SCOUTING THE EAGLES
Coppin State uses a rather unique setup of three guards, a forward and a center. Much of this is just how players are labeled, but it certainly showcases the difference between how coaches see players and how they fit onto schemes. Center Ceslovas Kucinskas (6-8, 245 lbs.) lacks the height normally associated with marquee five-spot players. But the junior has a decent touch and is averaging eight points and four boards per game. He isn't an outside threat like many other European-based players, but the Mountaineers will need to keep him away from the rim and try to defend physically as he can hit anywhere inside the paint. This will be a CSU liability on defense, though, and Kucinskas will only play about half the game. Forward Branden Doughty (6-8, 220 lbs.) is shooting 47.5 percent from the field, though he also won't pop out for many threes. The freshman is a solid defender and averages nearly two blocks per game to go with seven points and seven rebounds. Most of those boards come on the defensive end, as Doughty won't hesitate to put a body into other players. He should have trouble with Kevin Jones' length and bulk, though. Look for this to be the most physical match-up of the night. Jones can't hack, as Doughty hits better than 70 percent from the line
Point guard George Jackson (5-11, 162 lbs.) is a pure distributor at just four points per game. The freshman is playing about 20 minutes and has only recently settled into a starting role. Jackson has missed 75 percent of his shots, including more than 80 percent from three-point range. He isn't great off the bounce, but does have a positive assist-to-turnover ratio and has shown some ability to get others involved via drives and dishing or simply setting up other players for shots. The points from the trio of guards come from Lenny Young (6-2, 205 lbs.) and Kareem Brown (6-2, 190 lbs.) at 13 and 10, respectively. Young has a better touch from all over the floor and is making 40 percent from the field, 35 from three-point range. He could have trouble if matched against Da'Sean Butler because of the size differential, but he does rebound adequately for a 6-2 player and is involved in all facets of the game. Brown is a kind of filler player in that there's nothing that stands out in his game. He can shoot it a bit, plays decent defense and isn't selfish. But he lacks the skill of Young, and doesn't have the finite moves around the hoop to allow him to operate in the paint at his size. The two will split some time with guard Quinston Reggins, who plays about 16 minutes per game. The 6-1 junior is just now getting his first decent playing time. He hits for a couple points and a rebound per game and is usually called upon to steal minutes.
The other back-ups for head coach Ron "Fang" Mitchell are Vince Goldsberry, Sam Coleman and Eddie Hayden. Goldsberry (6-0, 175 lbs.) started at point guard until being replaced by Jackson three games in. The junior is still averaging about 27 minutes a contest to go with 10 points and four rebounds. He is often the first player off the bench and his experience will settle the Eagles. His shooting and assists-to-turnover numbers are better than Jackson, but it appears Mitchell will stick with stating the newcomer against West Virginia. Coleman (6-10, 212 lbs.), the reserve center, is solid close to the hoop but doesn't have any range outside 10 feet. Hayden (6-6, 240 lbs.), who fills in at forward for 13 minutes a game, is only averaging four points. But he is netting four rebounds a game in limited time and has good across-the-board marks. It's hard to fathom Mitchell wanting to play the reserves for elongated periods, but at least – unlike Duquesne head coach Ron Everhart – he has some numbers with which to work against a deep team that could easily expose smaller squads with defense and foul trouble.
This looks like a very difficult match-up for Coppin State. The Eagles have small guards, a center that doesn't pull anybody away from the basket, they turn it over some and they are not great rebounders. The point guard doesn't score well, and some of the other point players don't have great shooting strokes. This isn't a poor CSU squad, as they have shown in racking up five wins in eight games. But Coppin hasn't faced West Virginia's size, skill or numbers, and it seems only State's decent depth could help them here. The No. 7 Mountaineers didn't impress the last time out, however, and have showed some selfishness and a lack of offensive cohesiveness that drew the ire of head coach Bob Huggins after the win over the Dukes. That's all fine for right now, but WVU needs to use this game to again work on itself. The major tests are quickly approaching, and the breakdowns like not transitioning to defense consistently and lack of spacing and flow in the offense will be brought to the forefront by better teams.
|Sat. Dec. 12
7:00 p.m. EST
WVU 6-0, 0-0
CSU 5-3, 0-0
Big East Network
WVU - 3
CSU - 287
West Virginia is winning home games by an average of exactly 20 points under Huggins. It is 52-2 when leading games by 10 or more points under the coach and has won 23 straight when scoring 70 or more points.
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Da'Sean Butler needs 12 points to pass Mark Workman for 13th place on the all-time WVU scoring list. He is the 16th player to score 1,500 points and has 80 double-figure scoring games.
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Devin Ebanks has scored in double figures in 15 of his last 17 games.
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West Virginia is 11-0 against current members of the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference. Huggins is 4-0 against Coppin State and Mitchell. Three wins came when Huggins was at Cincinnati and one while he was at Kansas State.
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The Big East have five of the nation's 15 remaining Division I unbeaten teams (as of Dec. 11).