On Monday night, West Virginia opened up their season with a win over Mount St. Mary’s 76-58. With this being a completely new team from last season, a lot has changed. Let’s take a look at what stood out in the Mountaineers’ first win of the year.
Give the Ball to Tre Mitchell
Going into the game, it was unlikely that Texas transfer Tre Mitchell would contribute a lot in WVU’s opening game. Mitchell came off the bench after dealing with a foot injury throughout the preseason and still played great. Mitchell finished with 13 points in 14 minutes. The 6-foot-9 forward shot 4-of-7 from the field, connecting on a pair of three’s.
Mitchell has shown in the past that he can be the go-to guy in an offense. In his freshman year at UMass, Mitchell averaged 17.7 points on efficient shooting. The Pittsburgh native can score at all three levels on the floor and can be West Virginia’s leading scorer this season.
Wague, Okonkwo, Harris Show Potential in Frontcourt
One surprising takeaway from the season opener was how well the underclassmen played. Coming into the season, Mohamed Wague was listed as one of my x-factors for the team, but I didn’t expect James Okonkwo to play quality minutes and play well. Wague finished with a near-double-double of nine points and nine rebounds. Okonkwo had two points, five rebounds and two blocks. Okonkwo and Wague gave Mount St. Mary’s problems scoring inside on Monday.
Freshman Josiah Harris showed a lot of energy in his Mountaineer debut. Harris, a forward from Canton, Ohio, pulled down five rebounds in 15 minutes. West Virginia’s frontcourt shows that they may be a problem for opposing teams in the future.
Rebounding is Much Improved
Last season West Virginia needed to have a team effort in the rebounding category. The team finished as one of the worst teams in the country in rebounding, something Bob Huggins is not familiar with. Over the offseason, the coaching staff picked up players to help return back to a good rebounding team. Huggins mentioned that he wasn’t happy with the rebounding, but that’s something he won’t be satisfied with. Considering last season, WVU’s rebounding was much improved from last year, regardless of the opponent.
West Virginia finished with 45 rebounds. Rebounding line for WVU: Wague (9), Matthews (7), Bell (7), Harris (5), Okonkwo (5).