No. 12 WVU hosts streaking TCU

West Virginia looks for its third-straight win Tuesday night when the Mountaineers host the surprise team of the Big 12. TCU (12-3, 3-0 Big 12) was a consensus pick to finish in the conference basement in the Big 12 preseason pool, but the Horned Frogs are off to a strong starting, including winning their first three conference games (Kansas State, 59-57; Oklahoma State, 52-40; Iowa State, 81-79). TCU is tied with No. 2 Baylor atop the conference standings. WVU (13-2, 2-1) has won a pair of conference games after dropping the Big 12 opener in Kansas. Freshman guard Miles McBride continues his rise as one of the Mountaineers best players after scoring a career-best 22 points in Saturday night's win over Texas Tech. TCU is led by senior Desmond Bane (6-foot-6), who leads the team with 17.1 points a game. Bane also tallies seven rebounds a game and 3.5 points a contest. Sophomore Kevin Samuel (6-11) paces the Horned Frogs on the glass, pulling down 8.9 rebounds a game. Sophomore guard R.J. Nembhard leads TCU with 3.6 assists a game. Bane, Nembhard (13.1) and Samuel (10.8) average double-digit scoring for the Horned Frogs. Bane (35.5 minutes a game) and Nembhard (318 mpg) see heavy floor time for TCU, but the Horned Frogs have depth outside of those two. Nine Horned Frogs average more than 12 minutes of playing time a contest. The TCU game is the second of a stretch where the Mountaineers are playing six of eight at home. The game tips off at 9 p.m. and will be broadcast on ESPNU. WVU is a 7 1/2 point favorite. ESPN's BPI heavily favors the Mountaineers.

The 2021 Mountaineers will be the Most Talented West Virginia Team Ever

The West Virginia Mountaineers, 13-2, are off to a sensational start to the season and could absolutely compete for a Big 12 Conference Championship and perhaps a National Championship this season.  After a miserable 15-21 season last year, it is an incredible time to be a West Virginia fan and this season and team should be appreciated. However, looking ahead, the 2020-2021 West Virginia Mountaineers will almost certainly be the best, most talented team in the program's history.  This of course depends on everything going right and everyone coming back, but the team could potentially be a National Championship favorite next season. Oscar Tshiebwe, the fabulous Freshman Forward, is absolutely athletically gifted enough to declare for the NBA Draft right now, but he is still very raw and would benefit from another season in Morgantown.  Bob Huggins will have the unfortunate story of Sagaba Konate to use as an excellent example of what happens if a player leaves prematurely.  I suspect that Tshiebwe will be back for one more season and then declare for the NBA following a remarkable Sophomore year. Derek Culver, although again very talented, is unlikely to be ready for the NBA after this season.  He's perhaps even more raw than Tshiebwe and leaving West Virginia early would be a tremendously poor decision for him to make.  To truly gain the attention of NBA scouts, Culver must improve his post play, develop his mid-range game and learn to play more under control. The players that the Mountaineers will likely lose next year are Seniors Jermaine Haley, Chase Harler and Logan Routt.  Haley is a big, consistent, talented guard and is a pretty massive loss for the team.  Harler has become a reliable shooter and aggressive defender off the bench and Routt is a big body who adds depth on the interior. With that said, there are players on the team currently who will step up to replace the departing Seniors (Sean McNeil and Taz Sherman will play a bigger role) and several incoming players who will make the team even deeper and probably better. Jalen Bridges, who redshirted this season, has benefited from a year of practicing and working out with the team.  A 4 star in-state recruit out of Fairmont, Bridges has the size and skill to get minutes off the bench and contribute immediately.  I erroneously said that West Virginia "didn't need Bridges" over six months ago, but he's clearly going to be an outstanding player for the Mountaineers. Isaiah Cottrell, a 6'10 four star forward, has been absolutely terrific for the juggernaut Huntington Prep team this year.  Although Duke commit Jaemyn Brakefield gets more attention, Cottrell has been the most consistent player on the team and his length and skill will be invaluable for the Mountaineers as a Freshman next season. Taj Thweatt, a three star 6'7 forward out of New Jersey, and Kedrian Johnson, a 6'4 guard who has been mentioned as one of the best JUCO players in the country this season, will be immediate big-time contributors off the bench as well. This year's team is very, very good, but next season's team will be extremely athletic, very deep and without a doubt the most talented team in West Virginia basketball history.  Imagine Miles McBride, Emmitt Matthews, Jr., Derek Culver and Oscar Tshiebwe with another year of experience!  Depending on how the team finishes this season, expect them to be a Preseason Top 5 team and a favorite to win the National Championship next year.

