West Virginia will play host to Duquesne on Friday night in a charity exhibition game to benefit the Dayton Oregon District Tragedy Fund.
Head coach Bob Huggins and the Mountaineers have done well in burying the memory of last season's dismal showing, boasting an off-season littered with "good vibes" and recruiting trail victories that will lead any West Virginia fan to believe a great season is on the horizon.
Yet despite how good the Mountaineers are suppose to be this season, there are a handful of questions about Huggins' team that must be answered.
Here are six questions that could be answered during Friday's exhibition against the Dukes.
Is Oscar Tshiebwe Worth the Price of Admission?
Affectionately known as the "Big 'O', Tshiebwe is only the second McDonald's All-American to sign with the Mountaineers. For the most part, the 6-foot-9, 250-pound former five-star forward is expected to be the flag-carrier for West Virginia towards the NCAA Tournament and beyond. Is he that good? Against lesser competition no doubt, Oscar should be a star against Duquesne on Friday night. It wouldn't be all that surprising if he ends the night as the game's statistical leader.
Big Improvement for Jordan McCabe?
After having his leash lengthened over the latter part of last season, McCabe finally showed flashes of what and who he is expected to be in Morgantown. The sophomore averaged well over 30 minutes per game in the Mountaineers' last 10 games of the season, averaging 13.5 points and 5 assists per game while shooting 38% from beyond the arc. There's often an uptick in production as freshmen move into their sophomore season. Hopefully, that's the case for McCabe this year.
Can the New Guys Shoot the Lights Out?
Time and time again, Huggins fielded countless questions about what exactly makes this year's squad that much different from last season. And time and time again, Huggins inserted the same answer.
"We can actually make shots," Huggins commented at the beginning of the month. "We look at Sean (McNeil) as an elite shooter. Taz (Sherman) can really make shots."
If anything has been missing from some of the elite West Virginia teams of the past, it's been the ability to hit open, uncontested shots. The combination of Sherman and McNeil, who combined to average over 50 points per contest in the JUCO ranks, will be called on early and often to fill it up from deep.
To Press or Not to Press?
Back in June, Huggins hinted and assured that "Press Virginia" was not dead and buried. As a defensive-minded coach, it makes sense that the gritty veteran plans on using the length and speed of his team to make his opponents uncomfortable. But that doesn't mean the Mountaineers will press 90 feet for 40 minutes like it once did. At least with McCabe running the point it won't. For all the greatness McCabe brings on the offensive end, his defense leaves much to be desired. The question now becomes when does West Virginia press? When do they not?
What Will West Virginia do with Deuce McBride?
The freshman point guard can shoot the ball, defend on the perimeter and rebounds as well as any guard on West Virginia's roster. How can Huggins NOT put McBride on the court? With McCabe shouldering big minutes at the point, it's difficult to pinpoint exactly where Deuce finds his role, but he's going to play. And maybe, given his prowess as a formidable defender, McBride is the reason West Virginia decides to dial up the press when he is on the court. Either way, the stage has been set for the rookie from Cincinnati to become a special player.
And What About Derek Culver and Emmitt Matthews Jr.?
With the addition of Tshiebwe and a handful of immediate impact players set to make their college debut, the pair of Culver and Matthews Jr. have largely flown under the radar. Culver, who was snubbed as the Big XII's Freshman of the Year after averaging a double-double a season ago, is probably used to be overlooked at this point. Matthews Jr., who was tabbed as the most improved player by Huggins over the summer, is primed for a monster season. Their names might not be flying around as much as they should, but they will be.