Now I'm not going to sit here and blow smoke up your ass and tell you that this team is going back to the sweet 16 or anything like that. I like to think I'm a little more objective. West Virginia still hasn't played anyone of any major consequence. But the overall speed and size of the team is actually a little better than last year. And there isn't really a huge drop off in the things that made the teams from the last two years successful. They're creating turnovers and they aren't turning the ball over. They aren't shooting lights out from three point range, but they aren't doing too bad. The one thing that last years team really missed was someone that could take the ball to the basket and create their own shots. This year I think they have three such players in Joe Alexander, Darius Nichols, and Da'Shean Butler.
As far as big men go, I think Rob Summers has stepped his game up a bit. He's not going to be stepping beyond the arc too many times, but he is going to play defense and grab rebounds. And his backup, Jamie Smalligan is a 7 footer that will step out and take a few three's every game. He's not the same as Pittsnogle, but he can make a fair amount. And he's a couple steps faster, it seems, than Pittsnogle.
And, oh yeah, I didn't leave Frank Young out. He's had 14, 21, and 11 his last three games. Being the only starter from last years team, he's taken to the role of being a leader.
Young was 8 of 16 including 5 of 10 from 3-point distance and Alexander was 8 of 13 to help West Virginia shoot 50 percent for the game (28 of 56).
Young, a senior forward, was able to have a career-high night in front of several friends and family making the trip over from his hometown of Tallahassee, Fla.
It's hard to say how good these guys are going to be until they get into the Big East schedule. But, I think it's pretty fair to say that they are ahead of schedule. When Pat Beilein, Joe Herbert, Kevin Pittsnogle, and DJ Collins were freshman, they weren't nearly this far along. What probably held them back was not having enough leadership on that team. This one has Young, Nichols, and Summers to lead the way, plus a couple guys that were seeing the floor from time to time like Alex Ruoff and Joe Alexander. Just like last years team, though, I think they are going to be fun to watch.