Incredible 2020 West Virginia Basketball Hype Video

West Virginia University student Josh Messe put together an incredible video for the 2020 WVU Basketball season.  Please check out the video below: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HbQQe5IOMhM&feature=youtu.be

Mountaineers Jump in Latest AP Poll

  The West Virginia Mountaineers, following a win on the road at Oklahoma State and a win at home against the #22 ranked Texas Tech Red Raiders, have jumped from #17 to #12  in the latest AP Poll, which was released just moments ago. West Virginia continues play tomorrow night at home against TCU (12-3 overall, 3-0 in Big 12).  The game will air on ESPNU at 9:00PM.

This Team Is Going To Be Special

The Mountaineers, in front of another disappointing, pathetic Coliseum crowd and on a new, sharp basketball court, beat a pesky Duquesne Dukes team 78-70 in a charity exhibition game. Despite occasional struggles throughout the game, the Mountaineers are clearly a deeper, more athletic, better scoring team than last season’s team. Oscar Tshiebwe, the highly-regarded Freshman forward, will average 10-15 rebounds per game this season.  He has a special knack for getting to the basketball and his athleticism is as good as anyone the Mountaineers have ever had.  Tshiebwe finished with 17 points and 14 rebounds in his debut. https://twitter.com/WVUhoops/status/1190405695918637057 Derek Culver, who appears to be able to get to the rim at will, has a far more complete offensive game this season.  Pairing him net to Tshiebwe won’t be fair to the Mountaineers’ opponents this year.  He will likely average a double-double as well. https://twitter.com/WVUhoops/status/1190409367327256578 Newcomer Jalen Bridges, who will likely redshirt this season, looked like he belonged and if West Virginia needs him, he absolutely could play and contribute this season. https://twitter.com/WVUhoops/status/1190412442431639552      

Jalen Bridges Should Play This Season

Jalen Bridges, the 6’7  four star small forward originally from Fairmont, WV, committed to West Virginia University instead of playing a year of prep school basketball.  It was decided by the Bridges family that he would take a year to settle into college, adjust to life in Morgantown and better prepare his body for the rigors of college basketball. Bridges,  who averaged 22.2 points per game at Fairmont Senior and took his team to the state championship game last season, is expected to redshirt this season and be a part of the 2020 class. West Virginia Head Coach Bob Huggins commented on Jalen Bridges recently, saying,  “I think he’s going to be a really good player, but the decision has always been for him to redshirt this season. However, Bridges looks ready right now.  He’s long, athletic, can shoot and although he probably needs to add some weight and muscle, he appears ready to contribute for the Mountaineers right away. https://twitter.com/WVUhoops/status/1190411199646535680   Bridges , who was allowed to play in the exhibition game against Duquesne, has 4 points in limited time in the first half, but has already flashed signs of brilliance. If Bridges remains a Redshirt this season, imagine the production that he will provide for the hometown Mountaineers in the next four seasons!  If it’s decided that he plays this season, Bridges is absolutely ready to step in and contribute for the Mountaineers right away.  Regardless of what’s decided, it’s wonderful to see him in a Mountaineers uniform and a part of the West Virginia basketball program!

