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Fluctuations dominate WVU basketball news

By Bob Madison - For the Chronicle | Oct 23, 2020

SHEPHERDSTOWN — The “Backyard Brawl” won’t be played this men’s basketball season. Neither will much of the original 2020-2021 schedule, courtesy of the COVID-19 virus and the roaring inroads the disease is still making.

West Virginia and Pittsburgh won’t play this season, but games between the two rivals are now planned for the next three seasons.

Many of the games that were planned for November and December have been junked and the Mountaineers are chasing games in order to at least get close to the 27 regular season games they are now permitted.

No games can be played before Nov. 25, and that’s the date West Virginia is now scheduled to open the season in Sioux Falls, S.D. in an eight-team event.

The original field for the tournament was headlined by Duke and was chocked full of well-known teams.

Duke dropped out but was replaced by Dayton.

The other seven tournament entries are West Virginia, Ohio State, Memphis, Creighton, Utah, Wichita State and Texas A&M.

On Nov. 25, West Virginia is scheduled to face Texas A&M of the SEC. On Nov. 26, the Mountaineers will play either Ohio State or Memphis, depending on how the first-round games go.

The other two first-round games show Creighton vs. Utah and Dayton vs. Wichita State. All the tournament games will be staged at the Sanford Pentagon, a 3,200-seat arena in Sioux Falls.

Other “sure” dates on this schedule have the Mountaineers facing Georgetown in the Big 12/Big East match and a another game in the Big 12/SEC Challenge.

West Virginia finished with a 21-10 overall record as the season was closed down just before the Big 12 Conference tournament.

In a decided change of strategy last season, WVU did not employ much full court press defense. There was very little ‘Press Virginia” to consider. In a statistic too similar to many recent teams, the team free throw percentage was 64.2 percent with Derek Culver shooting 51.7 percent from the foul line, Gabe Osabuohlen making 54.2 percent of his shots and Emmitt Matthews, Jr. showing a 62.2 percent norm from the foul line.

The current roster has Isaiah Cottrell (a 6-foot-10 freshman), Seny Ndiaye (a 6-foot-10 freshman), Taj Thweatt (a 6-foot-7 freshman), Kedrian Johnson (a 6-foot-3 junior) and Jalen Bridges (a 6-foot-7 redshirt freshman from Fairmont) as this season’s new roster additions.