Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

Sports column

November 6, 2013

New season, new hope

BLUEFIELD — One season winds down and another one begins.  That’s the way it works in college sports, and it’s happening again, with college football down to its final month of the regular season, which means it’s time to tip off the basketball season.

 Here’s hoping for a more productive 2013-14 season for the four regional and three local college basketball programs.

 Only two men’s team (Virginia and Concord) had a winning seasons last year, with the Cavaliers (23-12) reaching the second round of the NIT. Virginia Tech (13-19) did have the nation’s leading scorer in Erick Greene (25.0), while the Mountaineers (13-19) earned plenty of frequent miles, 31,128 of them, in their first year in the Big 12.  Marshall (13-19) may have been the biggest disappointment at 13-19.

 Bluefield (10-17) struggled in the move to the Mid-South, while the Bluefield State (4-23) lost 16 straight to start the campaign. Concord (16-11) won five of its final seven games.

 It doesn’t get any easier for the Hokies or Cavaliers in the ACC with the addition of Syracuse, Pittsburgh and Notre Dame this year, and Louisville coming in next season. The Cavaliers are definitely a threat to reach the NCAAs this year. West Virginia (Kansas-dominated Big 12) and Marshall (the severely watered down C-USA) figure to finish in the bottom of the pack of their leagues.

 Concord is picked to finish in the middle of the newly-established Mountain East Conference. Bluefield is looking for better results in the Mid-South, while the Big Blues are still searching for a league to call home.

This year will be played under independent status.

 •Virginia Tech (2012-13 record; 13-19, 4-14, 12th place). Season opener: Saturday, vs. USC-Upstate. Head coach: James Johnson (2nd year, 13-19). Big losses: Erick Greene (25.0, nation’s leading scorer), Donte Clark (key recruit, denied admission). Key returnees: Jarell Eddie (12.3 ppg), Cadarian Raines (6.6 ppg, 6.4 reb). Top newcomers: Adam Smith (transfer from UNC-Wilmington, 13.7 ppg in 2012). Note: The Hokies were 258th in the nation in defensive efficiency last season.

 •West Virginia (13-19, 6-12). Season opener: Friday, vs. Mount St. Mary’s. Head coach: Bob Huggins (WVU 133-75, 7th year; career 723-286, 32nd year). Big Losses: Deniz Kilicli (8.9 ppg, 4.3 reb), Aaric Murray (8.8 ppg, 5.9 reb), Jabarie Hinds (7.4 ppg). Key returnees: Eron Harris (9.8 ppg), Juwan Staten 7.6 ppg, 3.3 ast), Terry Henderson (8.0 ppg). Top newcomers: Devin Williams , Elijah Macon. Note: West Virginia travels to Virginia Tech as part of ESPN’s Tip-Off Marathon on Nov. 12. Tip-off is slated for 1 p.m.

 •Marshall (13-19, 6-10): Season opener: Friday, vs. South Carolina State. Head coach: Tom Herrion (56-45, 4th year; career 136-83, 8th year). Big losses: DeAndre Kane (15.1 ppg, 7.0 ast  transferred to Iowa State), Dennis Tinnon (10.5 ppg, 9.1 reb). Key returnees: Elijah Pittman (16.1 ppg, 4-2 reb), D.D. Scarver (11.9 ppg). Top newcomers: Kareem Canty, Ryan Taylor. Note: Despite 67 wins in three seasons prior to last year, the Herd still hasn’t been to the NCAA tournament since 1987.

 •Virginia (23-12, 11-7, 2nd round NIT). Season opener: Friday, vs. James Madison. Head coach: Tony Bennett (76-53, 5th year, career 69-33, 8th year). Big Losses: Jontel Evans (4.2 ppg, 4.8 ast), Paul Jesperson (4.7 ppg, 2.2 reb). Key returnees: Joe Harris (16.3 ppg, 4 ppg), Akil Mitchell (13.1 ppg, 8.9 reb). Top newcomers: Anthony Gill (transfer from South Carolina, 7.6 4.7 in 2012). Note: Virginia should be NCAA bound, but the ACC has gotten tougher with three new teams.  

 •Bluefield (10-17, 5-15): Season opener: Nov. 12, at Bluefield State. Head Coach Richard Morgan (57-67, 5th year), Big losses: Byron Carpenter (22.7 ppg, ranked among top five in Mid-South and NAIA). Key returnees: Kearsten Marion (15.9 ppg, 3.5 ast; Andrew Wilson (17.0 ppg, 10 games, missed second semester; Josh Nesbit (8.9 ppg, 6.3 reb in 16 games). Top newcomers: Transfer Alex Lubsey (Eastern Illinois), Kyle Grigsby (Milligan), prep recruit Asher Dillow (Bland County). Note: Bluefield started 4-0 and finished 2-0 last year, going 4-17 the remainder of the season.  

