Tough Defense
Tony Caridi
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Posted by Tony Caridi on Wednesday, February 11, 2009
(10:49 am)
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Bob Huggins has a theory and the facts to back it up.

The coach believes that opposing teams don’t play as well the game after they play West Virginia. Huggins contends that his team’s defensive style takes a physical toll on an opponent the next time they play.

A quick check of games through Tuesday backs up Huggins’ statement. The combined record of Big East teams West Virginia has faced this season is 65-45. That’s a winning percentage of 59 percent. However, in the 10 games that have been played following a date with the Mountaineers opposing teams are just 5-5, dropping that winning percentage to 50 percent.

It will be interesting to watch that trend over the next few seasons as the Mountaineers literally morph into a more physical team. Granted, the current team plays hard and has some long players, but the beefy bodies still haven’t fully developed - or are still on the way.

Remember how Joe Alexander thickened up after his freshman season? Expect the same from Devin Ebanks and Kevin Jones. Incoming freshmen Danny Jennings and Deniz Kilicli have SUV frames. Jennings could easily play at 250 pounds, while Kilicli already weighs 250.

***

The Mountaineers will get a chance for their signature Big East win Friday night when Villanova comes to town. The ‘Cats will arrive hotter than a Google search on Chris Brown and Rihanna.

Coach Jay Wright’s squad has won six straight while scoring more than 90 points in each of their last three games. Both of their road conference losses have been respectable - they dropped a 79-72 decision at Marquette and fell at then third-rated Connecticut 89-83.

An analysis of Villanova’s stats shows no true weakness. It’s a team with the much-sought-after-but-rarely-found inside-outside presence. Senior center/forward Dante Cunningham is the team’s leading scorer (17 ppg.) while point guard Scottie Reynolds is right behind at (15 ppg.) with a team leading 51 3-pointers. Corey Fisher and Corey Stokes also average double figures.

‘Nova is very good because it’s very experienced. The starting lineup consists of three seniors and two juniors. This is a team that has played on the biggest stages of the college game and it won’t be overcome by a sold-out Coliseum crowd. Villanova is a team that you have to line up and beat straight up, finesse won’t factor into the equation.

You beat the real good teams by doing all of the little things really well. You beat them by out-shooting them, by out-rebounding them, by out-hustling them and by having your fans elevate you to a peak level of performance. Also, it wouldn’t be a bad idea if the Mountaineers had the lead at halftime. Nova is 15-0 this season when leading at halftime but just 5-4 when trailing at the break. WVU is 14-2 when leading at halftime and a perfect 13-0 when out-shooting the opposition.

We’ll see you at the Coliseum Friday night!

Tony Caridi begins his 13th full season as radio play-by-play announcer for Mountaineer football and basketball on MSN and his 24th overall with the network. Tony has become a household name throughout the state for his work on MSN. Prior to 1997, Caridi served as play-by-play man for the network's football replay telecasts. Along with his play-by-play duties, Caridi continues to serve as a co-host and feature contributor for the popular television shows Mountaineer Magazine and Mountaineer Jammin'.

Follow Tony on Twitter: http://twitter.com/tonycaridi


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