WVi Staff Predicts the 2012-2013 Men's Basketball Season - WVU Football, WVU Basketball, News - Mountaineer Sports

WVi Staff Predicts the 2012-2013 Men's Basketball Season

Updated:
Dayton transfer point guard Juwan Staten will play a vital role on this year's WVU basketball team. Dayton transfer point guard Juwan Staten will play a vital role on this year's WVU basketball team.

Is the saying "time flies when you're having fun" or "time flies when you're losing"?  Regardless, basketball season is quickly approaching and the recent football slide has made many WVU fans that much more eager to get a glimpse of Huggins' new-look Mountaineers on the hardwood.

Gone are Kevin Jones and Truck Bryant, who were both part of the 2010 Final Four squad and combined to average 37 points per game last winter during their senior seasons.

How do you immediately replace that point production and leadership? Insert three experienced transfers, all of whom are eligible for WVU's first game of the season Tuesday night against No. 21 Gonzaga (11:59pm EST on ESPN).

Junior center Aaric Murray (15.2 ppg, 7.7 rpg, 2.3 bpg in 2010-11 at LaSalle), sophomore point guard Juwan Staten (8.5 ppg, 5.4 apg in 2010-11 at Dayton) and senior forward Matt Humphrey (10.3 ppg in 2011-12 at Boston College) have put up solid numbers previously on the Division-1 level and will likely play vital roles on this season's team.

Sophomore shooting guard Jabarie Hinds (7.4 ppg, 3.3 apg), senior forward Deniz Kilicli (10.7 ppg, 5.3 rpg) and sophomore forward Keaton Miles (1.4 ppg) are returning starters. Sophomores Gary Browne (6.5 ppg, 3.0 apg), Aaron Brown (4.2 ppg) and Kevin Noreen (2.1 ppg) will continue to earn minutes after gaining valuable experience as freshmen.  Forward Dominique Rutledge (2.6 rpg) returns for his final season as a Mountaineer, while the team also welcomes two talented true freshmen guards to the mix in Eron Harris and Terry Henderson.  Sophomore Ukrainian forward Volodymyr Gerun will be eligible to compete after sitting out six games per NCAA rules.

With the season upon us, it's time for the WVi staff to dish out their inaugural preseason predictions for the 2012-2013 men's basketball season.

Preseason MVP
Geoff Coyle:
Juwan Staten - The first time I saw Staten in person was at the Pittsburgh Summit League in 2011 and I came away thinking that he could have been exactly what Bob Huggins was looking for in a point guard.  Now, he's had a whole season to watch and to practice with WVU and I expect nothing less.  His selection as a team captain is a clear sign of confidence from his teammates that he will need as he takes the role of the floor general for the Mountaineers.
Scott Grayson:
Juwan Staten - While he sat our last year due to transfer rules, he made the most of that season.  Staten was constantly in Bob Huggins' ear at practice to fully understand what Huggins wants in certain situations, and as a result they appear to already be on the same page.  His teammates voted him a team captain and Staten is already proving to be a leader on the court.  What does an MVP do?  He makes everyone around him better.  Staten will certainly do that by not turning the ball over much and setting up his teammates to score.  By having a true point guard, Jabarie Hinds and Gary Browne can focus more on the shooting guard position.  I expect Staten to be as efficient a point guard as Darris Nichols was during his playing days at WVU.
Matt Allevato:
Juwan Staten - The Dayton transfer should provide an immediate boost at the point guard position.  There are multiple guards on this team capable of handling the ball, but none of them possess the complete package of quickness, speed, vision, leadership, ball-handling and slashing ability that Staten does.  If this offseason and last Tuesday's scrimmage were any indicator of his play this upcoming season, Staten should become one of the top point guards in the Big 12 by March.

Surprise Newcomer
Geoff Coyle:
Volodymyr Gerun - I'm not sure if it's a surprise, because I believe the coaching staff expects a good bit from Gerun, but I do think he will have the chance to show a very versatile game and once his six-game suspension is over, he can add a real problem for opponents coming off the bench.  His size alone can be an asset, but Gerun presents much more than just another body if he can progress the way Ron Everhart envisioned when he signed him out of Ukraine.
Scott Grayson:
Volodymyr Gerun - While Gerun will have to sit out the first six games due to an NCAA suspension for his part in playing with professional basketball players in Europe prior to coming to WVU, he did get the opportunity to play in last week's scrimmage against Glenville State and looked good doing it.  Gerun did not hesitate at all and looked aggressive on the offensive glass and with the ball in his hands down low.  Look for Gerun to get more and more playing time as the season progresses and he gets more comfortable with his role on the team.
Matt Allevato:
Eron Harris – I'll put some stock in this true freshman.  By all early accounts, the 6'2" shooting guard has impressed his teammates and coaches in the preseason.  While the possibility remains that one of the newcomers could be redshirted due to the depth on this year's team, I don't expect that to happen to Harris.  His athleticism and natural scoring ability is something that hasn't been seen around here in awhile from the '2' spot, and he should see valuable minutes as the season progresses and he becomes more comfortable with Huggins' scheme.  This 'surprise newcomer' pick of mine may be more of a long shot for this season, but Harris is a kid I could certainly see developing into an all-conference player by the time he leaves Morgantown.

