New-look Mountaineers begin season tonight
Within the West Virginia men's basketball coaching circle, today's 7 p.m. exhibition game with Northern Kentucky will be a chance to see familiar faces.
Mountaineer coach Bob Huggins will welcome former player and graduate assistant Darris Nichols, former grad assistant Kevin Schappell and even his nephew, NKU guard Anthony Monaco, to the Coliseum.
But for WVU fans, the game will serve as a chance to see new faces in Mountaineer uniforms.
On Thursday, Huggins said two of those new faces - point guard Jabarie Hinds of Mount Vernon, N.Y., and forward Keaton Miles of Dallas - will probably start against the Norse.
The other Mountaineer starters are expected to be veterans Kevin Jones, Truck Bryant and Deniz Kilicli.
The only other returning WVU player, however, is 6-foot-10 Kevin Noreen, who is coming off a medical-redshirt year. The rest of the team consists of newcomers.
Aside from Hinds, the gem of Huggins' last recruiting class, and Miles, a long 6-7 forward, fans will probably be able to check out guards Gary Browne and Aaron Brown, 6-11 center Pat Forsythe, forward Tommy McCune and junior college transfer forward Dominique Rutledge, who has been reinstated after suspension. Walk-on Paul Williamson of Logan saw playing time in the team's trip to Italy.
In Northern Kentucky, WVU will be facing a team from the Great Lakes Valley Conference that opened its exhibition schedule Tuesday night by losing to Marshall 65-55. The Norse hit 7-of-19 first-half 3-point shots, including three from Jon Van Hoose, to take a 32-27 lead at the break against the Herd.
Two NKU players sat out that game but are expected to play against WVU. Eshaunte Jones, a 6-4 junior forward, averaged 4.1 points at Nebraska last season before transferring. The other is Ernest "Stretch" Watson, a 6-7 transfer from Trinity Valley Community College in Texas.
"Northern Kentucky has perennially been one of the best Division II teams in the country," Huggins said. "They're about ready to make the move to Division I. They're talented. They're about as good of a team as you can find for an exhibition game."
WVU will begin the regular season at 9 p.m. on Nov. 11 against Oral Roberts at the Coliseum.
Tickets are priced at $27 for lower-level seating and $15 for upper-level seating. They can be purchased at the Civic Center or by calling 304-345-7469 or 1-800-WVU GAME or online at WVUGAME.com.
Reach Mitch Vingle at 304-348-4827, email@example.com or follow him at twitter.com/MitchVingle.