Penn State vs. West Virginia College Basketball Preview

posted November 2, 2018 in Sports, CommRadio by Pasquale Tartaro

With non-conference play set to tip off in under a week, Penn State will take on West Virginia at the WVU Coliseum on Saturday, Nov. 3, in an exhibition contest where the proceeds will benefit the American Red Cross’ post-Hurricane Florence relief efforts.

Although this will be the first matchup between the Nittany Lions and the Mountaineers since
1991, this game should aid both teams in preparing for regular season play.

Bob Huggins and his Mountaineers are coming off of a year in which they were bounced out of
the NCAA tournament in the sweet sixteen by the soon be national champions, the Villanova
Wildcats.

On the other hand, Pat Chambers and his Nittany Lions did not qualify for the NCAA
tournament last season, but were crowned NIT champions at Madison Square Garden in
convincing fashion.

Before diving into how these two teams match up, let’s take a look at the personnel on each side:

West Virginia Mountaineers

Key returners: Esa Ahmad, Sagaba Konate, James Bolden, Lamont West and Wesley Harris.

Key departures: Senior backcourt Jevon Carter (17.3 ppg., 6.6 apg., 3.0 spg) and Daxter Miles
(12.9 ppg.) graduated; Teddy Allen (7.0 ppg.) transfered.

Key newcomers: Jermaine Haley (JUCO), Andrew Gordon (JUCO), Jordan McCabe, Derek
Culver, Emmitt Matthews Jr. and Trey Doomes.

As Bob Huggins has admitted himself, the process of overcoming the loss of his experienced
backcourt will certainly be a challenge for the Mountaineers this season. Throughout the past
four years, Jevon Carter was undeniably one of the best defensive players in the country, and he
and Miles were also the two main options on the offensive end for the Mountaineers.

However, Huggins retains an exciting, solid frontcourt in Konate and Ahmad. The question as to
who will take over the offensive responsibilities remains to be addressed, but due to its
phenomenal defensive culture and coaching staff, West Virginia was able to claim the No. 13 spot in the
first AP top 25 rankings.

Penn State Nittany Lions

Key returners: Junior forward, and last season’s NIT MVP Lamar Stevens (15.5 ppg), First-team
All-Big Ten Defense honoree Mike Watkins, Jamari Wheeler and Josh Reaves

Key losses: Leading scorer Tony Carr (19.6 ppg) and sharpshooter Shep Garner (11.4 ppg.,
43.3% from 3)

Key additions: Myles Dread, Rasir Bolton, Myreon Jones and Danlil Kasatkin

Coming off a NIT championship, as well as a respectable 9-9 year in the Big Ten, there is a lot
for Chambers to be optimistic about. In Stevens, Watkins and Reaves, the Lions
have a strong veteran core. But with Carr gone, it will be interesting to see what Penn State will
do at point guard. While Rasir Bolton will most likely get his chances as a freshman,
Stevens and Reaves may potentially have to take on more ball handling responsibilities.
Nevertheless, it should be an exciting season for the Lions as they look to build upon last year's
accomplishments with the goal of making the NCAA tournament.

Keys to the game:

For Penn State:

When pinpointing Penn State’s keys for potentially knocking off “Press Virginia," it has to start
with Bob Huggins’ vintage, full court, man-to-man press. Obviously, the manner in which
the Nittany Lions handle the full court pressure is essential, but another factor is their activity on
the defensive end.

If Penn State can get stops and win the rebounding battle, it will limit West Virginia's ability
to set up their press during dead balls, and could also wind up getting easy buckets in transition.

For West Virginia:

With inexperience at point guard for Nittany Lions, look for Mountaineers to be even more
aggressive on the defensive end, whether they are trapping in their full court press, or double
teaming the ball handler off of ball screens.

Also, it is important to remember the inexperience at guard for the Mountaineers as well. The
outcome of this game could very well depend on which young guard on either team steps up and
controls the pace of the game.

 

 

Pasquale Tartaro is a freshman majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email him at
pbt5097@psu.edu.