West Virginia brings back one of the youngest squads in college basketball this fall, fielding a roster with no seniors and 10 freshmen and sophomores. It was 6-9 freshman forward Nathan Adrian, a Morgantown native, who flashed the first positive sign, scoring 23 points in an exhibition victory Monday night against Fairmont State. He and fellow 6-9 freshman forward Devin Williams should battle for playing time in their debut seasons and provide a more stable starting five than last season, when 12 players made starts.
2. LOCK IN LONG RANGE
The Mountaineers struggled in their outside game last season, shooting just 31.6 percent from 3-point range despite boasting sophomore guard Terry Henderson, who shot 40 percent from behind the arc. Adrian, a big man with a versatile game, could be a key contributor to the perimeter. He was lights out in the exhibition, making 3-pointers on each of the first two possessions and hitting 6 of his 10 3-point attempts. West Virginia started the year off right, shooting 44.4 percent from long range against Fairmont.
3. FRONTCOURT PRESENCE
With a trio of experienced guards back, a critical concern is that the Mountaineers need a spark in the frontcourt. Fairmont State badly outscored West Virginia, 34-10, in the paint. The freshman duo of Adrian and Williams appear, at least through one performance, to be a two-fold answer; Adrian provided the punch, with 21 points, and Williams added the muscle, with 14 rebounds. Expect junior center Kevin Noreen, the tallest player on the roster (6-10), to be a much improved offensive player this season.
AT A GLANCE
• 2012-13: 13-19, 6-12 Big 12.
• COACH: Bob Huggins, seventh year, 120-56.
• PROBABLE STARTERS: G — Juwan Staten, Jr., 6-1, (7.6 ppg, 3.2 apg, 2.9 rpg); G — Eron Harris, So., 6-3, (9.8 ppg, 2.3 rpg); G — Terry Henderson, So., 6-4, (8.0 ppg, 2.4 rpg); F — Devin Williams, Fr., 6-9, (NA); C — Kevin Noreen, Jr., 6-10, (3.0 ppg, 4.4 rpg).
• SCHEDULE (Home games in caps)
NOVEMBER — 8, MOUNT ST. MARY’S, 8 p.m.; 12, Virginia Tech, 1 p.m.; 17, DUQUESNE, 4 p.m.; 21, GEORGIA SOUTHERN, 7 p.m.; 23, PRESBYTERIAN, 1:30 p.m.; 26, OLD DOMINION, 6 p.m.; 27, WISCONSIN or SAINT LOUIS, 7 or 9:30 p.m.
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