College Road Report: WVU at Cleveland State
A very close call for the Mountaineers.
by Rodger Bohn
West Virginia came into the Wolstein Center in Cleveland sporting a 7-0 record and No. 6 ranking nationally. Cleveland State was coming off of a run to the second round of the NCAA tournament last year (which included a stunning victory over Wake Forest), but lost their two focal points offensively. One would expect this to be a wash for West Virginia?
Think again. It took a Da’Sean Butler layup with 1.3 seconds left to give WVU an 80-78 win over the Horizon League school. Here are a couple of things that caught our eye during the game:
– West Virginia needs to give Truck Bryant some help handling the ball. The NYC playmaker is a nice ball handler, but he can only do so much out there. There were times that WVU had Da’Sean Butler playing shooting guard, offering 4 players on the floor that were standing 6-7 or above. Not coincidentally, Cleveland State’s diamond press forced 17 turnovers and changed the scope of the entire game in the second half. In order for the Mountaineers to make a run deep into the dance, they’re going to have to have someone else step up and handle the rock from time to time.
– Where in the world is Devin Ebanks? Ebanks has all of the talent of an NBA lottery pick, seems to be doing whatever he can to compromise that. First, he left the team during the season for personal reasons. Then, he comes back and looks like he doesn’t even want to be out on the floor. As one might expect, his production has suffered mightily. The NYC native is averaging less points, rebounds, and assists from his freshman season, while shooting 10 percent less from the field. He’s also hitting three pointers at a frosty 12.5 percent clip. The 6-9 forward has all of the tools of a star and can be a mismatch nightmare on the hardwood, but his production hasn’t reflected that through the first four games of his sophomore campaign.
– Norris Cole could easily lead the Horizon League in scoring. Cole is averaging a pedestrian 17.3 ppg, but is shooting 48 percent from the field, 37 percent from beyond the arc, and 82 percent percent from the line and only 12 shots per game. The former high school teammate of Daequan Cook can get to the rim, make you pay from beyond the arc, or drill a beautiful pull-up off of the bounce. In terms of scoring the rock, he’s a pretty complete guard for the low-major level. If he decides to get more aggressive and put it up a little more, we could definitely see him contending for the conference scoring crown. Pretty good for a guy that only had one DI offer, eh?
– Da’Sean Butler is the epitome of a senior, and should get drafted come June. Butler showed great leadership when his team’s lead was dwindling against Cleveland State, instructing his younger teammates to remain calm despite the Mountaineers’ poor play. On an individual front, he’s averaging 17 points, 6 rebounds, and 4 assists a game while shooting 50 percent from the field. Hugs’ allows him to play anywhere from shooting guard to power forward, so he has plenty of chances to show off his versatility in front of NBA scouts. The Jersey kid is definitely a guy that we can potentially see hearing his name called in round 2 and making is way into an NBA rotation sooner rather than later.
– Cleveland State is getting it done recruiting nationally, but needs to step it up locally. On last year’s run to the second round of the dance, CSU was led by a bevy of players from outside of the state of Ohio. In the class of 2009, there were over 20 players who went to go and play at the low to mid-major DI level from within a 50 mile radius of the downtown Cleveland campus. Cleveland State got one (Anthony Wells). That’s unacceptable if you’re hoping to get top tier kids to stay at home and bring CSU back to its days in the 80’s when they sent David Robinson (and his Navy team) home early in March Madness.
Rodger was the former Director of Prep Scouting for DraftExpress.