WVUSports.com

WVU Finishes No. 11 in Final USA Today Poll

  • By John Antonik
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  • April 04, 2017 02:08 PM
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MORGANTOWN, W.Va. - For the third straight year, Bob Huggins’ West Virginia Mountaineers ended the season ranked in the USA Today/Coaches Poll at No. 11.
 
The last time West Virginia basketball concluded its season nationally ranked for three consecutive years, John Kennedy occupied the White House in 1963.
 
It is also the eighth instance West Virginia has finished the season in the coaches’ poll since 1993 when USA Today took over it over from UPI. Here are the other instances when WVU has finished the year ranked in the coaches’ poll: 14th in 2006, 18th in 2015, 3rd in 2010, 17th in 2008, 15th in 2006, 15th in 2005 and 18th in 1998.
 
Additionally, the Mountaineers have now occupied the USA Today Poll for 56 straight weeks spanning more than three years. 
 
Prior to 1993, when UPI handled the men’s basketball coaches’ poll, West Virginia finished the season ranked in 1989, 1982, 1963, 1962, 1961, 1960, 1959, 1958, 1957 and 1952.
 
With four starters and several key players returning from this year’s 28-9 team, including NABC national defensive player of the year Jevon Carter, all signs point to continued success in 2018.
 
As for Carter, who heads into his senior season as one of the more touted returning players West Virginia has had in recent years, his thoughts immediately turned to 2018 after Gonzaga knocked the Mountaineers out of the NCAA Tournament’s round of 16.
 
“I’ve got another crack at it, so I’m going to get in the gym and work,” he said.
 
Meanwhile, it’s always interesting to see what others are saying about West Virginia. Here is a listing of some of the “way too early” top 25 polls for 2018:
 
Eamonn Brennan/ESPN.com …
 
The Mountaineers waved goodbye to two beloved senior starters this spring: Tarik Phillip, a key contemporary of the Press Virginia movement; and Nathan Adrian, crafty Morgantown native par excellence. Beyond that, though? Everyone is back. Jevon Carter will take another leading offensive role, while forcing steals left and right, Daxter Miles Jr. will remain by his side. Forwards Esa Ahmad and Elijah Macon will keep posting, diving and crashing the offensive glass. And coach Bob Huggins will still be plying the turnovers-plus-offensive-boards combo that has led to so much success in recent seasons.
 
Yahoo! Sports …
 
9. WEST VIRGINIA
Key losses: G Tarik Phillip, F Nathan Adrian, G Teyvon Myers, F Brandon Watkins
Key returners: Jevon Carter, F Esa Ahmad, G Daxter Miles, F Elijah Macon, F Lamont West, F Sagaba Konate
Notable newcomersF Derek Culver, G Brandon Knapper, F D’Angelo Hunter
Outlook: Adrian’s departure leaves a sizable hole in the Mountaineer frontcourt, but Bob Huggins has the talent and depth to fill it. He also still has the reigning Big 12 defensive player of the year in Carter, one of Carter’s two backcourt running mates and the Big 12 sixth man of the year, Miles, and a bevy of frontcourt options. Ahmad and West should rise into larger roles. Provided a third guard steps up, West Virginia should be the main competition for Kansas in the Big 12.
 
USA Today …
 
13. West Virginia
Though Baylor, Iowa State and Oklahoma State figure to take a slide with their key departures, the Mountaineers will likely be Kansas’ top challenger in trying to end a 13-season Big 12 title streak. Coach Bob Huggins’ “Press Virginia” roster loses Nathan Adrian and Tarik Phillip, but brings back its top two scorers in Jevon Carter (13.5 ppg) and Esa Ahmad (11.3 ppg). Daxter Miles Jr. also returns for the Mountaineers, while freshmen Lamont West and Sagaba Konate should see more time.
> Recruiting class: D
 
Seth Davis/Sports Illustrated.com …
 
15. WEST VIRGINIA MOUNTAINEERS
The Mountaineers are only losing two senior starters. The team’s top scorers, Jevon Carter and Esa Ahmad, will be back.
The Sporting News …
17. West Virginia Mountaineers
Why they’re here: Are you going to bet against Bob Huggins’ team setting up residency in the Top 25 again next year? You shouldn’t. Jevon Carter and Daxter Miles are back, and Esa Ahmad should be, and there’s another crop of youngsters just waiting to step into the Huggins system and help keep West Virginia near the top of the Big 12. 
 
* Gary Parrish/CBS Sports.com …
 

22. West Virginia Mountaineers

Coach: Bob Huggins
2016-17 record: 28-9 
Notable players definitely gone: Nathan Adrian, Tarik Phillip, Teyvon Myers, Brandon Watkins
Notable players also expected to leave: None
Notable players expected to return: Jevon Carter, Esa Ahmad, Daxter Miles, Elijah Macon, Lamont West, Sagaba Konate
Notable newcomers: Derek Culver, Brandon Knapper, D’Angelo Hunter, Teddy Allen, Wesley Harris 
Why the Mountaineers are here: Bob Huggins has had a top-25 team every year since he committed to a pressing style of defense in advance of the 2014-15 season. So there’s no real reason to think he won’t have one again.
 
* CBS Sports.com college basketball expert Jon Rothstein has West Virginia No. 8 in his “way too early” top 25 college basketball poll


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