WVU Kicks Off Season With a Slam, but No Bang - WVU Football, WVU Basketball, News - Mountaineer Sports

WVU Kicks Off Season With a Slam, but No Bang

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MORGANTOWN -

Mountaineer Madness is a great idea, but at WVU, it continues to fall flat of the excitement that some other programs in the nation generate.

The dunk contest is typically the highlight of the event and Friday was no different. Freshman Keaton Miles and junior Aaric Murray made it out of the first round and though Miles had a strong finish, Murray took the prize with some assistance from senior Truck Bryant.

When the dunk contest ended, we learned that it had really just begun. The scrimmage the Mountaineers played was essentially an extension of what Miles and Murray had started just a few minutes earlier.

It seemed like every player who could touch the rim made sure he was in position to get a clear lane to the basket for a slam. WVU put some assists on the board, too, with plenty of alley-oop action on the court. Truck Bryant's lob off the backboard to himself before slamming it home was the real highlight among all the other dunks.

There's not much that can be learned on a night like this. The scrimmage shows very little of what you can expect to see once the season begins and the team is running actual sets. You can see athleticism, passing and shooting, but no glimpse of a finished product.

You can also see personality and it appears these young players have no shortage of it.

Freshmen Keaton Miles and Tommie McCune may have mistaken their surroundings for a dance-off from time to time Saturday night and were constantly cutting up with their teammates. The repeated renditions of "The Dougie" that John Flowers made so famous at WVU a year ago had it feeling like Flowers never left.

The players had a chance to do something altogether funny and memorable at the event's conclusion, though, and they dropped the ball. Badly.

A few years ago, when Truck Bryant, Kevin Jones and Devin Ebanks were freshmen, they were made to sing the national anthem. It was a terrible idea because they either messed up the words or messed up the notes and it almost came off as disrespectful as they laughed through the Star-Spangled Banner.

On Saturday, the task was singing John Denver's "Country Roads" while Deniz Kilicli played the accompaniment on his guitar. Bob Huggins joked earlier that they had learned from the anthem incident and would put the lyrics on the ribbon board.

Unfortunately, lyrics don't help when the people singing seem to have never heard the song in the first place. The three-minute ordeal was difficult to watch and came off as a poor attempt at humor, when it could have been something special.

For Mountaineer Madness to continue and gain popularity, there needs to be better organization. There cannot be dead time between the spectacles, at least not to the extent that existed Friday.

The players need to spend more time perfecting their dunks. On multiple occasions, they were simply looking to their teammates for ideas as though no real planning went into it. And seriously, stop singing songs badly looking for laughs. If you get it right, the fans will laugh. If you get it wrong, they'll cringe.

It was probably they players' least favorite part, but perhaps the best thing the fans got out of the night was the autograph signing.

Mountaineer Madness was a terrific opportunity to meet the new players and build excitement for the season, and it did so, but there is plenty of room for improvement.

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