WVU Basketball Head Coach Bob Huggins Expects a lot from his Ret - WVU Football, WVU Basketball, News - Mountaineer Sports

WVU Basketball Head Coach Bob Huggins Expects a lot from his Returning Players


This season will be very interesting for Bob Huggins and the West Virginia men's basketball team.  Of the 13 members on the 2011-2012 squad, nine of them will be playing at WVU for the first time.  Kevin Jones, Truck Bryant, Deniz Kilicli and Kevin Noreen are the only returning players.

Luckily for many of the new Mountaineer players, they were able to go to Italy this summer to learn the system and get acclimated with college basketball under Huggins.  With that said, there is still a lot to learn and freshmen will be freshmen.

In the back court, Joe Mazzulla, Jonnie West and Casey Mitchell are gone.  The players that will be stepping in are Gary Browne, Jabarie Hinds and Juwan Staten (ineligible this season because of transfer rules).  Truck Bryant is the only guard returning for West Virginia and is expected to have a huge role in the success of this year's team.  He is expected to play more shooting guard and less point guard than he has in the past.

"We don't really have positions but I'd really like for [Truck] to have the ball less," Huggins said.  "He's our best perimeter shooter and I think he'll be our most consistent perimeter shooter.  He was miserable from the field to start Big East play [last season], he was shooting around 19%.  When we got him off the ball and let Joe [Mazzulla] have the ball more, Truck started making shots."

Although he doesn't have to worry about calling the plays and being the playmaker as much this season, he needs to help tell the new players where to go and what to do.

"He just has less things to worry and think about although now he has to help KJ get people where they're supposed to be, but I think he's going to be a lot more productive for us offensively without having all of the responsibilities of a point guard," Huggins said.

The WVU front court is in much better shape when it comes to depth than the back court.  John Flowers and Cam Thoroughman are also gone while Aaron Brown, Pat Forsythe, Tommie McCune, Keaton Miles, Dominique Rutledge and Aaric Murray (ineligible because of transfer rules) are in.

Kevin Jones returns to finish what will be one of the most prolific careers by a power forward in WVU history.  He currently ranks second all-time in offensive rebounds behind Chris Brooks and needs only 12 to pass him.  Coach Huggins expects KJ to lead this young team and be the man to rally behind.

"He's going to be our leader," Huggins said.  "I trust him, there's no doubt about that.  I think KJ just has to continue to do what KJ does.  Make open shots and rebound the ball.  He's our best defender and he's also our best 3-man [small forward] and he can also guard the 5-man [center] better than anyone we have.

"He could end up one of the top 15 scorers, top 15 rebounders and the top offensive rebounder ever in school history.  In a place like this that has had great players, that's pretty good and a heck of a career."

One of the biggest experiments Huggins has had since he has been at West Virginia is the development of Deniz Kilicli.  Huggins hopes this is finally the season where he can put it all together.

"He's a lot better," Huggins said.  "He's in so much better physical condition and I think his skill level is better.  Deniz just needs to continue to buy in and he will have a good year if he does."

There is no doubt Kilicli can score around the basket, especially with his jump hook, but he needs to improve in the rebounding and defensive aspects of the game.

"Jerry [West]'s statue got as many rebounds as Deniz did in a few games," Huggins said.  "He's rebounding it better.  We need him to get to that next level and get us seven a game."

Kevin Noreen also returns, playing sparingly last season before rupturing his prepatellar bursa in his right knee.  He is expected to get a lot of playing time in the front court, mainly at the power forward position.

The Mountaineer basketball season is officially underway as the team begins to prepare for the 2011-2012 year.


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