|Preview: WVU - VMI|
West Virginia opens its home 2012-13 basketball schedule with a sneaky-tough game against VMI.
SCOUTING THE KEYDETS
VMI? Sounds like an easy win for WVU -- at least, that's the reaction many have upon looking at this game. However, as with any scoring team, the Keydets have the ability to knock off opponents that can't defend or match their pace of play.
To support that speed, VMI has nine players averaging at least 12.5 minutes per game. Substitutions are frequent in their games, and there is good chemistry between the players as they are mixed and matched on the floor.
Forward Stan Okoye (6-6, 215 lbs.) leads the scoring onslaught for VMI, averaging 21 points per game, which is no surprise considering his status as the Big South Conference preseason Player of the Year. He's making more than 50% of his shots, and his solid three-point percentage makes him a threat anywhere on the floor. He's also the team's top rebounder, and always has the green light to shoot. Alongside Okoye, Nick Gore (6-6, 215 lbs.) is the only starter not averaging double figures, but his contributions are healthy at 7.8 points and 6.0 rebounds per game. Center D. J. Covington (6-9, 235 lbs.) adds even more scoring punch, with 15.5 points per game, and he's been productive against VMI's toughest foes, posting 23 points against Virginia Tech and a near triple-double in a win over Old Dominion. He's also averaging three blocked shots per outing.
Guards Rodney Glasgow (5-10, 170 lbs.) and Brian Brown (5-11, 185 lbs.) are the pacesetters for the offense, but they also are serious scoring threats. Brown hits 41.5% of his threes, and he shoots almost exclusively from long distance. Glasgow's game is more evenly balanced, but he too can generate points from beyond the arc. He also leads the team in assists, averaging 5.0 per game.
Off the bench, Gavin Stephenson and Tim Marshall each get more than 13 minutes per game in the backcourt. They combine for 8.5 points per game, but their most important contributions are in keeping VMI's attack running at top speed. A pair of freshmen, Dorian Albritton and Phillip Anglade, provide the bulk of support inside, and each is productive. Albritton averages 5.8 points in 15 minutes of action, while Anglade chips in 4.2 points in 12.5 minutes.
West Virginia will attempt to match pace with the Keydets, who play an uptempo style under head coach Duggar Baucom, but it would be wise to try to establish its interior game as well, as it will have a decided height advantage.
VMI shouldn't be able to counter West Virginia's height advantage, as center D.J. Covington is the only player with appreciable minutes who stands taller than six feet, six inches. However, like Davidson, the Keydets play the game with smarts. While they do average nearly 15 turnovers per game, that's offset by the fact that they generate extra possessions with their pace of play. West Virginia will have to emphasize getting back on defense and spreading out to cover the three-point line. VMI excels at pushing the ball upcourt and collapsing the defense, then kicking it out for three-point attempts. They have already trieed 175 this season, and have generated 171 points off those shots.
VMI averages 85 points per game, and if it approaches that number, it will likely knock off the Mountaineers at home. West Virginia must improve its halfcourt efficiency, but it must also cover VMI's shooters all over the court, especially early in possessions.
This is the home opener for WVU's 2012-13 season. With four games already under its belt, this is the latest home debut for WVU since the 2003-04 season. Under John Belein, the Mountaineers opened on the road at James Madison and didn't play at home until Nov. 29, when it dropped a91-84 decision to Northeastern. The Mountaineers are 94-9 all-time in home openers.
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VMI is first in the Big South and tenth overall in the NCAA in scoring, averaging 85.3 points per game. The Keydets are also first and 12th, respectively, in three-point field goals per game (9.5).
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Thirty-two of West Virginia's 51 turnovers this year have been unforced. Foes have just 19 steals against the Mountaineers to date, meaning that WVU has given the ball away eight times per game without cause.
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West Virginia native Q.J. Peterson signed a letter of intent with VMi during the early signing period. The 6-1 guard played his high school basketball at Hedgesville High School before spending a year at Massanutten Military Academy.
Moore follows another state native, Gay Elmore, to VMI. Elmore, who played for the Leydets from 1983-87, still holds school records for 20-point games (68) and career free throws made (653).