SPOKANE, Wash. - The snow has covered Spokane, the home of No. 21 Gonzaga and the site of West Virginia University's men's basketball regular season opener.
Now, Mountaineer coach Bob Huggins is hoping his Monday midnight made-for-TV matchup against the 1-0 Zags will cover up last season's 77-54 NCAA tournament loss to the hosts.
"Last year, they beat us in transition," Huggins said. "We did a very poor job of running offense and they pretty much just made shots. [Gonzaga coach] Mark Few said it was their best shooting all year."
For WVU, though, it's a fresh start. Gone is all-Big East selection Kevin Jones. Gone is guard Truck Bryant. Gone is, well, the Big East, replaced by a Big 12 conference schedule.
In are transfers like 6-foot-10 junior Aaric Murray, who sat out last season after transferring from La Salle; 6-1 sophomore guard Juwan Staten, who sat out last season after transferring from Dayton; and 6-5 senior guard Matt Humphrey, who transferred from Boston College and is immediately eligible.
They join veterans like 6-9 Deniz Kilicli, who led WVU in scoring with 19 points in the team's 95-53 exhibition victory over Glenville State. Staten was next with 16 points. Still, Huggins wasn't happy.
"We need to run better offense," said the coach. "We need to take care of the ball. We need to rebound so much better. Way, way, way better."
Gonzaga lost center Robert Sacre, who was drafted by the Los Angeles Lakers with the last pick of the 2012 NBA Draft, from last year's team. But it seems he's been replaced nicely by Few.
In the Zags' season opener on Friday, 7-1 freshman Przemek Karnowski from Poland scored 22 points in a 103-65 win over Southern Utah.