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Grab a ride on WVU basketball merry-go-round

By Bob Madison - For the Chronicle | Nov 27, 2020


SHEPHERDSTOWN — No longer is the axiom, “The more things change, the more they stay the same.” Especially when peering into the ever-changing world of WVU basketball.

A scheduled trip to the Bahamas for an eight-team tournament was scrubbed and moved to Sioux Falls, S.D. Five teams from the original eight-team field decided against even participating. When Duke, Ohio State, Dayton, Utah and Texas A&M dropped out, they were replaced by Northern Iowa, St. Mary’s of California, Utah State and South Dakota State.

Remaining from the original field were WVU, Creighton, Memphis and Wichita State.

The three-day tournament’s dates remained the same. Still intact were the day before Thanksgiving, Thanksgiving Day and today.

College teams can only play 27 games this season. West Virginia’s 18-game Big 12 Conference schedule remains untouched by the pervasive disease measures.


Just before the 2019-2020 season was halted in early March this year, the Mountaineers posted their 21st win in closing out the regular season. No conference tournament was tried. No NCAA tournament was tried.

Questions abound about WVU’s backcourt and mid-range shooting. Those are two areas that are unlikely to change, even in this topsy-turvy world of collegiate sports.

Opponents are probably going to concentrate their plans on what to do to handle 6-foot-10 Derek Culver and 6-foot-9 Oscar Tshiebwe. Joining those two returnees will be Emmitt Matthews, Jr. and reserve Gabe Osabuohien, both about 6-foot-7.

In any game, 6-foot-4 Taz Sherman and 6-foot-2 Miles McBride will be carefully considered, because they could be West Virginia’s premier outside shooters and scorers.

Sean McNeil (6-foot-3) is considered a legitimate perimeter threat and 6-foot-3 newcomer Kedrian Johnson was brought in to bring some points from the outside.


Some believe 6-foot-10 Isaiah Cottrell might improve by leaps and bounds, but he’s only a freshman. Other possible first-year players who could open skeptical eyes are 6-foot-7 Taj Thweatt and 6-foot-10 Seny Ndiaye.

Redshirt freshman Jalen Bridges is 6-foot-7, and played in high school at Fairmont Senior. Jordan McCabe is a point guard who was given substantial minutes in some games last season. Another guard, Spencer Macke, has to be much more effective than he was last season.

The Mountaineers are ranked 15th in several preseason polls. In highlighted non-conference games, WVU will face both Georgetown and Florida, if nothing changes between now and those plotted playing dates.

All anyone connected with collegiate basketball can say is that absolutely nothing is certain.

The NCAA will attempt to move night into day and rattle every known cage to be able to hold a tournament this season. The nervous powers-that-be are planning a one-site national tournament in Indianapolis if at all possible.


Those people may call on Santa Claus, Rudolph and his red nose and eight tiny reindeer in order to steer a national tournament on to the calendar.