Mountaineer fans got a brief glimpse of what Ukrainian freshman forward Volodymyr Gerun could do on the basketball court when West Virginia defeated Glenville State in an exhibition game last month. Now Gerun finally gets his chance to perform when it counts when West Virginia faces Virginia Tech on Saturday at the WVU Coliseum.
Gerun was required to sit out the first six games of the regular season because the NCAA determined that he played three games on a professional team in the Ukraine during the 2011 season.
During the time he had to sit out, Gerun was allowed to practice with the team but was unable to travel.
In the exhibition game, Gerun showed that he was capable of scoring around the basket and also possessed the ability to step out and shoot the ball, finishing the game with 12 points in just 12 minutes of action.
Last year, the 6-foot-10, 240-pounder led his team in scoring (18.2 ppg.), rebounding (11.1 rpg.) and blocks (2.1 bpg.) at the under-18 European Championships, including a 29-point, 14-rebound performance against the Italian National Team. He also had 23 points and 14 rebounds against Finland and 25 points and 10 rebounds against the Czech Republic.
Prior to that, he was named MVP of the Under-16 European Championships after averaging 17.3 points per game during the tournament.
“He can make shots and he’s not afraid to take them,” said West Virginia coach Bob Huggins. “He gives us a ‘stretch-four’, meaning he can stretch the defense. He’s more in that regard like K.J. (Kevin Jones) than what our other guys are.
“K.J. was a terrific rebounder and a much, much better defender than anybody gave him credit for, but really he stretched people. You had to guard him," Huggins said. "In the (Marshall) game last year he hit two huge 3s that kind of opened the game up for us, which is what we hope Voldy will be able to do for us.”
Just how much Gerun will be able to contribute right away remains to be seen. Because he hasn’t been involved in game planning and wasn’t here last year, he is currently way behind West Virginia’s other bigs.
“It’s hard situation to have to put a kid through because you can’t possibly pay as much attention to him,” Huggins explained. “We’ve played one home game and he’s not allowed to travel so he hasn’t been around the team. He hasn’t been able to see all of the film and see all of the scouting reports and to do all those things.”
What makes it especially difficult is the language barrier that Gerun has to overcome right now. Huggins admits he’s not entire sure what the freshman is digesting right now.
“There is a language barrier. Deniz (Kilicli) was here for a year so Deniz obviously understood English a whole lot better than what Voldy does,” Huggins said. “Honestly, our guys have been great. They try to help him, then you try and get some things done and you talk a little faster and I don’t know how much he comprehends sometimes.”
Huggins said he was dealing with a similar situation with Aaric Murray earlier this year, although obviously without the language barrier. Murray didn’t have an opportunity to work much with the team last year because of a broken hand and that inactivity slowed his progress at the season’s outset. Now, according to Huggins, Murray is just beginning to understand what is expected of him and where he fits on this year’s team. That process is just starting with Gerun.
“It’s maybe one thing if you played for a year and you miss six games. Until lately we’ve had five bigs for practice and obviously you are getting the three that played the first three games ready and then you try and get Dom (Rutledge) ready,” said Huggins. “(Gerun) doesn’t know what those other guys know and Aaric didn’t practice much (last year), but those other three guys have been around.
“Just from a knowledge standpoint it’s hard,” Huggins added. “He’s certainly the best shooter of the five and he’s the biggest. He’s a great kid and he’s going to be a really good player, I think, I just don’t know when.”
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. - West Virginia plays host to Virginia Tech Saturday in a battle of former Big East and Southern Conference combatants. Tipoff is set for 4 p.m. and the game will be televised nationally on ESPN2.
Game Information DATE: Saturday, Dec. 8, 2012 LOCATION: WVU Coliseum (14,000) in Morgantown, W.Va. TIPOFF: 4:00 p.m. SERIES: West Virginia leads 46-29 TV: ESPN2 (Jon Sciambi and Bob Knight) RADIO: MSN (40 affiliates) Tony Caridi, Jay Jacobs and Kyle Wiggs OFFICIALS: Announced on game day
Game Notes • Today’s game will be televised nationally by ESPN2. The MSN Radio broadcast can be heard on Sirius 117 and XM 190.
• Fans who bring a new, unwrapped toy will receive a coupon for free admission to an upcoming women’s game.
• West Virginia is 60-14 in the WVU Coliseum under Bob Huggins, including a 32-13 mark in league games at home.