 •Concord (16-11, 12-10): Season opener, Friday, at Fayetteville State. Head Coach: Kent McBride (33-23, 3rd year). Big losses: Damien Tunstalle (16.3 ppg, 5.7 reb), Jordan Davis (9.8 ppg, 6.0 reb). Key returnees: Mike Boyd (11.6 ppg, 4.5 ast), Cam Shannon (5.7 ppg), Alex McGlothin (5.3 ppg, 3.3 reb). Top newcomers: A.J. Williams, Terry Hopewell. Note: Concord has seven Ohio products on its team, three from West Virginia.

 •Bluefield State (4-23, 4-10): Season opener, Sunday, at Tiffin (Ohio). Head coach: Jamaal Jackson (5-49, 3rd year). Big losses: Roy Cooper (14.4 ppg, 4.5 reb), Vincent Rogers (12.3 ppg, 4.8 reb). Key returnees: Treon Claiborne (10.0 ppg, 6.8 reb), Avery Holliday (7.3 ppg, 3.2 reb), Joseph Dawkins (8.0 ppg). Top newcomers: Adam Copley, Stacco Dickerson. Note: Bluefield State plays under Independent status this season as the search for a conference home continues.

As for the women, West Virginia (17-14) advanced to the NCAA, losing in the opening round to Delaware, while Virginia (16-14) and Bluefield (16-15) also finished above .500. Virginia Tech (10-21) and Marshall (9-21) finished last in their respective conference standings.

Concord (6-16) was hampered all season by injuries, while Bluefield State (13-13) had its best record since many of its players have been alive.

 •Virginia Tech(10-20, 4-14): Season opener: Saturday, vs. Howard. Head coach: Dennis Wolff (17-43, 3rd year, career 277-215, 17 years). Key returner: Monet Tellier (1,000 point scorer). Note: Wolff is a member of the Basketball Old Timers of America Hall of Fame.  

 •West Virginia (17-14, 9-9). Season opener: Saturday, vs. Ohio State. Head coach: Mike Carey (13th year, 244-141, career 532-243, 25 years). Key returner: Asya Bussie (6-4, All-Big 12 candidate) Note: West Virginia has made the NCAA tournament four straight seasons.

 •Marshall (9-21, 3-13): Season opener: Nov. 12, at Robert Morris. Head coach: Matt Daniel (9-21, 2nd year, career 72-50, 6th year). Top newcomer: Former Princeton standout McKenzie Akers is currently a freshman with the Thundering Herd. Note: Marshall will host Bluefield in an exhibition game on Friday at 11:30 a.m.

 •Virginia (16-14, 8-10): Season opener: Friday, at James Madison. Head coach: Joanne Boyle (41-25, 3rd year; career 270-129, 9th year) Key returner: Ataira Franklin. Note: Once an NCAA mainstay, the Cavaliers haven’t been there since 2010.

 •Bluefield (16-15, 8-12): Season continues: Friday, at Marshall (exh). Head coach: M.J. Baker. Big losses: Ashley White (16.5 ppg, 4.8 ast). Key returnees. Teqa McNeal (17.2 ppg, 4.8 reb), Janee Simmons (11.5 ppg, 8,7 reb), Monique Robson (10.1 ppg, 4.8 reb). Top newcomers. Asia Wheeler, Destiny Tolliver, Valerie Lebedeva. Note: The Lady Rams will play four exhibitions against Division I foes.

 •Concord (6-16, 7-22): Season opener: Nov 13., at Lincoln Memorial. Head coach: Kenny Osborne (190-180, 13th year, career 202-195, 15th year). Big losses: Amanda Smith (13.6 ppg, 4.0 reb). Key returnees: Andrea Bertrand (18.0 ppg, 6.8 reb, 4 games), Rachel Artrip (11.4 ppg, 4.6 reb), Stephanie Wagner (10.1 ppg, 5.6 ast). Top newcomers: Loni Webb (Grundy), 6-1 Hannah Murray. Note: The Lady Lions begin first season in Mountain East Conference.

 •Bluefield State (13-13, 11-11): Season opener: Saturday, at Fairmont State. Head coach: J.J. Oliver (23-59, 4th year). Big losses: Charlene Diggs (11.5 ppg), Dragana Tomic (8.2 ppg), Charity Harris (10.6 ppg, 4.3 ast, out with knee injury). Key returnees: Shae Mebane (11.8 ppg, 7.8 reb), Tasia Nolan (8.2 ppg, 5.4 reb). Top newcomers: Hope Smith, Tanasia Blake. Note: Bluefield State will play under independent status, playing games this year in seven states and Washington D.C.

The high school basketball season begins on Nov 11 for the boys and girls teams from Virginia, and girls clubs from West Virginia.

The West Virginia boys can begin practice on Nov. 18.

—Brian Woodson is the sports editor for the Daily Telegraph. He encourages feedback at bwoodson@bdtonline.com

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