MORGANTOWN, W.Va. - West Virginia figures to be in for a much stiffer test in its regular-season opener tonight than it faced in its exhibition tune-up on Monday.
It should be a much different one, too.
The Mountaineers, taking what are hoped to be the first steps toward erasing the memories of a 13-19 season, host Mount St. Marys tonight at the Coliseum. The 8 p.m. game will be televised throughout the state by West Virginia Media (WOWK in Charleston) and will be preceded at 5:30 p.m. by WVU's women hosting Ohio State.
On Monday, Bob Huggins' team broke what had seemed to be a preseason shooting slump by making 12 3-pointers in an exhibition win over Division II Fairmont State. But the Falcons weren't particularly aggressive in defending the Mountaineers, at least not as they got deeper into a game in which they were whistled for 40 fouls.
Mount St. Marys is far more likely to attack West Virginia defensively.
"They're experienced and they're going to press," Huggins said of Mount St. Marys, which also goes by Mountaineers. "Diamond press, man-to-man, run and jump and maybe a little 2-2-1.''
West Virginia would appear to be relatively well equipped to handle pressure given that its most experienced players are all guards. Juwan Staten, Eron Harris and Gary Browne can all play the point and handle the ball.
Terry Henderson could help there, too, but his availability for tonight's opener remains in question. Henderson missed Monday's exhibition game because of a problem with one of his shins. Aside from Henderson, though, everyone else seems healthy and ready, including junior college transfer Remi Dibo, who played only the last few minutes Monday after missing two weeks after knee surgery.