MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Men’s basketball interim head coach Josh Eilert addressed the media Tuesday for the first time since the program parted ways with guard Jose Perez over the weekend. Eilert stated that WVU is moving forward without the transfer guard.
Aside from that, West Virginia’s leader spoke on many topics, including who has stepped up over the past few days, and what fans can expect at this week’s Mountaineer Madness event.
Here are the biggest takeaways from Eilert’s latest press conference:
Still waiting on Battle’s waiver
When Eilert met with the media last week, he noted that he and the team are still waiting on the NCAA’s decision on RaeQuan Battle’s waiver to play this season. As of Tuesday morning, that is still the case.
“No, nothing yet. So, we’re just patiently waiting,” said Eilert. “It weighs heavy on everyone but certainly weighs heavy on him. I have personal conversations with him every day in terms of how to handle it, and keep your head on straight. And he’s just a special, special kid.”
Eilert called Battle a special player the last time he spoke. He went a step further Tuesday when discussing how Battle acts as a person.
“I can’t wait until you guys dig into his story and get to know him, because he’s someone that Mountaineer Nation can really gravitate towards and adopt as one of their own, and I think you all will love him,” Eilert said.
Getting better chemistry
West Virginia is a week into official practices and has one intrasquad scrimmage under its belt. Eilert said he is “pleasantly surprised” with where the team is. That’s even after the team had “bad vibes” on the second day of practice, which forced Eilert to stop drills multiple times to get things corrected.
Things have improved since, especially as it relates to the team’s chemistry.
“Guys are starting to understand what other guys can do. The more we can develop in that area, the better off we’re going to be,” said Eilert. “I’m continually trying to mix and match with the rotations and the teams, so it’s competitive day in and day out.”
Chemistry is of the utmost importance to Eilert. He believes that great chemistry can lend a hand to a team playing above its talent level.
Starting lineup is TBD
On that note, Eilert said he has not established a starting lineup yet, and has not separated players into starting and non-starting roles.
While the starting lineup has not been set, there were standouts from last weekend’s intrasquad scrimmage. One individual standout was Seth Wilson, who was on a “blue” team that included multiple returning players.
On the other side were at least three newcomers who are expected to be factors for the Mountaineers this season.
“The core group on the ‘white’ team was Kerr [Kriisa], [RaeQuan Battle], Jesse [Edwards]. So, you saw some errors that you can attribute to that,” added Eilert. “The shots weren’t falling for Rae early, they weren’t falling for Kerr. So, the pressure got turned up late in the game, we forced overtime.”
Upcoming secret scrimmage
WVU has one intrasquad scrimmage in the books, and will have another on Saturday, according to Eilert.
This year’s Mountaineer men’s hoops team will take on an opposing team for the first time on Sunday, Oct. 15, though it will be behind closed doors. Eilert did not specify who the opposing team will be, though he did say the scrimmage will be against “a legit opponent.”
“Anytime I can bring referees in here and simulate a real game, it’s going to be to my benefit, our assistants’ benefit, the players’ benefit,” said Eilert. “We’re trying to reward them and simulate the best we can.”