Can its transfers give WVU successful Big 12 season?

“Transition” is a much-used term found around basketball.

With the 2012-13 West Virginia basketball team, “transition” and “transfer” will be terms placed front and center.

The Mountaineers of sixth-year coach Bob Huggins will be transitioning to the Big 12 Conference, and they will be presenting a lineup featuring transfers when they see the likes of Kansas, Texas, Baylor and Kansas State.

This will be the first season away from the stacked-at-the-top teams of the Big East. This will be the first season with projected starters coming in from LaSalle (6-foot-10 center Aaric Murray) and Dayton (6-foot-1 point guard Juwan Staten). Not only are Murray and Staten going to make immediate waves, but also Volodymyr Gerun could be a starter at some time as well.

Gerun comes from Ukraine where he was an able scorer on that country’s national teams that played all over Europe. The 18-year-old is 6-foot-10, 240 and could be another inside player to help Murray and senior Deniz Kilicli.

Another possible starter is 6-foot-5 guard/forward Matt Humphrey, a transfer with an undergraduate degree from Boston College who has one year of eligibility remaining.

Transfers leaving and shedding their old gold and blue are center Pat Forsythe (going to Akron), forward Tommie McCune (going to Oakland), and little-used guard Paul Herbert Williamson (going to Fairmont). None of those three played much or did much at WVU.

Kevin Jones and Darryl “Truck” Bryant were the seniors on last year’s team that had a 19-14 overall record and was drubbed by Gonzaga in its first game in the NCAA tournament.

Two outside-shooting freshmen join the Mountaineers. Both are lean and tend much more to offense than anything else. Terry Henderson is 6-foot-5, weighs about 178 pounds and played at Neuse Baptist Christian in Raleigh, NC. Eron Harris is a lithe 6-foot-3 and about 160 pounds and shot mostly from the perimeter at Lawrence North High in Indianapolis.

There are plenty of still-young players returning from last season. Sophomore point guards Jabarie Hinds and Gary Browne were never able to score well at all as they split time as starters for the most part.

Sophomore forwards Aaron Brown (6-foot-5, 220) and Keaton Miles (6-foot-5, 205) both started a slew of games but scored very little. Miles usually guarded any opponent’s best inside scorer if that player wasn’t bigger than 6-foot-7.

None of the returning sophomore guards or forwards could make a high percentage of their field goal attempts.

Dominique Rutledge is back for his senior year. He has been foul-prone and a miserable free throw shooter. Kevin Noreen has been injured so often he has already used a medical redshirt. He is just as foul prone as Rutledge and scores just as little.

Aric Dickerson is a redshirt freshman who shoots often from the outside and does little else.

Kilicli has to give Murray, Staten, and Humphrey

plenty of scoring and rebounding help if the Mountaineers’ first year in the Big 12 is a rewarding one. Foul trouble and inconsistent play have generally plagued the 6-foot-9, 250 pounder.

Gerun might not be quick enough to keep up with the league’s more talented inside players. But if he rebounds at all and isn’t always in foul trouble his presence could mean four or five more wins than if Noreen has to play.

There certainly will be competition for playing time. Too many players have yet to be helpful. Too many have just one or two possible skills.

Murray, Staten, and Humphrey all have to be contributors on a nightly basis once conference play begins on Jan. 5, 2013 at the Coliseum against Oklahoma.

There will 18 conference games as all the other nine teams will each be played twice. The Big 12 tournament comes on March 13-16 at the Sprint Center in Kansas City, MO.

Transition and transfers dominate West Virginia’s picture.

Kilicli and the two sophomore point guards are the only returning starters. And neither Hinds nor Browne is a likely starter to begin this season.

Gerun could flop. Or he could be the reason this team has a forceful starting lineup.

The first official day of practice is this Saturday and the season begins with the toughest of assignments — an 11:59 p.m. start time on Nov. 12 against homestanding Gonzaga in the College Tip Off Marathon. The first home game is on Nov. 29 against VMI.

The Mountaineers have been in the NCAA tournament in all five of Huggins’ previous seasons at WVU. The steel-ribbed schedule will be helpful again in the NCAA’s figuring West Virginia’s tournament worth.

Transfers will have to lead the way . . . whether its to Lawrence or to Charleston to see Marshall.

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