Once again, I start this off by giving infinite thanks to Brandon Priddy, who absolutely killed it once again during football season. Thanks again for giving me the keys to this Ferrari.
Let's get this thing started.
Virginia Tech -- 12/30
Obviously, there's no other way to start a recap of this game other than a shout out to the #BuzzWilliamsHateWeek campaign.
Buzz does not like WVU. WVU does not like Buzz. Virginia Tech and WVU basketball always seemed to be a somewhat manufactured rivalry that was only somewhat filling the void left by the Battle for the Black Diamond Trophy, but adding Buzz to the equation really amps up the hatred between these two programs.
Hokies continue to turn the ball over whether they push the tempo or slow it down, 20-11 WVU #Hokies— Gobbler Country (@gobblercountry) December 30, 2014
WVU gets a lot of attention for being a team that will force you into mistakes when you're trying to an up tempo game. What really hasn't got as much attention (though, I feel as though it soon will) is the ability the Mountaineers have to force you into just as many mistakes in the half court game by viciously setting up traps. It's such a fascinating and fun defense to watch, especially after what we've had in the last few seasons.
A couple of weak links in the #WVU press. All it takes is one and that defense is useless.— Chris Anderson (@CMAnderson247) December 30, 2014
What I'm going to say here is going to come across as kind of bitter, probably. Chris is right on here: a couple of weak links in a pressure-based defense makes it impossible to run, and teams will score at will against you. Just because you have athletes doesn't mean you can run pressure for 40 minutes.
So, I've come to this conclusion: WVU is successful this season because of-not despite-the transfers of Eron Harris and Terry Henderson. They were both prolific scorers and great offensive players, but they would be liabilities in the #PressVirginia world that we're living in. We're not where we're at without this ridiculous pressure, and we're not running this press with Eron and Terry.
ESPNU described WVU's play as "tough defense, guys running the floor hard, sharing the ball, unselfish." Exact opposite of recent WVU teams.— Patrick Southern (@patricksouthern) December 30, 2014
/reads previous paragraphs
24 isn't enough. More.— David Smith (@SmithFire13) December 30, 2014
#WVU up 34 with 4:30 left in game. Starters still in. Press still on. Bob Huggins swore he didn't remember Buzz's dance. (I think he lied)— Chris Anderson (@CMAnderson247) December 30, 2014
This was a three point game at halftime. It got bloody as hell, and it's just what Bob Huggins wanted.
We had one last shot to really send a message in out-of-conference play and gain some more confidence going in to what will be the extremely arduous Big 12 conference schedule. WVU started out slow, but eventually forced Virginia Tech to hit the #FrustrationEventHorizon and ran away with it in front of a great, sell out crowd in Morgantown.
Elijah Macon just danced on the logo during Country Roads, as an ode to Virginia Tech coach Buzz Williams, after #WVU beats the Hokies 82-51— Michael Carvelli (@Carvelli3) December 30, 2014
Happy #BuzzWilliamsHateDay, you guys.
TCU -- 1/3
The 'Eers began conference play with a road trip against an equally surprising team, the 13-0 TCU Horned Frogs, and the day didn't exactly start out with good news.
Gary Browne and the other guards are gonna have to step up big on the road today. #WVU— Gold And Blue Zone (@GoldAndBlueZone) January 3, 2015
This will be a theme, probably.
WVU’s halfcourt offense hasn’t been the best this season. Taking away Staten doesn’t help at all. Have to generate offense from pressure.— Patrick Southern (@patricksouthern) January 3, 2015
Two words - empty possessions. Mountaineers have to limit these mistakes early or it could be a long afternoon #WVU— Marc Basham (@marc_b) January 3, 2015
It was not an ideal start offensively for the Mountaineers. Without Staten to run the offense, it was an uphill battle early on, and if there's any negatives to point out from the fast start to this season, it's been the struggles in the half court offense.
Offensive struggles are a theme with WVU, but this season we've been able to mitigate it with all of the points we've been able to create off turnovers. That doesn't stop the fear from creeping in when we're unable to score in the half court and set up the pressure. It's definitely something that's going to need to be monitored as the season continues if the Mountaineers want to set themselves up for a big run.
Gary Browne now has 3 fouls.— WVU IMG Sports (@WVUIMGSports) January 3, 2015
There's no way that Gary Browne is going to have any impact on this game.
For as bad as things have been at times in this first half, #WVU only trails 27-21 with 3:02 left.— Keenan Cummings (@rivalskeenan) January 3, 2015
And it was only a 2 point game at the half. Really impressive, honestly. WVU battled back from an awful start and kept it close at half time. That's going to have to be what the 'Eers do all year, to be honest. This is very much a second half team that's going to have to wear teams down late. Getting into big half time holes probably won't be something they'll be able to overcome very succesfully.
I've never seen a team press off misses even half as much as #WVU does. It's really impressive that it isn't a total train wreck.— WMITC (@THE_REAL_WMITC) January 3, 2015
If VCU is "Havoc," WVU is "Chaos." Half the time it doesn't even look like there's a plan, but it's working. Frustrating the hell out of opposing offenses and creating countless scoring oppurtunities. It's wonderfully entertaining, ridiculous chaos. That's our team.
Love having a senior like Gary Browne in the backcourt as an insurance policy ...— John Antonik (@JohnAntonik) January 3, 2015
At the under-12 timeout, Gary Brown had no points. He has 10 now with 6:55 to go and WVU leads by 10.— Mike Casazza (@mikecasazza) January 3, 2015
By-Godders, we have to talk about Gary Browne. What a damn evolution that kid has gone through. He's the last remaining piece of that seven person recruiting class that was supposed to be the future of West Virginia basketball. That...didn't pan out.
Gary's been a role player at best in his previous years in Morgantown--a smart player that never particularly stood out. But this season, he's been a revelation on this team full of revelations. He can run the show in the absence of Juwan Staten. Not just for a few minutes per game, but when Juwan can't go at all.
Having a legitimate back up point guard is going to be crucial if the Mountaineers want to compete for a Big 12 title, and Gary Browne has become just that. It was Gary's leadership that let us break out of our early funk and run away with our first Big 12 win of the season. We'll be talking more about him when I get to last night's Texas Tech game.
The Big 12 is going to be a brawler's den this year in basketball. Win your home games and you can go places. The road will be crazy.— OurDailyBears (@OurDailyBears) January 3, 2015
WVU got that first road win (and another last night that we'll get to next week). College basketball, at the end of the day, is a pretty simple equation in theory if not in practice. Win your home games and fight like hell to get as many as you can on the road.
It's early, but WVU has succeeded so far. Whether or not they can continue over the course of the season against the likes of Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, and the like remains to be seen, but unlike the last few seasons, we have a group of fighters in Morgantown. Winning this league is going to be a tough task but it's one that this team can pull off. Like Bob Huggins loves to say about his great teams: they have a chance to be special.
Again, thanks to Brandon for handing off the Retweet to me for Basketball season. Hopefully I'm a quarter as insightful as he is during Football. I was going to add in Tech to this, but it got a little unwieldy. So, next Tuesday, we'll be back at it with a recap of Texas Tech and Iowa State. Until then, keep tweeting and Let's Go Mountaineers!