WVU Basketball to be featured in Hoops Marathon

Earlier today ESPN announced games for its annual hoops marathon, which are 11 games in 24 hours which will be broadcast on various ESPN networks. The marathon begins at midnight with the West Virginia Mountaineers taking on the Gonzaga Bulldogs.

These two teams faced in the NCAA Tournament with the Bulldogs destroying the Mountaineers, now West Virginia is looking for a little payback. The last time they played Gonzaga outplayed West Virginia in every aspect of the game and eventually won 77-54. Since a lot has happened between then and now, the Mountaineers will look to kickoff the season with a win.

However, this will be a true test of the Mountaineers to see if they can play without the leadership of Kevin Jones and Darryl “Truck” Bryant. In their last meeting Gary Browne was the top performer for the Mountaineers with 15 points, 4 rebounds, 3 assists and 1 block. Browne will probably have a bigger role this year since Bryant is gone and it will be up to him and Jabarie Hinds to keep the Mountaineers in this one. As for filling in for Jones, senior Deniz Kilicli has some big shoes to fill. While Kilicli has to step up as a leader, he also has to take smarter shots as well as get his hook shot going early.

Another problem West Virginia faced last was their poor shooting performance. The Mountaineers shot only 32% from the field, while the Bulldogs shot an amazing 56% from the field. This will absolutely be the deciding factor in this one as the Mountaineers seemed to struggle late in the season getting shots to drop. While this will be one of their earlier games, they will have to take a commanding lead in order to take some of the pressure off on defense.

The Mountaineers also shot a disappointing 17% from three point range while the Bulldogs shot an excellent 53%. Three point shooting was a big problem for West Virginia last year and they will have to do a better job this year if they want to be able to upset teams as well as keep opposing defenses on their toes. This is where Hinds will have to step up and take better open look shots. In their last meeting Browne was able to knock down one, but he will have to make a lot more if he hopes to help the Mountaineers gain the upper hand on the Bulldogs.

The one area that West Virginia did great in was rebounding. They out rebounded the Bulldogs on offensive 10-5 while grabbing 28 on defensive compared to Gonzaga’s 30. If West Virginia can get a good lead early and can out rebound Gonzaga, then this one could be over before it starts.

This will be one of the first few games Mountaineers and fans will have to wait and see how they play without superstars Kevin Jones or Truck Bryant. Another person they will have to look for is Deniz Kilicli to see if he can be the leader this team needs. This game will also be the chance for newer recruits to step up and show Head Coach Bob Huggins and fans why they deserve to play Division 1 basketball.

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