It's hard to say this for sure, because many challenges lie ahead for the young WVU men's basketball team.
We will say it anyway:
This year's WVU men's basketball team looks like it may be better than we thought it would be.
Maybe quite a bit better.
WE HESITATE TO UNDERESTIMATE a Bob Huggins team under most circumstances, so maybe that's fueling optimism.
The guy is on the verge of 700 wins for a reason.
this year's Mountaineer team has been predicted to take a step back as
it retooled with a roster holding eight freshmen trying to fill a void
left behind by several battle-tested players who were key to one of the
most successful runs in WVU's rich basketball history.
that this notable stretch of accomplishment would take a detour for at
least a year have been prevalent among many a Mountaineer watcher.
It was not an
unfair observation, considering how many skilled veterans WVU lost from
last year and the year before and how many newcomers it had with
inexperience on any collegiate level -- much less at the stratospheric
heights of competition looming on the Big East Conference horizon.
COMPARED WITH SOME of
its conference opponents this season, this young Mountaineer team is
more green than a Sierra Club meeting in Boston on St. Patrick's Day.
That's pretty green.
It's as green as mixing gold and blue.
THERE'S ANOTHER MIX, though, that so far seems to be outpacing inexperience for WVU.
That is the
blend of leftover veterans -- senior forward Kevin Jones, senior guard
Truck Bryant and significantly more productive junior forward/center
Deniz Kilicli -- combined with talented freshmen such as guards Aaron
Brown, Gary Browne and Jabarie Hinds, forwards Keaton Miles and Kevin
Noreen and center Pat Forsythe.
Let's not leave freshman walk-on guard and West Virginia native Paul Williamson of Logan out of the mix.
has shown a deft shooting touch from outside, poise in handling the ball
and the hustle on defense that Huggins demands.
AT THIS POINT, WVU
stands at a more-than-acceptable 8-2 record heading into Thursday
night's game with Missouri State in Las Vegas, a win against whom will
give Huggins his 700th career victory.
That game is
followed Friday night in Vegas with a matchup against nationally
sixth-ranked Baylor, followed by a Dec. 28 home date with Villanova and a
Dec. 30 contest at Seton Hall.
That's four games in eight days, three of them on the road and encompassing long-distance travel.
WE WILL KNOW MORE at the end of next week if we are right about WVU surpassing prognostications.
(averaging almost 21 points and more than 11 rebounds a game), Bryant
(16.5 points a game) and Kilicli (12.2 points and close to seven
rebounds per contest) can keep up the pace, and the underclassmen can
continue to progress, we think WVU can finish the grueling stretch at no
worse than 3-1.
That would run WVU's record to 11-3 approaching midseason.
Not a bad start for a team predicted to finish in the Big East's bottom half.
ORANGE (BOWL) PEELS:
THE WVU TICKET OFFICE reported in recent days that sales are down for the Jan. 4 Orange Bowl game in Miami.
university -- on the hook from Orange Bowl administrators to sell 17,500
tickets -- is asking $99 each for tickets in the upper level end zone.
WVU so far
has sold about 7,500 tickets at that price and school officials admit
that it's not likely they will sell them all.
THIS CREATES A FINANCIAL CONUNDRUM for WVU because it will have to endure the cost for each ticket it doesn't sell.
That could amount to more than a half-million dollars.
is that secondary ticket sellers such as StubHub or sellers on websites
like EBay have better seats available for quite a bit less money.
experience is that showing up the day of the game with money in hand can
lead to a good ticket at agreeable price as kickoff nears and scalpers
-- er, shall we say, ticket agents -- get desperate to unload their
product for at least something.
WHILE IT MAY SEEM DISLOYAL
to do this instead of buying overpriced and underwhelming tickets from
WVU, the law of supply and demand dictates that many a WVU fan will
decide to buy better seats for less money.
If you believe Internet chatter, many a WVU fan already has done so.
are caught in an vise because they reportedly are giving away more than
2,000 tickets to players and coaches' families and others traveling
with the team as well as to military veterans who are getting free
That forces WVU to charge more than face value for the retail tickets they are selling in a bid to break even.
The result is a counter-intuitive economic formula with red ink as its chief ingredient.
THIS IS A PRIME EXAMPLE of how the BCS system is drowning in a sea of greed.
Orange Bowl officials the right to hold WVU ransom for that many
tickets, at such a cost, in such an undesirable seating location?
To use a Miami metaphor, the Orange Bowl's arm-twisting is forcing WVU to charge South Beach prices for Liberty City tickets.
Bowl muckety-muck who wonders why the BCS system is being called into
question needs to look no further than the unbalanced, corrupt and
usurious ticket conflicts the BCS bowls place on the programs that play
in the games and the fans who attend them.