WVU Sports with Mike Casazza

WVU v. Texas Tech: Headbantage, Rebels

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You are looking live inside United Spirit Arena, where WVU will tango with Texas Tech in just a little bit and where the Red Raiders will enjoy a home court advantage and a sizable edge in headbands. That’s Deaflympics bronze medalist Luke Adams at the foul line and Shooter! Dusty Hannahs at the 3-point line. Seriously, Hannahs is the maybe the only guy who is much of a threat from the arch.

The Mountaineers have an esteemed fraternity of headbandits: Kevin Jones, John Flowers, Dan Jennings, Devin Ebanks … I could go on  to D’or Fischer, Chaz Briggs, Drew Schifino … but they haven’t had a member these past two seasons. And these past two seasons have been unkind. I sincerely doubt this is a coincidence.

The Red Raiders will need all the power of the headbands absent a student a section and whatever energy was expended and lost as they rallied from down 15 points in the second half Saturday and lost 73-62 here against Iowa State.

There are no motorcycles in the gym this season, either. That’s a shame…

Then again, perhaps WVU has lost some GQ mojo. Eron Harris has ditched the neon green socks.

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That shot did not go in, by the way.

And since you can’t wait for the update, no, there is no sign of Jonathan Holton, nor was there any sort of news delivered from the NCAA to the Mountaineers today. I’m going to create a hashtag for this saga.

Example: WVU could use some help inside against a Texas Tech team that pounds it down low and pushes for paint touches. #NoHolton

Or …

The Mountaineers pass the eyeball test standing next to these Red Raiders. #NoHolton

Seriously, WVU has to play big inside. Texas Tech has scored 543 of its 1,029 points in the paint this season. That’s 38.8 points per game, and that would be a school record. The Red Raiders don’t shoot or make 3-pointers — they get 18.3 percent of their points from outside, the 10th lowest percentage among power conference teams — because they shoot 53.3 percent from 2-point range and get 61.4 percent of their scoring there — the fifth highest total in the country.

Forwards Jaye Crockett (14.1 points per game) and Jordan Tolbert (12.5) are both 6-foot-7 and are both shooting 60 percent from the floor. Seven-footer Dejan Kravic can be a handful now that he’s healthy. He’s been fit the past five games and averaged 9.8 points and 6.4 rebounds, and the guy whose tip-in knocked WVU out of the Big 12 Tournament last season has shot 19-for-38 along the way.

Kravic’s nationality? Canadian, of course.

Let’s blog, eh?

Mike Casazza January 6, 20147:34 pm

Henderson is WVU’s perpetually-and-sometimes-inexplicably confident guy. He’s never up or down, in his POV. He’ll do anything if he gets a chance, and I kind of think you need a guy like that just to push through things sometimes. That transition crossover on Adams was one such moment.

Mike Casazza January 6, 20147:31 pm

The Staten post up is interesting because Henderson and Harris can shoot and Watkins and Williams do make cuts. Let’s see how long Adams plays and if WVU sticks with it.

Mike Casazza January 6, 20147:27 pm

John Higgins, everybody. He’s the guy who drove WVU absolutely insane a few times last season, most memorably and most notably in the Big 12 tourney loss to Texas Tech, by the way.

Mike Casazza January 6, 20147:25 pm

Staten had an 0-for-2 at the line earlier after finishing Saturday’s game with a 3-for-6 spell. He goes 1-for-2 here to put WVU ahead 28-24.

Mike Casazza January 6, 20147:23 pm

There’s three on Dibo and he hasn’t broken a sweat doing it. Adrian has two, as well. This is TTU’s game plan and so far it’s working, though not spectacularly.

Mike Casazza January 6, 20147:22 pm

Just terrible luck with the the internet here, but WVU is up 27-22 thanks to eight TCU turnovers, and early surge by Henderson and pretty good shooting (11-22/4-9).

WVU is cycling through bigs, though. Dibo had two inexpensive fouls, but is back in the game. Noreen started and sat after just two minutes. Willliams and Watkins have been one duo to play together and Dibo and Nathan Adrian have been another.

Texas Tech has a 14-7 rebounding advantage, but is down 12-10 in paint scoring.

Mike Casazza January 6, 20147:09 pm

…and we’re back. TTU has been raining 3s (plural … two), but Henderson was hot early and has eight points as WVU has cycled through bigs and finally got a hoop from Harris for a 20-14 lead.

Mike Casazza January 6, 20146:52 pm

Naturally, TT opens with a 3.

Mike Casazza January 6, 20146:51 pm

Also, this is the most barely filled arena I’ve been in.

Mike Casazza January 6, 20146:49 pm

And let’s keep an eye on the X-factor, I think, for Texas Tech. Junior college transfer Robert Turner is the piece that doesn’t fit. He’s the third-leading scorer (9.4) and has plays the second-most minutes (27.3.) He’s been a really bad shooter — 47-for-126, 37.3 percent. He shoots a lot and takes a bunch of 3s and it’s sort of against the grain.

Mike Casazza January 6, 20146:47 pm

No promises on the wifi here. I dislike this place. It’s where I fell off of press row and into the student section last season because you’re herded and crammed into a small area that’s suited for one row of the media and instead has two.