• WVU is 469-134 (.778) all-time at the WVU Coliseum and 90-17 at the WVU Coliseum in the last eight seasons.
• Under Bob Huggins in the WVU Coliseum, WVU is averaging 75.9 ppg, while holding its opponents to 61.3 ppg.
• WVU’s average margin of victory at the WVU Coliseum under Bob Huggins is +14.6.
• West Virginia is 61-3 at home against non-conference teams in the last 10 years, including 42 of its last 43.
• The Mountaineers have won 48 of their last 55 games in the month of December.
• West Virginia is playing its first season in the Big 12 Conference in 2012-13. The Mountaineers were members of the Big East Conference for the previous 17 seasons.
• The Mountaineers have three transfers on the roster in 2012-13. Junior center Aaric Murray led La Salle in scoring (15.2), rebounding (7.7) and blocks (2.3) in 2010-11. Sophomore guard Juwan Staten led the Atlantic 10 in assists with 190 as a freshman at Dayton in 2010-11. Senior guard Matt Humphrey has one year left after transferring from Boston College where he was second on the team in scoring at 10.3 points per game.
• WVU has won 85 of its last 105 games against unranked teams, including 42 of its last 46 at the WVU Coliseum.
• West Virginia is 55-14 in non-conference regular season games under Bob Huggins, including a 28-1 mark at home.
• West Virginia is 86-20 against non-conference teams in regular season games in the last nine seasons.
• WVU has won 74 of its last 93 non-conference games and 79 of its last 99 non-league contests (includes postseason).
• Bob Huggins recorded win No. 700 against Missouri State on Dec. 22, 2011. Huggins became the 20th Division I head coach to win 700 career games. Huggins’ record now stands at 713-270 in his 31st season as a head coach. He recently passed Denny Crum for 20th place on the NCAA Division I all-time winningest coaches list. Next on the list is Don Haskins, who had 719 wins during his career. Only two active coaches have won more games (Mike Krzyzewski and Jim Boeheim).
• Sixty-three of Bob Huggins’ 123 victories have been away from the WVU Coliseum.
• West Virginia has made at least one 3-point field goal in 429 consecutive games. The last time WVU did not make a 3-point field goal was against Robert Morris on Nov. 27, 1999.
• WVU is predicted sixth in the Big 12 Conference poll. In eight of the last 10 seasons, the Mountaineers have finished higher or equal to their preseason prediction.
• WVU made its ninth straight postseason appearance last year: 2012 NCAA Second Round, 2011 NCAA Third Round, 2010 NCAA Final Four, 2009 NCAA First Round, 2008 NCAA Sweet 16, 2007 NIT champions, 2006 NCAA Sweet 16, 2005 NCAA Elite Eight and 2004 NIT Second Round.
• It was WVU’s fifth straight NCAA appearance and seventh in the last eight seasons. In the year the Mountaineers didn’t make the NCAA tournament (2007), they won the NIT.
• Bob Huggins has led WVU to the NCAA championship in each of his first five seasons. The last time WVU made five consecutive NCAA appearances was from 1955-60, when the Mountaineers went six consecutive years to the NCAA tourney.
• West Virginia has won 59 of its last 69 games when holding its opponents to 69 points or less.
• West Virginia is 36-0 under Bob Huggins when shooting 50 percent or better from the field.
• West Virginia is 100-19 under Bob Huggins when leading at halftime.
• West Virginia is 107-11 under Bob Huggins when leading by 10 or more points in a game.
• West Virginia is 100-5 under Bob Huggins when posting a higher shooting percentage than its opponent.
• West Virginia has won 68 of its last 79 games when scoring 70 or more points in a game.
• The Mountaineers are 91-14 under Bob Huggins when scoring 70 or more points in a game.
• West Virginia is 103-24 under Bob Huggins when outrebounding its opponent.
• This is the 104th season and 110th year overall for West Virginia basketball, which began in 1903. The Mountaineers own a 1,624-1,008 all-time record in intercollegiate basketball competition, ranking WVU 21st among all Division I schools.
• West Virginia has allowed its opponent to shoot 50 percent or better only 29 times under Bob Huggins (182 games).
• Bob Huggins has wins over 20 ranked teams since he has been the head coach at West Virginia, including eight over a Top-10 ranked team in the last five seasons.
• Twenty-four of the last 25 senior members of the men’s basketball team have graduated on time or early since 2004.
• WVU is 14-6 all-time on Dec. 8. The Mountaineers are 364-152 all-time in the month of December.