Historic Turnaround Coming for WVU Basketball

West Virginia basketball, fresh off a long, embarrassing 2018-2019 season, will go from last place in the Big 12 to first place in the upcoming 2019-2020 season.  Bob Huggins dealt with a variety of issues that led to his undoubtedly his most frustrating season in his long and illustrious career.  This year’s team, aptly known as “The Redeem Team”, is a completely different team and it’s very much a totally fresh start. Gone are the players that caused a lack of cohesiveness and what remains are players that care, that put the team before themselves, that are Bob Huggins’ players through and through.  Jordan McCabe, Emmittt Matthews, Jr., Derek Culver and Jermaine Haley are key cogs from the end of last season and are team-first players.  Enthusiasm is an essential component to the proper functioning of any team but particularly for a Bob Huggins’ team, who demands best effort all of the time.   According to Huggins, the enthusiasm of his players has really stood out during practice so far:  “This year you don’t have to coach enthusiasm.  A year ago, we had to coach effort and basketball and it’s hard to do both.” Every aspect of what has made Bob Huggins successful in the past is in place.  Oscar Tshiebwe and Derek Culver are the type of long, athletic bigs that prioritize rebounding are classic Huggins’ players.  Newcomers Tajzmel “Taz” Sherman, Miles McBride and Sean McNeil are tough guards that know how to win.  McCabe and Matthews, Jr. have reportedly grown physically and added to their already outstanding games since last season. There is a depth to this team that West Virginia lacked last year.  The starting lineup will likely be Jordan McCabe at point guard, Jermaine Haley at the shooting guard position, Emmitt Matthews, Jr. at small forward, Oscar Tshiebwe at power forward and Derek Culver at center.  The bench is loaded with Sherman, McNeil, Miles McBride and returning players Brandon Knapper, Chase Harler and Logan Routt. While West Virginia is on the rise, many of the top-tier Big 12 schools lost a lot of key players from last year’s teams.  The teams that will compete with the Mountaineers at the top of the Big 12 are as follows: Baylor:  The Bears return several of their top players, including Tristan Clark and Mark Vital.  In addition, they added several talented transfers from the JUCO ranks (Freddie Gillespie, Davion Mitchell and MaCio Teague). Texas Tech:  The Red Raiders lost their two best players in Jarrett Culver and Tariq Owens, but are coming off a trip to the National Championship and reloaded with Jahmius Ramsey and graduate transfers Chris Clarke and T.J. Holyfield.  In addition, sharpshooter Davide Moretti returns at point guard. Kansas:  The Jayhawks will always be at the top or near the top of the Big 12 standings and this year is no different.  7’0 center Udoka Azubuike, who has been with the team for what feels like ten years, can be dominant if he can stay healthy.  In addition to Azubuike, they are loaded in the backcourt with point guard Devon Dotson and Marcus Garrett and in the front court with Isaiah Moss and Silvio De Sousa. Although there are several tough, talented teams in the Big 12, there seems to be more question marks than answers for most of them this season.  The Mountaineers do not have many question marks right now and with the best coach in the league, there’s no reason why they shouldn’t be able to go from the last place team last year to the best team this year.

