TCU and West Virginia will square off tonight in the first game of the year on ESPN2's Big Monday. The Frogs are coming off a tough loss on the road to Oklahoma State while WVU grabbed a double-overtime win against Kansas State in Manhattan. We caught up with Matt Kirchner of The Smoking Musket to learn all about the Mountaineers.
1. After being picked to finish 6th in the Big 12 Preseason Poll, West Virginia has jumped out to a 12-1 start to the year and has earned a spot in the top 25 for much of the season. How would you assess where the Mountaineers are right now?
I think we're pretty much where I, and most of the fan base, thought we would be.
The nonconference slate was okay, but everyone on it was very beatable. In our one major match up, in the Garden versus Virginia, we played a very strong first half but fell victim to the classic WVU move of LET'S SEE WHERE THIS GAME GOES IF WE DON'T PUT THE BALL IN THE BASKET FOR TWELVE MINUTES. That worked out just about as well as you'd expect.
I was very intrigued at how this team would do in a conference road environment (considering our only noncon true road game was in a Virginia Tech arena filled with WVU fans), and they fought through a ton of adversity to pick up a 2OT win in the Octagon of Doom. I think that we're all very pleased with this team thus far.
2. Bob Huggins' bread and butter the last several seasons has been a ridiculously tough defense that thrives off of the full court press and generating steals. In fact, WVU enters tonight's contest #1 in the nation in steals per game. What makes this defensive unit so difficult to beat?
They play so well together. Everyone on the court is acting almost like one giant organism, and it's amazing to watch. Everyone knows their assignment and what they have to do to execute it. To play this style of play successfully, being on the same page is important.
We dealt with a ton of transfers and a lot of people questioned where the program was heading, but the old adage of "you should probably just trust Bob Huggins" proved to be true again, as he was more or less purging the team of malcontents that were hurting us defensively.
3. Devin Williams has been a one-man wrecking crew so far to begin the season, leading the Mountaineers in both scoring and rebounding. How has he been able to put up such strong numbers so far, and who else should TCU fans keep their eye on tonight?
Dev is a tank in the paint. His biggest strength is the ability to get offensive rebounds and create on those second chance attempts. He needs to get a bit better at passing out of double teams, but I believe that will come.
Besides Dev, I've been really impressed with three guys who were role players last year. Tarik Phillip, Jay'Sean Paige, and Elijah Macon have all been phenomenal sparks this year. Phillip and Paige can both score and defend and Macon, at times, has looked just as good if not better than Devin Williams.
4. TCU has never defeated West Virginia, falling to the Mountaineers in all six previous attempts. What would the Frogs need to do tonight to pick up a huge win on Big Monday?
Score in transition. The biggest weakness of #PressVirginia is teams that can break the press quickly and get their bigs easy dunks and layups.
Basically, whatever the hell Texas does to us every time.
5. Finally, how do you see things going down tonight? Do the Mountaineers pick up their second straight road Big 12 win? Or can the Frogs somehow pull off the upset?
I think TCU gives a great effort, but WVU gets away with it in the last few minutes. Something along the lines of 82-70 or so.
I'd like to extend a big thanks to Matt Kirchner, Mark Stickel, and the team over at The Smoking Musket. Be sure to head over to their site for a different perspective on tonight's action.
And as always, we'll have a full slate of coverage for you right here on Frogs O' War. Stay tuned as we get set for tonight's game.