Franklin’s Take: Lookahead to WVU Basketball in November
How will WVU’s basketball team fare in November?
By Franklin Markel
The Mountaineers are heading into the 2017-2018 basketball season with high expectations. They enter the season ranked number eleven in the AP poll and number ten in the USA today coaches poll. Guard Jevon Carter is viewed as one of the best players in the country and was voted SI’s preseason defensive player of the year. Daxter Miles JR, Lamont West, and Sagaba Konate are expected to improve on already great performances last year. For the first ten games WVU will be without forward Esa Ahmad who is serving a suspension. Basketball season is back and here’s how the November games look for WVU:
Texas A&M November 10th, RAMSTEIN-MIESENBACH, GERMANY
The season opens with a bang. The 25th ranked Texas A&M Aggies meet the Mountaineers in Germany for the Armed Forces Classic. This is a Aggies team that is going to sneak up on people. They have an all conference center in Tonny Trocha-Morelo. They also have a future NBA lottery pick in Robert Williams, as a freshman last year he dropped 12 a game and is a third team preseason all american. He will, however, sit out this game after violating team rules. Admon Gilder and DJ Hogg, two key pieces to the Aggies team, were also expected to sit out but will get to play in the WVU game. Tyler Davis is 6’10 and averaged 14 points per game last year. The Junior center will need to make up for the loss of Williams in the front court. A key addition is Freshman Jay Jay Chandler. He’s a 4 star recruit and after sitting out last year he should get a heavy workload as the season goes on. Guard Duane Wilson is a Marquette grad transfer and is coming off a 9.6 PPG average last year. This is a very good Texas A&M team and they should make it an interesting game. However, I think the loss of WIlliams will be too much to handle for the Aggies.
PREDICTION WVU 78 TA&M 71
American November 15th, MORGANTOWN, WV
The home opener comes for WVU against American University. American was 5-13 last year in the Patriot conference and they had a season total of eight wins. This team is very young, 11 players are sophomores and freshman and the team does not have a single senior. Being young doesn’t mean they don’t have talent, though. Sophomore Point Guard Sa’eed Nelson averaged 14.9 PPG last year as a freshman and is second team all Patriot Conference. Sophomore Mark Gasperini averaged 11.7 PPG last season and 4.9 rebounds at the center position. The roster does have experience with players like junior Larry Motuzis who transferred from Saint Xavier. In his time there he put up 20.7 Points per game and after sitting out last season is a scoring threat this year for American. This is a young team that in a year I think can compete for a Patriot League championship but they just don’t have it this year.
PREDICTION WVU 89 AU 54
Morgan State November 18th, MORGANTOWN, WV
Following the American game WVU plays host to Morgan State before the Advocare Invitational. Morgan State is projected by many to win the MEAC this year. They bring back nearly their whole team from last season. Senior guard Tiwian Kendley is first team all MEAC after averaging 21 PPG last season. Forward Philip Carr dropped 16.8 per game, grabbed 9.6 rebounds per game, and also took home MEAC defensive player of the year honors. Add the two together and Morgan State has a very solid senior class, WVU needs to be careful. Recent transfer Alex Ennis is a solid center and grabs a lot of rebounds but Morgan State does need to adjust to the loss of Kyle Thomas and his 10 PPG through his 4 year career in Baltimore.
PREDICTION WVU 85 MSU 62
Long Beach State November 20th MORGANTOWN, WV
WVU opens up the Advocare Invitational with a campus game vs Long Beach State out of the Big West conference. This team has two standout stars. The brightest is senior forward Gabe Levin who averaged 12.2 points and 6.8 rebounds in the team’s first 16 games before his season ending with a injury. Levin is preseason first team all Big South. He is joined on that list by teammate Temidayo Yussuf. The forward averaged 13.4 points per game in conference games last year as a sophomore. This year he is expected to grow tremendously and he tops the conference on rebounds and points. LBS Guard Barry Ogalue is expected to start this season after seeing two starts at the end of last year. He averaged 5.2 points per game last season but in his first start he dropped 16 on 7-7 shooting. Long Beach State was only 9-7 in the Big West last season but is expected to win the conference this year behind an improved Levin and Yussuf. WVU should come out on top but this game isn’t a cupcake.