Growing Up Jevon Carter

“Leaders are made, they are not born.  They are made by hard effort, which is the price which all of us may pay to achieve any goal that is worthwhile.”  – Vince Lombardi Jevon Carter was not an average child.  He never went on family vacations because he wanted to stay home to concentrate on baseball and basketball.  He was 10 years old when he said to his mother, Cynthia Johnson, “My team needs me.”  Instead of going to the beach or to amusement parks, Jevon stayed home.  He practiced and he prepared and he was always there for his team.  When other boys his age were playing video games, he was in the driveway dribbling or at gym working on his game.  He took meticulous care of his toys and always kept his room and clothes neat and tidy.  In other words, he was not like other children.  His mother said it seemed that he was a “born leader.”  She could see real leadership qualities in him as early as 3 years old. Many studies about leadership have been conducted with the question “can someone be a born leader?” at the forefront and the results are very interesting.  While someone can be predisposed to be a leader from birth, like some are predisposed to talents in music, art or athletics, it’s difficult to say whether someone can be a born leader or not.  Make no mistake about it, Jevon was born with something quite special.  He was clearly inclined at an early age with the gifts and characteristics of a leader.  He spoke up for his older cousins (who he spent most of his childhood with), he was responsible and independent and understood the value of hard work.  His mature nature at such an early age suggests that it was inherent to him since birth, that he was born with that special quality that made him destined to be great at whatever he chose to do.  His mother explained to him that she would support him regardless of what he chose to do with his life; “whether he decided to be a doctor or a drummer”, she would “make sure he had every opportunity to be the best.” Failure to do whatever he wanted was simply not an option.  Yes, he was put in a position to use his God-given abilities to be great, but he had to put in a lot of time and effort. Trending: The Neal Brown Honeymoon is Over   He worked hard his whole life.  In my interview with him, I asked him where he thought his incredible work ethic came from.  He replied, “My background, my father, my family.  I’ve been struggling and fighting my whole life to get everything that I have.  I always had an inner drive and desire to be the best I could be.  And so I motivate myself.  I push myself.”  As a child, basketball was not his most natural sport.  He was naturally gifted as a baseball player, but he loved basketball.  (Jevon recently told his mother “What was I thinking choosing basketball over baseball?” after learning of Bryce Harper’s $330 million dollar contract). Perhaps it was the fact that basketball didn’t come as easily as baseball that made him love it even more.  Maybe working hard for something was the only way to truly satisfy him.  Basketball became his passion and he lived it and he dreamed about it (and talked about it in his sleep, according to his mother).  Although he didn’t tell anyone that he wanted to play in the NBA until his Junior year in college, he didn’t have to.  People close to him knew.   All of his efforts were focused on becoming the very best basketball player that he could be and he was going to be one of the best at whatever he chose to do with his life. He split time between his mother’s and father’s homes.  His mom was an academic scholar (she attended the University of Tennessee in Chattanooga and was on the Dean’s list with an academic scholarship) and focused on Jevon’s academics.  She didn’t pressure him about getting all As while in school, but she did demand that he always did his best.  “The As and academic accolades were just products of his competitive and perfectionist nature.  He did not want to get anything less than an A.”  She provided the love and unrelenting support that Jevon needed growing up and continues to do the same to this day. His father, Leroy, a former baseball and basketball player himself, handled all of his son’s sporting endeavors.  He was an absolute drill sergeant with Jevon. He pushed him every day in athletics.  He showed Jevon at an early age the discipline it takes to be an elite athlete.  Leroy Carter worked with and helped condition several future NBA players when they were young from the Proviso, Illinois area (Cory Maggette, Michael Finley, Shannon Brown, Dee Brown, just to name a few) and played with Reggie Jordan and Doc Rivers in high school.  Leroy was an outstanding player, but didn’t have a great attitude and lacked the family support needed to pursue an NBA career as a young man.  He didn’t want to see the same thing happen with his son.  In Jevon Carter’s letter on the “The Players’ Tribune”, he wrote, “My father made me care about every little detail of my game and he also taught me why each detail was important. My drive, work ethic and basketball IQ all come from him.  He asked a lot of me, but he and I both knew it would take a lot to succeed at the next level.” He had to work hard to develop and refine his craft.  He did it as a child, as a young man and now as an adult at the pinnacle of his chosen profession.  His success is a culmination of his God-given qualities, his incredible hard work and outstanding parenting by his mother and father.  At an early age, I’m sure he would never have imagined that he would have the support of an entire state....

A True Mountaineer

Since joining the West Virginia Mountaineers, Jordan McCabe has embraced the Mountain State, its people and the spirit of being a Mountaineer like no other player in the past, present or future.  Although McCabe is from Wisconsin originally, he is a true Mountaineer at heart. West Virginia is a small state and has a lot going against it.  It doesn’t have the advantageous geographical location or the weather or several other factors that make a wealthy state prosperous.  The people of the state are tough, hard-working and it’s their spirit that makes West Virginia the best state in the country. Jordan McCabe is undersized and not an exceptionally athletic young man.  Although an extraordinarily skilled ball-handler, passer and shooter, his athletic ability is not on par with other Division I college basketball players.  What he lacks in athletic ability, he makes up with toughness, working hard and pushing himself to be the very best leader and point guard that he can be. Jordan McCabe is West Virginia and West Virginia is Jordan McCabe.  When Bob Huggins talks about the basketball team representing the great state of West Virginia and its people, there is simply no better representative for the university and our state than Jordan McCabe. McCabe does it the way that Huggins and West Virginians throughout the state can appreciate; he works harder than anyone else.  Every single morning of the week, McCabe is up before the sun rises and is at the West Virginia Coliseum or basketball practice facility working on his game, putting in the time to improve while the rest of the world sleeps.  This grind is what separates McCabe from everyone else.  Like West Virginia, his work ethic makes up for the disadvantages that he was born with. There are no off days for Jordan McCabe and West Virginia fans can rest assured that he has worked harder this offseason than anyone in the Big 12 to make sure that the Mountaineers are back on top of the conference where they belong this year.  