Breakout Player
Geoff Coyle:
Keaton Miles - The sophomore came to Morgantown with much bigger expectations than he showed in year one.  The coaches admitted it and the player admitted it.  Talk to many of his teammates and they'll tell you that Miles was the sort of player who you'd have a hard time prying out of the practice facility over the summer.  He can play an outside and inside game, but look for the confidence that he lacked as a freshman to be very much a factor early in the season as he shows the difference a year can make.
Scott Grayson:
Keaton Miles - This is a deep team and I struggled with this pick.  Dom Rutledge is a good pick as he'll get more comfortable in Huggins' system, but I'm going to take Miles.  While he had a hard time buying a bucket last season, he took that to heart and spent a lot of time this offseason working on his jump shot.  Making a few jumpers will only open up the occasional drive to the hole for Miles.  Look for him to be more consistent this year and possibly contribute a couple of double-doubles.  While he'll continue to be counted on for his rebounding and defense, Miles will become a key contributor on the scoreboard this season.
Matt Allevato:
Dominique Rutledge – The senior forward has constantly improved his game since he first arrived at WVU from junior college, and that was apparent in last season's Big East Tournament loss to Connecticut when he grabbed 11 rebounds.  He could be counted on to provide big minutes during the season if Aaric Murray fails to live up to his potential or gets in foul trouble.  The frontline depth of Kilicli, Murray, Rutledge and Noreen should allow Huggins to not wear his big men down also while taking an aggressive, physical approach both offensively and defensively in the paint.

Most Impressive Non-Conference Win
Geoff Coyle:
vs. Michigan (Brooklyn, N.Y.) on Dec. 15 - This is early, this is a reach, but this would be big.  Picture last season's chance to take out a top 10 Baylor team and then transition it to a Mountaineers squad that has a year of experience, though admittedly, no Kevin Jones.
Scott Grayson:
at Gonzaga on Nov. 12 - Yes, I am picking WVU to win tonight against the 'Zags.  I expect Gonzaga to struggle to figure out how to prepare for this Mountaineer team with all the new players on this squad.  That, coupled with the pure emotion and desire to get some payback on the Bulldogs after what they did to the Mountaineers in the NCAA tournament, will motivate this team to pull off a shocking win to open the season.  This WVU team will run the floor while still rebound the ball and playing tight defense, which should present issues for Gonzaga.
Matt Allevato:
vs. Michigan (Brooklyn, N.Y.) on Dec. 15 – The Wolverines come into this season highly ranked in the top five, but as Mountaineer fans saw during the John Beilein era, when his team struggles to make shots from the outside, they aren't near as dominant.  While this season's Michigan team has far more talent than any of his previous teams in Morgantown possessed, I could see the unfamiliar environment in Brooklyn and the physical nature of Huggins' team giving them a major scare come mid-December.

Most Impressive Big 12 Conference Win
Geoff Coyle:
vs. Kansas on Jan. 28 - WVU will be hosting its first Big Monday game of the season and the Coliseum should be as loud as it has ever been with the Jayhawks making their Morgantown debut as a conference foe.  Could my answer to this change dramatically on Jan. 27th?  Yes.  But for now, this team is flying under the radar and can use a rowdy crowd to its advantage.
Scott Grayson:
vs. Kansas on Jan. 28 - Clearly I am high on this team if I picked them to win at Gonzaga and knock off Kansas.  Here is my thought: WVU will play Kansas twice, and the Mountaineers will win one of those two games, most likely at home.  The Coliseum will definitely be rocking when they meet on Big Monday and that energy will help lift this WVU team to a huge Big 12 victory.
Matt Allevato:
vs. Baylor on Feb. 27 – Baylor returns one of the nation's best backcourts with Pierre Jackson and sharpshooter Brady Heslip, but that also appears to be a strength for the Mountaineers this year.  I'm still not sold on Scott Drew being as good of a gameday coach as he is recruiter, and losing Perry Jones III, Quincy Acy and Quincy Miller does not help.  True freshman seven-footer and five-star recruit Isaiah Austin sprained his ankle is his first collegiate action on Friday and is out indefinitely.  Assuming he heals up, it remains to be seen if he can handle some of the more physical frontline duos in the Big 12, such as Kilicli and Murray at WVU.
Final Regular Season Record (31 games) and Postseason Projection
Geoff Coyle:
I see the Mountaineers finishing the regular season 21-10 and earning a 6-seed in the NCAA tournament.  Last season was a bitter disappointment for the young players at WVU, but also a wonderful teaching opportunity for Huggs.  An overachieving bunch will prove to the Big 12 what the Big East never seemed to learn - preseason polls nearly always picks Huggins' squad too low.
Scott Grayson:
Anyone who projects this Mountaineer team to miss the NCAA tournament clearly has not paid attention to trends.  Bob Huggins has led WVU to the dance every season he has been in Morgantown, so expect that trend to continue.  WVU will challenge for the Big 12 title in its first season in the league and just may win it.  The Mountaineers will go 25-6 in the regular season and earn a 3-seed in the NCAA tournament.  I expect this team to continue to develop and become a very tough out by the end of the season.  I like WVU to advance to at least the Sweet 16 and if the matchups fall into place, potentially go even deeper into March.
Matt Allevato:
I think the Mountaineers will finish 22-9 and earn a 6-seed in the NCAA tournament.  The schedule is tough, but not as difficult as previous years in the Big East, and two games each against Big 12 bottom-dwellers Oklahoma, Texas Tech and TCU should bring down WVU's RPI a bit come Selection Sunday.  I'd be very surprised if Huggins doesn't have this team finishing in the top half of the conference.  If Aaric Murray can live up to the NBA hype that has been placed upon him and Staten can become the best point guard in a WVU uniform since Darris Nichols, then another special run in March is not out of the question.

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