West Virginia 2010 NCAA Tournament Preview

    
March 14th, 2010

West Virginia Mountaineers

Big East Conference (27-6, 13-5)

 

Big Wins: 11/27 vs Texas A&M (73-66), 3/6 at Villanova (68-66), 3/13 vs Georgetown (60-58)

Bad Losses: 1/9 at Notre Dame (68-70), 2/12 at Pittsburgh (95-98), 2/22 at Connecticut (62-73)

Last NCAA Appearance: 2009, First Round loss to Dayton

Coach: Bob Huggins (22-17 in 17 NCAA appearances)

 

Why They Can Surprise:

In his third year at West Virginia Coach Bob Huggins has finally turned this team from a three-point shooting team to a team that hits the glass hard and shares the ball extremely well. Coach Huggins has done a superb job and he does not even have all of his players in the system yet. What the Mountaineers do have is a lot of size. Generally speaking, WVU will start 6-7 Da’Sean Butler at shooting guard and 6-9 Devin Ebanks at small forward.

 

Of course the size continues in the paint. Wellington Smith, who is 6-7 and 245 pounds, and the 6-8, 250 pound Kevin Jones are the usual starters in the post. Jones is the more dangerous player. Not only is he averaging 13.5 points per game and connects on 37.9 percent of his attempts from beyond the arc, but he is also a very strong rebounder. And Jones is just a sophomore and seems to get better with every game. Smith is not much of a scorer in the paint, but like Jones he can stretch out the defense with his outside shooting ability. Having a strong player like Deniz Kilicli eligible after being forced to sit out 20 games by the NCAA gives West Virginia even more options up front.

 

Why They Can Disappoint:

Darryl Bryant is one of the most physical point guards out there. They call him ‘Truck’ for a reason. He will bull his way to the basket and finish or create for his teammates. He can even step outside and consistently knock down the three-pointer. However, there is not much depth at guard behind him. Casey Mitchell is not a point guard and can fill in some minutes at the two guard spot and Dalton Pepper is in the same boat. That leaves Joe Mazzulla as the only player who can really run the show when Bryant needs a break or runs into foul trouble. Mazzulla is a capable point guard, but he is nearly no threat to score and the opposition can practically leave him open.

 

Who To Watch:

Butler and Ebanks are the players who make this team special. Do not let their size or position fool you; both are wing players who just happen to be really big. Butler leads the team with 17.4 points per game. He is the team’s most prolific outside shooter and will use his size to get to the basket with ease. And at his size he has no trouble adding 6.3 rebounds and 3.3 assists per game. Ebanks is not the shooter that Butler is, but he is a high flyer who can score in a variety of ways. His long arms make him a solid defender and a great rebounder. Getting 14.5 rebounds and 5.8 assists, not to mention the scoring, from your starting wings is quite impressive.

 

Probable Starters:

Darryl Bryant, Sophomore, Guard, 9.7 ppg, 3.2 apg

Da’Sean Butler, Senior, Forward, 17.4 ppg, 6.3 rpg, 3.3 apg

Devin Ebanks, Sophomore, Forward, 11.8 ppg, 8.2 rpg, 2.5 apg

Kevin Jones, Sophomore, Forward, 13.5 ppg, 7.1 rpg

Wellington Smith, Senior, Forward, 6.8 ppg, 4.1 rpg, 1.0 bpg

 

Key Roleplayers:

John Flowers, Junior, Forward, 2.9 ppg, 2.3 rpg

Deniz Kilicli, Freshman, Forward, 3.6 ppg

Joe Mazzulla, Junior, Guard, 2.1 ppg, 2.2 apg

Casey Mitchell, Junior, Guard, 3.9 ppg, 1.0 rpg

 

By the Numbers:

Scoring Offense: 74.7 (59th in nation, 7th in conference)

Scoring Defense: 64.8 (86, 3)

Field-Goal Percentage: 43.7 (165, 12)

Field-Goal Defense: 42.9 (162, 9)

Three-Point Field Goals Per Game: 7.3 (67, 6)

Three-Point Field-Goal Percentage: 34.8 (141, 7)

Free-Throw Percentage: 69.4 (151, 7)

Rebound Margin: 6.6 (14, 1)

Assists Per Game: 16.1 (21, 3)

Turnovers Per Game: 11.9 (45, 5)

 

 

Follow Joel Welser's Postseason Capsules & College Basketball Previews on Twitter @Joel_Welser and on his Facebook page. Joel will be back in June for his annual Top 144 Teams in 144 Days preview on CollegeHoops.net

 

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