Sweet 16 or Bust for West Virginia Basketball

Bob Huggins has been busy since the end of last year’s dismal 15-21 season. In addition to Oscar Tshiebwe and Miles McBride, Huggins added his top two shooting guard targets with the additions of JUCO studs Sean McNeil and Tajzmel “Taz” Sherman. These four key players added to an already exciting roster that includes Derek Culver, one of the top remaining players in the Big 12, Jordan McCabe, WVU’s undisputed floor general and leader, Emmitt Matthews, Jr., who Huggins refers to as “the most improved player on the team”, Jermaine Haley, who was spectacular in the final 10 games of last season, as well as key reserves Chase Harler, Brandon Knapper, Logan Routt and perhaps Arkansas transfer Gabe Osabuohien. Although this team has modest expectations from “experts” – picked to finish 5th in the conference by Big 12 coaches – the Mountaineers have huge expectations for themselves behind closed doors. This is a Bob Huggins’ team capable of incredible success this season.  Their lack of perimeter scoring has been addressed, their depth deficiency has been addressed and Huggins finally has a cohesive group of players that are prototypical Huggins’ guys.  The West Virginia roster is loaded with tough, defensive-minded, interior rebounders who put the team before themselves. Trending: Heads or Tails? Geno Smith at the Center of Monday Night Football Controversy Bob Huggins promised he would fix the mess that was last year’s team and he has certainly accomplished that.  This is a brand new team, a brand new year, and anything less than a Sweet 16 appearance will be a major disappointed for the team and the people of West Virginia. Huggins likely doesn’t have many years left on the sidelines of the Coliseum and this team gives him as good of a chance to win the National Championship as any team he’s ever coached.  Huggins, who has won 860 games in his long and illustrious career, has led his teams to nine Sweet 16 appearances, four Elite 8 trips and two Final Fours. The 2019-2020 version of West Virginia basketball has the leadership, the talent, the coaching and the cohesiveness to to make it to the Sweet 16 and even advance to the Elite Eight, Final Four or even a National Championship.  Tonight’s game against Akron is the start of something truly special for Bob Huggins and the Mountaineers. https://twitter.com/WVUhoops/status/1192875286544736256  

Come on Home, Jackie Matthews!

The West Virginia Mountaineers have landed Jackie Matthews, a defensive back out of Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College.  Matthews visited Morgantown this past weekend and his cousin, T.J. Simmons, was his host around the university and city. Jordan Lesley, West Virginia's Defensive Line Coach and one of Matthews' lead recruiters, unofficially announced the commitment with a "Let's Go" earlier on Twitter: https://twitter.com/CoachLesley_WVU/status/1198672988591267841?s=20 Outside Linebackers Coach Al Pogue added, "When you lose a very close game to a top 25 ranked team but you still pick up a "BIG TIME" commitment from a baller.  Let's GO!" https://twitter.com/coachalpogue/status/1198699315918786562?s=20 Matthews is 3 star player and the 15th rated junior college cornerback in the nation.  He held offers from Arkansas State, Charlotte, Marshall, Old Dominion, South Alabama, Southern Miss, Troy, UAB and Western Kentucky, but it ultimately came down to West Virginia and UCF, who he had planned to visit next month. West Virginia gives him an opportunity to play major Power 5 college football and compete for playing time or perhaps a starting role immediately in the Mountaineers' decimated secondary.

Mountaineers face unbeaten Northern Iowa in Mexico

West Virginia faces Northern Iowa Tuesday night at 8:30 in the second game of the night in the Riviera Division of the Cancun Challenge in Cancun, Mexico. The opening game of the night features Wichita State against South Carolina (6 p.m.). Both games will be televised on CBS Sports Network. The Mountaineers (4-0) and Panthers (6-0) each are looking to stay unbeaten. For WVU, the key will be keeping freshman phenom Oscar Tshiebwe out of foul trouble and on the floor. In the two games in which avoided foul problems, Tshiebwe was the Mountaineers best player. He averaged a double-double in wins over Pitt (20 points, 17 rebounds) and Boston University (21 points, 10 rebounds). in WVU’s other two victories, foul trouble and coach Bob Huggins displeasure limited Tshiebwe. The freshman averaged 4.5 points and six rebounds in West Virginia’s other two games (Akron and Northern Colorado). Despite his inconsistency, Tshiebwe leads the Mountaineers in rebounding at 9.8 boards a game. He is too talented to lag under foul issues. Jermaine Haley is the Mountaineers leading scorer early on at 12.8 points per contest. Huggins has spread the minutes widely, taking advantage of WVU’s superior depth against over-matched early opponents. Like WVU, Northern Iowa is looking to bounce back from a disappointing 2018-19 campaign.. The Panthers were 14-16 last year but already have tallied six wins in November. WVU and UNI have Northern Colorado as a common foe this season. The Mountaineers topped UNC, 69-61, in Morgantown while the Panthers edged Northern Colorado, 77-72, at home in Cedar Falls, Iowa. UNI has four players averaging double-figure scoring, led by junior guard Trae Berhow (14.8 ppg). Junior Austin Phyfe (6-foot-9, 235 pounds) leads the Panthers on the board, tallying 7.2 rebounds a game. Look for West Virginia to try to exploit the Panthers inferior depth. UNI has five players who average at least 29 minutes a game. No Mountaineer averages that many minutes. West Virginia is a six point favorite. The winner of Tuesday night matchup faces the Wichita State-South Carolina winner on Wednesday nigh at 8:30. The losers meet Wednesday at 6 p.m. Those games also will be televised on CBS Sports Network.

