MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – With the first win of the season in the books, West Virginia men’s basketball is leaving a long offseason behind and forging ahead into nonconference territory.
Here are the biggest takeaways from interim head coach Josh Eilert’s media availability ahead of WVU’s matchup with Monmouth:
The Mountaineers start the 2022-23 season playing three games in eight days, and the team only has nine available players. As a result, there is a lot of thought that goes into how much effort is exuded both in games and in practice.
Eilert and his staff are spending more time in the film room to combat any early-season fatigue.
“I’ve got to read the room in a lot of ways,” Eilert said. “Yesterday we had a couple things on our starting five that were bothering guys, nagging injuries that were nothing you can’t play through but that’s certainly going to affect your performance if you don’t take care of them the right way. I’ve been more mindful about not getting up-and-down as much. We spend a lot more time in the film room, and the film room is a great teaching tool, so we try to do as much of that as we could.”
The roles of Suemnick and Bembry
With Akok Akok’s absence and Kerr Kriisa’s suspension, both Pat Suemnick and Jeremiah Bembry are receiving more minutes to start the season that previously thought. Suemnick was the second player off the bench for Eilert in WVU’s win over Missouri State Monday.
“Those guys need more reps,” Eilert said. “We haven’t had a great opportunity to get them as many reps as we would like.”
Suemnick scored four points and grabbed a pair of rebounds in eight minutes of play with a team-low -10 plus/minus against Missouri State. Bembry played six minutes with no points on 0-of-2 shooting and a -4 plus/minus.
The other six players who saw the floor Monday all recorded over 20 minutes of playing time.
Learning to smile
Now that WVU has secured its first win after a tumultuous offseason, the metaphorical monkey is off their backs, and the players can focus on the game they love with fewer outside distractions.
But if there’s one thing Eilert wants to see his players do more of, it’s smiling.
“Some of them don’t show enough excitement in anything in their life, and I tell them [that] you might want to smile once in a while,” he said. “….It’s not easy to do. It’s a lot easier to do after the game”