Preview: West Virginia - Delaware State

The series finale' of preparation foes comes tonight against Delaware State as West Virginia continue to work towards the final rounds of the Las Vegas Invitational.

SCOUTING THE HORNETS

DSU is 0-4 against Division I competition and 1-5 overall. Three of those foes, however, are Dayton, Ohio State and Kentucky. Still to come are games against Connecticut, Maryland, Rutgers and Notre Dame – all on the road. And until the 10th of January, the Hornets play just one game at home. It's a merciless slate that won't get easier against WVU, which has across-the-board advantages.

The key to DSU's balanced scoring is the guard play. Donald Johnson, a 6-4 sophomore, isn't the best pure shooter on the roster. But he can make shots from anywhere on the floor and slash to the bucket. Johnson's issue is his lack of drawing fouls. He has hit 13 of 14 free throws on the season and could significantly ease the Hornets' scoring need if he could get to the line three to four more times per game. Point guard Trevor Welcher, a 5-11 sophomore, has a solid shot, but prefers to distribute the ball. His quickness aids his preference for distributing the ball – among the reasons he averages just 5.5 points per game. Swingman Marcus Neal is the most balanced of head coach Mike Jackson's players. At 6.5 points and 4.2 rebounds per game, the junior is showing solid strides from last season, when his highs were seven points and three boards in the NIT loss to West Virginia.

Arturo Dubois and Frisco Sandidge, the starters at forward, combine for 14.4 points and 13.8 rebounds. Dubois, a 6-7, 240-pounder, is the inside presence, while Sandidge operates more out of the paint and along the perimeter. The latter is more effective in getting to the free throw (19 of 32 as opposed to Dubois' five of seven), but shoots a slightly lower percentage from the floor and lacks the defensive tenacity of Dubois, who has a team-best 12 blocks. The two should provide more of a challenge than did Longwood's interior, and are not likely to be intimidated by a major conference name or talent.

Backup guard Fred Bouie, a 6-0, 180-pound junior, has started one game and averages 6.8 points. He's quick to pull the trigger on any decent looks, which is hurting his shooting percentage. At 35.9 percent from the floor, including seven of 23 from three-point range, Bouie needs to reign in his fire-it-up instincts and play more within the offense. Reserve forward Chris Douse, a 6-6, 215-pound Nebraska transfer, is in his fifth-season at the collegiate level. The serviceable Ontario native plays an average of 17 minutes, netting 5.7 points and 2.5 rebounds.

OUTLOOK

Delaware State's problem is its turnover tendency. It lacks the quickness of most of its foes thus far, and that's showing in its 109 turnovers, an average of almost 20 per game, against the 56 assists. Only Welcher has more assists than turnovers (15 to 10), and the remainder of the top seven players have gaps of at least five, with two having 10 more turnovers than assists. The opposing steal numbers of eight per game indicate an unwillingness to find pen players or adequately share the ball.

BlueGoldNews.com
Game Info
Tues. Nov. 25
7:00 p.m.

Charleston Civic Center
Records
WVU 2-0
Delaware State 1-5
Series
WVU 3-0
TV
Mountaineer TV (online)
MSN Radio
RPI
WVU - 158
Delaware State - 328

That's a major blow against solid competition. The Hornets will need to show patience and not attempt to run with the deeper, more skilled Mountaineers. West Virginia, though it failed to finish a game against Oklahoma last season, has played well inside the Charleston Civic Center under head coach Bob Huggins. This is the last of three warm-up outings for WVU, and it needs to dismantle DSU efficiently while working the sets likely used in Vegas versus Iowa. The Hornets aren't a poor club or program, just one which continues to overschedule yearly.

This indeed could be the best test thus far, and it will be the initial road foray for the freshmen. This game at the Civic Center comes are a prime time. It allows for a feel for foreign environments sans the outright hostility that will surface at Ole Miss after the Vegas trip. Check the free throw and field shooting percentages, assist-to-turnovers and other like numbers in this contest; that will give some insight as to how younger players perform away from the WVU Coliseum, and how they handle varying circumstances.

INJURY REPORT

WVU: Josh Sowards (ankle), doubtful.

Delaware State: None.

FAST BREAKS

DSU's Welcher is the third-cousin of L.A. Laker Kobe Bryant. Guard Greg Jackson, Jr., the son of the Hornet's head coach, had a bone marrow transplant two years ago to rid his system of sickle cell anemia and now shows no trace of the disease. Sickle cell anemia affects one in 50 Americans of African ancestry.

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WVU is 51-19 all-time at the Charleston Civic Center and 59-21 all-time in Charleston. Jackson is 0-3 against the Mountaineers; Huggins is 1-0 against DSU. His 1988-89 Akron squad beat the Hornets 105-66 on Dec. 2, 1988. WVU is 10-0 all-time against teams from the MEAC.

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West Virginia's Da'Sean Butler is shooting 80 percent from three-point range (four of five). He scored 38 points in the team's exhibition win over Mountain State University; 28 points against Delaware State would give him 900 in his career. Truck Bryant leads the team with four-of-four shooting from long range. Huggins said Bryant has performed better in games than in practice, and that he might play s many as four guards at one time.

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The Mountaineers received 10 votes in the latest Associated Press poll. There are four Big East teams in the top 10, five in the top 15 and seven in the top 25 in what could arguably be the best basketball conference ever.


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