The Problem with West Virginia’s Twin Towers (and a Solution)

The West Virginia Mountaineers will be able to create matchup problems galore for opposing teams if Sophomore Derek Culver and Freshman Oscar Tshiebwe adjust to playing with each other this season. However, the elephant in the room right now is that although both Culver and Tshiebwe are ultra-talented players, they may just not be able to play together at the same time.  Bob Huggins might want to consider the idea of rotating the two players and not playing them together. Senior Logan Routt and Arkansas transfer Gabe Osabuohien are very capable interior players and Huggins has the luxury of not playing Culver and Tshiebwe at the same time. A lineup that might be more effective would be Routt starting at Center next to Tshiebwe at Power Forward.  Routt, a legit 6'11/7'0 Senior, has been an effective rebounder and defender, and would be a far more ideal player to pair next to Tshiebwe. Culver would then serve as the 6th man, replacing Tshiebwe in the lineup and taking over the bulk of the interior scoring duties.  Osabuohien is a bouncy, rebounding-first power forward who would slide in perfectly next to Culver. The next game, Culver and Osabuohien would start and Tshiebwe and Routt would come off the bench to replace them.  This rotation makes far more sense and would allow Derek Culver to be Derek Culver. Culver, who is averaging 10.8 points and 5.5 points per game on 33% shooting from the field, has struggled to figure out his newfound role for the Mountaineers this season.  While he was the undisputed go-to player in the post last season for Bob Huggins, Culver has to share the role with Oscar Tshiebwe this season. When Culver was asked about playing with Tshiebwe following West Virginia's win against Boston University, he was open and honest about his struggles, saying, "Yeah, I'm still learning.  It's still kind of...I don't want to say 'strange', but it's different because I really had my down-low post game (last year) and that's really what Oscar is good at, that's what he does and I kind of have to play on the wing now and I have to figure out what I'm going to do now." Culver went on to say, "I'm not really scoring like I want to right now, but I think things will go pretty well towards the end of the year.  Middle of the season, end of the year, we should have it figured out." Culver added that he's not necessarily comfortable with where he's at on the wing right now, but that he can adapt to it.   While it's fantastic that Culver is willing to change how and where he's always played during his entire young career for the team, it's unnecessary and likely actually hurting the team. Derek Culver is not a wing player and he's never going to be.  Derek Culver is a banger, a classic post player with outstanding rebounding skills.  Remember, Culver is perhaps the most dominant interior player in the Big 12 not named Udoka Azubuike (Kansas) and he shouldn't have to change for anyone. Culver playing alongside Tshiebwe might eventually work, but ultimately it's not what's best for Culver's future playing basketball professionally and it's likely not what's best for the team right now.

Everything that is right – and wrong – with WVU on display in Cancun...

