Preview: WVU - Loyola Maryland

No. 8 West Virginia opens what is expected to be among the most exciting seasons in history with a home game against Loyola University Maryland at 4 p.m. today.

SCOUTING THE GREYHOUNDS

Loyola-Maryland opened its season Friday with a 79-66 win over Vermont. The Greyhounds (1-0 ) pieced together a 17-6 run with 15 minutes left to turn a four-point edge into a rout. Starting guard Brett Harvey (6-1, 175 lbs.) scored 23 points on eight of 14 shooting, including five of seven from 3-point range. The senior played a team-high 35 minutes, a feat expected to be duplicated against the Mountaineers. Harvey isn't extremely athletic, but can score from anywhere on the floor and has a jumper that must be challenged to limit his effectiveness. He won't be able to blow past WVU's defenders, but he handles enough that he won't be pickpocketed easily. Fellow guard Robert Olsen (6-4, 175 lbs.) is listed at the two spot, but can play both. Head coach Jimmy Patsos will alternate the two guards between the one and two depending upon what he views as favorable match-ups. Olsen missed six of seven shots in the opener and is still settling into the collegiate game. A solid mid-major recruit out of Georgetown Prep (nickname: Little Hoyas), Olsen has great floor vision and could be a threat to get many players involved. He will be beat on the defensive end against West Virginia, however, because of his lankiness and need to build bulk and strength.

Forwards Anthony Winbush (6-7, 180 lbs.) and Shane Walker (6-10, 211 lbs.) combined for 25 points against Vermont and flashed some ability to challenge on the boards. Winbush netted 16 of those points, but often drops the ball below his waist on rebounds, which has led to high turnover numbers in the past. Walker, a Maryland transfer, is a larger issue on the offensive end, where his size and wingspan allows for putback chances. Again, both are reasonably lanky players and will be hurt by that in the road opener. Power forward Julius Brooks (6-9, 215 lbs.) is the most physically-developed of the three starting big men, but is just a freshman. He'll attack rebounds and likes to play with his back to the hoop. He managed just two shots in the first game in 14 minutes, but part of that was likely a bit of timidity. A McDonald's All-American nominee, Brooks has the most upside of the trio of freshman inked by Patsos.

The primary backups are forward Jawaan Wright (6-8, 230 lbs.), guard Jamal Barney (6-3, 185 lbs.) and guard Brian Rudolph (5-11, 170 lbs.). The latter two play the shooting and point positions, respectively, and played 17 and 27 minutes. Both were productive, with Rudolph scoring five points and tallying seven assists against a lone turnover. Barney led the MAAC in scoring last year and had a pair of 40 point games. The junior, a Baltimore native, is a great off-the-bench asset for the ‘Hounds. Wright hit five of six from the floor on Friday to score 11 points. But he is mainly a rebounder and defender, and ranks ninth all-time in school history with 50 blocked shots. Look for him to play more than his 20 minutes in the opener as the Loyola staff searches for the strength, experience and size it needs to hang with the Mountaineers. Of the top eight players, five are freshmen or sophomores. That's not a huge issue when programs are recruiting NBA talent that exits after a season or two. But for a squad like LUM, which needs time to develop skills and physical strength, that's a difficult class structure. This is a fairly decent young team with some major upside in the coming years. Vermont has established itself as a very good mid-level team, but it couldn't hang with Loyola, and the Greyhounds could give WVU a decent game if its shots are dropping. But it hasn't seen the physicality and skill West Virginia offers, and some of the freshmen are in for a major shock. This one's a warm-up game, and one that the Mountaineers should easily win.

OUTLOOK

This is the first of a pair of tune-ups prior to the opening round of the 76 Classic. The idea for West Virginia here is to work on West Virginia. The Mountaineers need game-time action to learn to play as a unit and mix in newcomers like Casey Mitchell. Huggins was still beating about the final starting line-up; Wellington Smith is listed as a starter, but might come off the bench. Kevin Jones and perhaps even John Flowers have also been discussed among the first five. No matter; it's who is there at key stretches. WVU has far more talent – and experience – than LUM, and should be able to use the first 80 minutes of the season to begin to learn how to play as a unit against live competition. The tests will come soon enough. This one's about West Virginia competing with itself.

BlueGoldNews.com
Game Info
Sun. Nov. 15
4:00 p.m.

WVU Coliseum
Records
WVU 0-0, 0-0
LUM 1-0, 0-0
Series
First Meeting
TV
Mountaineer TV
Sirius Channel: 158
RPI
WVU - NR
LUM - 106

INJURY REPORT

WVU: Joe Mazzulla (Shoulder) – Unlikely to Play-Precautionary.

LUM: None.

FAST BREAKS

This will be the 101st home opener in WVU history. The Mountaineers are 91-9 in home openers and 86-14 in openers overall. They are 2-0 all-time on Nov. 15.

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The coaching staff at Loyola has many ties with West Virginia. Assistant coach Matt Kovarik was on Gary Williams' staff at Maryland in 2003 when the John Beilein-led Mountaineers beat the Terps 78-77 at the MCI Center in Washington, D.C. He was being recruited by, and eventually signed with, Maryland and Williams during the 1992 season when Gale Catlett's WVU squad beat UM 86-72 in the Coliseum. It was the last of a series of regular meetings from 1984-92 in which the teams split five games, and the final season for current LUM head coach Jimmy Patsos as a volunteer assistant at Maryland. He became a full-time paid assistant the next season and would work with current WVU and former Maryland assistant coach Billy Hahn for a decade.

LUM assistant coach G.G. Smith, son of Tubby Smith, played against WVU twice during his career at Georgia. The starting guard went 1-1. He scored 15 points on five-of-nine shooting (3-of-5 3pt.) with six assists in an 86-81 WVU win in 1997. The Bulldogs beat the Mountaineers 75-63 at the WVU Coliseum the following season. Smith scored 12 points, all on threes, and finished with another six assists – with zero turnovers. UGA's head coach in those games? Former Marshall mentor Ron Jirsa, who took over in Athens after Tubby Smith went to Kentucky. LUM second-year assistant coach Greg Manning attended the West Virginia University camp following his college graduation in 2008.

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Patsos' father, Charles, received a Tony in 1987 for Best Revival as a member of the producing team for "All My Sons".

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West Virginia, Pitt and Marquette are the only three teams to have winning records in Big East play in each of the last four seasons. The Mountaineers have won 36 of their last 42 non-Big East games and 41 of their last 48 outside of league play (including post-season action). WVU is 54-8 at the Coliseum in the last four years, West Virginia's average margin of victory under Huggins at the Coliseum is 20.3. Huggins needs two more wins to tie Billy Tubbs for 24th on the NCAA all-time victory list with 641.

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Finally, LUM is one of five colleges to use the Greyhound nickname. The others: Assumption College (Worcester, Mass.), which uses it in all sports except hockey, Eastern New Mexico (Portales, N.M.), Moravian College (Bethlehem, Pa.) and the University of Indianapolis. Nine colleges use the nickname ‘Mountaineers.' Among them: Western State College in Colorado. Head football coach Pat Stewart (no relation to Bill). And Mansfield (Pa.) University, the first collegiate institution to offer ‘Sprint Football' – a college league in which the players must weigh no more than 172 pounds 48 hours prior to kickoff. Like wrestling, there is a weigh-in prior to each game. Army, Cornell, Mansfield, Navy, Penn, and Princeton now make up the CSFL.


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