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A Basketball Q&A With Smoking Musket

WVUIE97 stops by to answer some questions about the 8-5 West Virginia Mountaineers.

Dak Dillon-USA TODAY Sports

TCU starts conference play on Saturday afternoon against West Virginia, so to prepare us for the game, we brought in WVUIE97 from West Virginia's exceptional SB Nation blog Smoking Musket to answer some of our questions.

In WVU's five losses, they've lost by an average of 6.4 points (to some pretty good teams too, like Wisconsin, Gonzaga and Mizzou). Is this team better than their record reflects?

We're not exactly sure. WVU has been dump-trucking the teams they should and been losing close games to good teams. What we haven't seen as yet is if the guys can get over the hump and get some quality wins. The team has definitely improved greatly, but youth and inexperience still abound.

With zero seniors on the roster and ten freshmen and sophomores, what are the expectations for the team in conference this season?

I'm not really sure if there are any real expectations. After last season's disaster and a roster purge, expectations kind of went out the window. I think we may sneak up on a couple of the better teams and maybe even pull an upset or two, but on a cold shooting night, we're just as apt to get upset ourselves. The short answer is that I think most folks would be happy with a 6th place finish considering how deep the conference is this year and how young we are.

Who should TCU fans watch out for on Saturday?

Juwan Staten has been the player we thought we were getting last season. His attitude and the way he's played is a full 180 from last season. He really is the floor leader out there for us, setting the tone for the rest of the team. As far as scoring, Eron Harris has been the most reliable scorer (and I believe still in the Big 12 top 5?). He's developed into a dangerous shooter after showing glimpses of it last season. Of the "role players" you may want to watch for freshman Nathan Adrian has also shown glimpses of what he's capable of (he was honored as the Big 12 Newcomer of the Week this week)

Offensively, it looks like the Mountaineers really like to shoot the 3. While they're making shots at a 40% clip, can that love of the 3-ball get them into trouble at times?

Absolutely, too many times on misses, the rebounds have gone the wrong way, leading to run-outs and easy transition buckets for the other teams. This was especially true in the losses to Purdue and Gonzaga. It looked to be the same against Marshall, but we pulled out a run at the end to prevent the upset.

Lastly, what's your prediction for Saturday's contest?

Prediction? Pain. Sorry, old habits die hard. They run that on the football scoreboard before every game.

But to answer your question...Admittedly not knowing much about TCU at this point, I'll base this on a few "ifs" regarding WVU. If WVU can connect on their regular average on the 3-balls, limit TCU's inside presence and not give up too many easy layups, and win the rebounding battle, I like our chances. Staying out of foul trouble wouldn't hurt either. If we start missing the threes and let TCU get the rebound and get too many of those run-outs like I mentioned before, it could be a long day for WVU. We've only had two true road games. It should be interesting to see how that may affect them as well.

I hope that helps you guys get a better idea of the Mountaineers at this point. Thanks for having me!