MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – The first one had to come at some point, but this was a little earlier than interim head coach Josh Eilert expected.
Here are the biggest takeaways from Eilert’s postgame comments following WVU’s first loss of the season:
Fans will hear a lot about WVU’s short bench until guard Kerr Kriisa returns from his suspension and Akok Akok comes back from his medical scare, but Eilert refuses to give excuses for his team’s poor performance.
“I’m just as guilty as everybody else,” Eilert said. “I’ve got to figure out what I can do better, what I can do better for them. We all need to have a heart-to-heart and start figuring [it] out…We got to figure this thing out, and we will.”
Attacking a zone
WVU center Jesse Edwards recorded six of the game’s first 22 points, and it quickly became apparent to Monmouth that WVU’s offense was running through Edwards.
At some point in the first half, the Hawks switched to a 2-3 zone in an effort to keep the basketball on the perimeter. The Mountaineers struggled to crack it.
“They knew [that] in half-court man-to-man we we’re going to try to get him as many touches as possible, and they saw the weakness in that part of the strategy, so they went zone early and often,” Eilert said. “I don’t necessarily think we got bad shots, but we didn’t knock them down.”
Still, Edwards finished with a team-high 16 points with 13 rebounds. He recorded a double-double in each of the first two games.
As a team, WVU shot 21.9% (7-for-32) from three-point range.
“They knew our rotational situation, and they took advantage of it,” Eilert said.
The Rice Show
In hockey terms, Monmouth guard Xander Rice earned Friday night’s first star. Rice – a Bucknell transfer and the son of Hawks head coach King Rice – exploded for 30 points for Monmouth on 7-of-13 shooting with five three-pointers.
“He had 30 points, but he also had six assists and one turnover, so he got other people involved too,” Eilert said. “So he wasn’t taking every shot, and he was fairly efficient.”