Jonnie West hit five of his eight three-point attempts to account for all 15 of scoring markers as West Virginia downed UNC Pembroke in an exhibition contest. He accounted for nearly half of West Virginia's three-point attack (11-31 overall) as the Mountaineers opened their season with something of a lackluster win.
West's play was anything but. He spotted up nicely out of WVU's motion offense, took shots that presented themselves and didn't force anything as he provided WVU's attack with the long range scoring it will need this year. He also added one assist in 18 minutes of action.
"Jonnie has shot it well in practice," head coach Bob Huggins noted. "He's probably not as in as good of shape as the others, and he needs to continue to work on his defense, but he knows that. He's a great guy, and he will help us this year."
Although he admitted to being excited and a bit nervous, sophomore Danny Jennings showed up well on the boards. He was the lone exception to Huggins characterization of the Mountaineers as a"terrible offensive rebounding team at this point." Jennings pulled down four offensive boards and nine overall in 17 minutes. He also, despite a couple of awkward attempts, scored five point on 2-4 shooting.
"Danny's biggest problem is that he's too hard on himself sometimes, and he shuts down," Huggins said. "He wants to be a good player, and he knows when he does things wrong, but sometimes he gets frustrated. He'll keep working on it." At some point, we hope he will be a guy that rebounds and blocks shots,"
And, presumably, sticks a few of them back in the hoop.
Jennings, like the majority of West Virginia's team, struggled to adjust to the tightly officiated game. The two teams combined for 41 fouls.
Kevin Jones had the quietest double-double in the history of the Coliseum. WVU's leader scored 12 points and snared ten rebounds, splitting those on the offensive and defensive end while adding a pair of blocks to his total. It won't be a surprise to look at Jones' line at the end of games this year and see totals that exceed expectations -- that's simply the way Jones plays. He's smooth, efficient and does all the little things that can lead to wins.
Playing a public exhibition game rather than a closed-door, controlled scrimmage meant that West Virginia didn't get to go against all of the defensive and offensive looks it wanted. In those private affairs, coaches from both schools can stop action, run sets that the other would like to see and play defenses to work against.
That didn't happen here, as UNCP played man-to-man the entire way. West Virginia ran only its motion offense against it, didn't run an set plays, and didn't get to work on its zone offense at all.
Head coach Bob Huggins noted that the vagaries of television have meant the death of the closed-door scrimmage, as his team needs an exhibition game before the season, and another one in the holiday game drought, in order to prepare and stay sharp. NCAA rules allow just two closed scrimmages or exhibition games per year. Whether that affects WVU's early season play remains to be seen, but the Mountaineers certainly didn't get a great deal of live work against anything other than straight man-to-man in this contest.