Cam Thoroughman (Knee) Probable
UMES: None Reported
UMES coach Meredith Smith is the interim head coach for the Hawks. After serving as an assistant at the school for the past three seasons, Smith took the job this year while UMES conducts a search for a permanent head coach, which is expected to commence in January. Smith is expected to be a part of that search, but it's an odd situation, to say the least.
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West Virginia has never lost to a Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC) team, holding a 9-0 record against the nearby schools. Head coach Bob Huggins is 3-0 against UMES.
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Point guard Darris Nichols is West Virginia's single-season leader in minutes played. Last year, Nichols was on the floor for 1,251 minutes. In Bob Huggins' system, he likely won't approach that mark, as the all-out man-to-man defensive demands in the scheme will require a few more rest breaks.
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Through four games, West Virginia is averaging nine more rebounds than it did a season ago. That would indicate that WVU does have the ability to bang on the boards, and that the deficits of the last few years weren't due to a lack of ability – rather one of emphasis by the coaching staff.