The West Virginia Mountaineers men’s basketball team held its annual Gold and Blue Debut Friday night.
There are several unknowns with the 2021-22 edition of Mountaineer basketball. West Virginia head coach Bob Huggins is looking to replace leading scorers Miles McBride and Derek Culver, along with the departures of Emmitt Matthews Jr. and Jordan McCabe.
Huggins has seven newcomers this season. Freshman Kobe Johnson finished the night shooting 4-5 from three-point range and transfer forward Dimon Carrigan played above the rim and was on the receiving end of a couple of alley-oops, finishing the night with 10 points. Old Dominion transfer guard Malik Curry had a game-high seven assists.
The Mountaineers are returning leading scorers Sean McNeil and Taz Sherman. The two were pinned against each other with McNeil going for 16 points on 7-15 from the field but teammate Jalen Bridges led all scorers with 21 points, hitting 5-8 from behind the arc. Meanwhile, Sherman put up just six points but got his teammates involved, with some nice passes for five assists.
Sophomore Taj Thweatt appears to have had a nice offseason. The forward played with more confidence, had a couple of slam dunks, and hit a pair of threes for 10 points. Senior forward Gabe Osabuohien shot the ball a lot better, also driving the ball to the basket, using the Euro Step, and finishing at the rim, while still doing the little things on both ends of the floor. He finished with 10 points and a steal.
Freshman Kobe Johnson went 4-5 from behind the arc for 16 points. After coming off an ACL injury early last season, Isaiah Cottrell looks 100%. He is deadly from mid-range, and has finesse around the basket. He went 7-9 from the field, including 1-2 from behind the arc. Freshman guard Jamel King showed flashes of what his future may hold in Morgantown. Late in the action, King drove down the lane and had a huge dunk over a defender. He had seven points.
Defensively, West Virginia did not show much and there is always a lack of defense in these things, primarily to keep players from getting injured.
Overall, the team seems like they can shoot and score in bunches but passing the ball is still an issue, along with, at times, handling the ball. However, they did pressure on occasion.
We will get our first good look at the team on October 29th in a charity exhibition against Akron at 7:00 pm.
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