  If you're a half-full kind of fan, enjoy the grit and never-say-die attitude West Virginia showed in the Mountaineers 60-55 comeback victory against Northern Iowa in the semifinals of the Cancun Challenge Tuesday night. If you're a half-empty type, feel free to wring your hands at the display of offensive ineptness WVU took south of the border. Apparently, made baskets aren't included in the Hard Rock Casino Resort's all-inclusive package. The Mountaineers brought along all of their issues for their trip to Mexico. Northern Iowa led by as many as 15 points in the second half and led almost the entire game. The Panthers controlled the action and - quite frankly - embarrassed the Mountaineers for much of the contest. Fortunately for West Virginia, UNI couldn't match the Mountaineers roster depth. Northern Iowa's best front-line player, Austin Pfyfe, tallied just 16 minutes and eventually fouled out. Two others Panthers starters - Spencer Haldeman and Isaiah Brown - each played through foul issues and each finished with four personal fouls. The Mountaineers capitalized on those foul problems and the Panthers thin roster to - eventually - wear down their over-matched opponent. Freshman Miles McBride led WVU off the bench with a career-high 18 points in the rally. He also was strong on the defensive end in the second half. If this was the start of McBride becoming a greater contributor to the Mountaineers cause, WVU coach Bob Huggins is sure to take it. While the positive contributions of McBride and also Emmit Matthews Jr. and Sean McNeil were welcome, another game with minimal help from freshman phenom Oscar Tshiewbe and sophomore point guard  Jordan McCabe ranges from bothersome to frightening. Early in his career, Tshiewbe has been either fantastic or relatively absent. Tuesday night was the latter. Tshiewbe again had foul issues and appeared to, again, find himself in Huggins doghouse for the majority of a game. Tshiewbe finished with six points, two rebounds and four fouls in just 14 minutes of court time. When he's on, Tshiewbe is WVU's best player. His size, strength, quickness, soft hands and smooth footwork is an unmatched combination on the team. And they are all useless when he's spending the majority of the game on the bench. As little as Tshiewbe contributed to the victory, McCabe added even less. And unlike Tshiewbe, McCabe couldn't blame foul problems on his disappearance. Like he has every game this season, McCabe was in the starting lineup. And like most of season, that was the highlight of McCabe's night. The sophomore point guard finished with two points, no assists and no rebounds in just nine minutes of action. It's a disturbing development for a player of whom so much was expected this season. Huggins is obviously not happy - at all - with McCabe's play. As this continues, McCabe risks becoming an afterthought. While it's still early - very early - in the season, it's no longer a given McCabe will grow into stardom into Morgantown. At this rate, it's no longer a given McCabe will play his junior season at West Virginia. Unlike last season, this year Huggins is blessed with a team that can win despite the struggles of its top players. But even with that depth, the Mountaineers aren't going to the NCAA Tournament - let alone competing for a Big 12 title - with the continuing disappearing acts by McCabe and especially Tshiewbe. It's nice that WVU is getting contributions from so many. But the Mountaineers still need their stars to shine.

West Virginia Has Found Its New Leader

Down 15 points in the 2nd half against Northern Iowa in the Cancun Challenge, Bob Huggins and the West Virginia Mountaineers needed someone, anyone to step up and take over to have a chance of coming back to win.  Enter Miles McBride. McBride, the outstanding Freshman point guard, finished with 19 points and 5 assists, hitting key shots late in the second half to lead the Mountaineers back to victory.  On a team that desperately needs a leader, McBride increasingly looks like the floor chief that Huggins needs and the player that he can rely on to hit big shots at critical times in the game. Miles McBride is a winner.  Underrated as a three star recruit out of high school, McBride led Moeller High School to the Ohio Division I state championship with a 29-0 record.  McBride hasn't lost a game in a long, long time; 54 straight games, in fact, dating all the way back to his Junior season at Moeller. McBride doesn't play like a Freshman.  Rather, he provides a sense of calm to the relatively young West Virginia team and does not make a lot of mental mistakes, which is typical of a Freshman player. Not only is he a leader and winner, he's also becoming the player that Bob Huggins can rely on on both sides of the ball.  While his clutch shots will be what's remembered from him in this game, McBride's key block shot on a driving Northern Iowa player (AJ Green) and incredible defensive effort in the second half was just as meaningful. While he's a Freshman and other players on the team have seniority over him, this team desperately needs a true leader and Miles McBride appears to be just the right player to lead the Mountaineers this season. Following the Northern Iowa game, Bob Huggins said, "Deuce made some huge shots for us.  He's in the huddle saying, "Just give it to me.  I'm good, just give it to me." Huggins gave it to him and he answered the call.  Expect McBride to be relied on more during big situations this season and for him to be the unquestioned floor leader for the Mountaineers from now on.