WVU Hoops Practice Marred by Eligibility Concerns - WVU Football, WVU Basketball, News - Mountaineer Sports

WVU Hoops Practice Marred by Eligibility Concerns

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MORGANTOWN -

Bob Huggins met with the media Monday ahead of the start of practice for West Virginia basketball and the first questions he fielded were all in relation to players who may or may have a role on the team this year.

Which of the newcomers were eligible, which weren't and when would we have concrete answers? Huggins had said in the summer that he felt like each of WVU's six new scholarship athletes would be ready when the season opened, but now, the tune has changed.

Elijah Macon, the 6-foot-9, 230-pound forward who initially signed for the 2012 class before taking a year in prep school, is enrolled at WVU, but not yet eligible to practice with the team. Huggins called that detail a moot point as Macon continues to deal with a wrist injury in addition to a toe issue that the head coach is hoping is not turf toe.

Asked if Macon, for injury or eligibility, would not be able to play this season, Huggins gave an opinion that he surely wishes he didn't have.

"I think, yeah," Huggins said, indicating Macon would not be playing in 2013. "I think it would be more that way than the other way."

Macon was the only one of four freshmen who did not appear in the Pittsburgh Pro Am Summer League, as Devin Williams, Nathan Adrian and Brandon Watkins each participated with sophomores Terry Henderson and Eron Harris along with a slew of walk-ons.

Missing from action, too, were transfers Jonathan Holton and Remi Dibo, both of whom have since been deemed eligible to join the team. Holton, practicing with the Mountaineers, remains a question mark as far as playing in the season is concerned.

"I think that we'll have a final answer probably at the end of the week, I would guess," Huggins said. "This time of the year, I don't think it makes any difference. As we get closer, it makes a big difference."

Huggins admitted that he did not know all of the answers to the questions he faced regarding eligibility, nor did he know how much he was allowed to discuss publicly. It is safe to assume that the staff was well aware of the potential complications surrounding Macon and had planned to enter the season without his contributions.

It is also safe to assume that even with two hours each week to work with the players, the staff is just as eager to see exactly what this new-look team is capable of as the fans are. After five players left the program in the offseason, not counting seniors, there is a sense of renewal for the Mountaineers and Huggins is hoping it won't be a work in progress.

These new players, Huggins believes, set up for better competition in the Big 12, as his old roster was built for a run in the Big East.

"It's an entirely different league in terms of style of play and officiating. So much more spread offenses, so much more penetrate and pitch, so much more predicated on pick and roll," said Huggins.

Many of the roster additions, long players who can spread the court, were done because of what WVU faced last season. The plan is to get that threat both on the outside and the inside, opening up lanes that did not exist a year ago.

Most of all, Huggins says these players need to go back to what the 2010 Final Four squad did, which is to do what they can do. Too often in the past two seasons, players have tried to do more than they are truly capable of and the results were evident.

Practice is underway, and Huggins tweeted Monday evening that the first one went well. They'll need to continue that way with a brand new look to improve on the 13-19 debacle of a year ago.

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