Delaware State has found some solidity in their program after running through an ugly total of six coaches in seven years in one stretch of the 1990s. The Hornets' coaching rock is Greg Jackson, who in just two seasons in Dover has forged a 29-28 record, including a second place finish in the MEAC last year.
The Hornets are led by senior forward Andre Matthews (14.2, ppg, 5.3 rpg last year), who is an excellent on court leader for DSU. Matthews will be joined this year by his brother, Aaron, who was at Villanova for two seasons before transferring to DSU. Aaron is an outstanding defender who should also blossom offensively in the MEAC. He'll probably play multiple positions for the Hornets, and will draw opponents' toughest defensive assignments.
DSU is also strong at the point, with short Miles Davis at the controls. An all conference selection last year, Davis averaged nine points more than three assists per game. Davis is joined in the backcourt by James Bowen, a solid shooter who could be an even bigger threat this year.
Joining the Matthews brothers in the frontcourt is all around threat Serbey Stephanenkov, who passes and handles the ball well. At 6-6, Stephanenkov plays either forward spot and causes some matchup problems for opponents.
Unlike many mid-majors, the Hornets have some height this year. 6-8 redshirt freshman Rasheed Oliver and 6-10 true freshman Marques Gant are expected to help DSU at some poitn this year, although they might not be ready to make an immediate impact this early in the season.
WVU's Jarmon Durisseau-Collins vs. Delaware State's Miles Davis
This battle of smallish point guards will be an immediate test for true freshman Collins, who will be thrown into the fire immediately against an experienced foe.
WVU 0-0, 0-0
DSU 0-0, 0-0
|Fri 11/22 7:00 PM|
WVU leads 1-0
Collins will have to steady himself early, as Davis figures to put pressure on WVU's true freshman to try to spark the Hornets' bid for a big win on the road. It's a lot to ask a true freshman to come into a new program and immediatley be a leader on the floor, but that's the challenge Collins must conquer if WVU is to have hardwood success this year.
Don't be fooled --this Delaware State team has the makings of a very good squad. The Hornets went 2-0 in their exhibition season, and figure to make a serious challenge for the MEAC title, and if they don't reach that they could secure an NIT berth for themselves.
To get notice for such a bid, the Hornets need to snag some wins out of conference. Early road trips to WVU, Dayton, Hartford, LSU and Rutgers give them that opportunity.
The Hornets have an excellent blend of returning experience and talented newcomers. They, like WVU, value the ball and emphasize team play and defense. The average fan will dismiss DSU, but those into the college game will quickly realize that the Hornets are a team to be reckoned with this season.
Delaware State will match up well with the Mountaineers. Players such as the Matthews brothers and Stephenenkov will be able to switch positions to match WVU's rotation without much difficulty. WVU coach John Beilein hopes to be able to create mismatches this year by using three guards, playing forwards at center, and generally rotating his players in multiple combinations, but the Hornets appear to have the pieces to answer any such move.
Although a win won't garner any national notice, it would be an excellent achievement to start off the Beilein era. Getting it won't be easy.
DSU returns three starters and nine lettermen this year.
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Like most teams from smaller conferences, Delaware State's early scheduled is littered with road trips. The Hornets play six of their first seven games on the road, and only play two home games before January.
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WVU guard Drew Schifino has scored in double figures in 11 straight games dating to last season, including this year's two exhibition contests.
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WVU's starting lineup figures to change during the season as Beilein and his staff try to find the proper mix of players in the new system. As of now, seven players, including Collins, Josh Yeager, Chaz Briggs, Jo Herber, Drew Schifino, Tyrone Sally and Patrick Beilein figure to contend for starting jobs.