PREDICTION WVU 84 LBS 69
Marist November 23 LAKE BUENA VISTA, FL
The first non campus game of the tourney comes against the Marist Red Foxes. Ryan Funk is a sharp shooter who shot 41 percent from deep last year and averaged 12 points per game. He is part of a very talented junior class including guard Brian Parker, forward Isaiah Lamb, and Kristinn Palsson. Parker avraged 12.9 points per game last year and added 5.6 rebounds. Lamb started 18 games last year and averaged 6 points a game. Palsson started 16 and dropped 4.4 a game. All 4 of these juniors should see their fair share of stars this season, but this is a Marist team that is not expected to go very far. They’re projected to finish 10th in the conference and I don’t see a way they prove those expectations wrong.
PREDICTION WVU 97 Marist 68
Possible Advocare Invitational Games
The story for Missouri is the Porter brothers. Number one recruit in the country Michael Porter Jr is already one of the best players in the college game. He is on most preseason all american first teams and is joined by his reclassed brother Jontay Porter who averaged a double double in high school. The Porter brothers are college basketball’s best sibling duo and should give WVU a good game, but the lack of talent around them let’s WVU have the upper hand.
The UCF Knights have a very rare talent in 7-6 center Tacko Fall. His pure height gives teams fits. Junior forward BJ Taylor averaged 17.4 PPG in 27 starts. Add Texas Tech transfer Rokas Ulvydas and they make a very solid front court for the Knights. This is a talented UCF team but they lack depth. WVU should be able to beat them.
This is a team led by guard Glynn Watson Jr who started 29 games last season and dropped 13 PPG. This team had a solid recruiting class and added transfer Isaac Copeland from Georgetown. But the former top 20 recruit might not eligible for the first half of the year. Jack McVeigh will start after getting 11 starts last season in which he averaged 22.9 minutes and 9 points. Nebraska is in a very rough spot this year and WVU can handle them with ease.
St Johns is expected to have a huge bounce back season. They are predicted by many to contend with the best in the Big East. This is mostly because of the young superstar back court. Marcus LoVett is just a sophomore and averaged 15.9 points per game last year and sophomore Shamorie Ponds also averaged 17.4. Add in senior Bashir Ahmed, who scored 13.4 PPG last year, and St John’s is in a very good position to compete for a spot in March Madness. With that said, this young team needs a feeling out process and should fall to the Mountaineers.
The Beavers took a major step back last year. This year they should improve with a healthy Tres Tinkle who averaged 20 PPG in the six games he was healthy last season. Ethan Thompson has a NBA future and is taking on his first year in Oregon State. The addition of grad transfer Seth Burger from UMASS also adds some stability for the ducks. This is a solid pac 12 team but WVU has a big advantage.
PREDICTION WVU WINS THE ADVOCARE INVITATIONAL TOURNAMENT
NJIT November 30th MORGANTOWN, WV
NJIT lost 4 starters from last season. The biggest loss is Damon Lynn who averaged 20.7 PPG last season. As it stands now, the core is Anthony Tarke who averaged 9.9 PPG and 17.3 in the team’s final 7 games. NJIT also has Abdul Lewis who averaged 9.7 points per game last season. If JUCO transfer Diandre Wilson can play well (22 PPG in JUCO) then NJIT can play a solid game. This team has talent but so many questions.
PREDICTION WVU 87 NJIT 51
WVU really has a easy start to the season. With that said, they need to play well, there are some solid teams from the mid majors that can sneak up on them. I do expect West Virginia to handle the whole November schedule and start the season 8-0.