It looked strikingly similar to March on Monday night as Gonzaga pulled away early and held on to win big over West Virginia, defeating the Mountaineers by a score of 84-50.
Huggins said after the game that his team simply did not compete.
In watching the late night contest, there were some glaring issues that needed to be fixed, but also some good building blocks for Bob Huggins to work with going forward. Here's how we saw it....
Eron Harris: Harris only played a handful of minutes, most of which came long after the game had been decided. He missed his lone shot, a three-point attempt. His form looked good and he did a good job going after the long boards instead of releasing too soon, snaring a pair of rebounds.
Kevin Noreen: Noreen had almost as many fouls as he had minutes played. He didn't get any rebounds and may not have even gotten his finger tips on one. His lone points came after an acting job that had the announcers rolling. The effort he puts forth is undeniable, but he's in his third year now and still looks like the weakest player on the court each game.
Aaron Brown: After concerns were raised due to his 21.4% shooting from deep in the second half last year, Brown airballed his first attempt on Monday night and didn't try another the rest of the game. He was plain bad from the free throw line (3-of-6) and had a tinge of trying to do too much, but that could also be chalked up to no one else stepping up.
Keaton Miles: Miles came off the bench and missed all four of his shots, but the athleticism that makes him a potential star was apparent. He soared through the lane and crashed the boards hard, skying high to snare rebounds over bigger opponents. He finished with five rebounds, swatted a shot and dished out two assists.
Jabarie Hinds: Hinds was best when the team was forcing turnovers and pushing the tempo. That didn't happen much, though, and he often seemed out of sorts lining up as an off-guard to Juwan Staten's point in the half-court offense. He struggled from deep (1-of-6), even though he was frequently open. He finished with nine points on 4-of-10 shooting.
Gary Browne: Browne came off the bench, did a good job getting into the lane and finishing at the line (5-of-5 on free throws). His jumpshot looked similar to last year - hard, flat and suspect from deep. Also like last season, he fought hard for rebounds (three in 19 minutes) against bigger opponents.
Matt Humphrey: I labeled him as Truck Bryant 2.0 before the season.... and the Boston College transfer was 2-of-8 from the field, 1-of-7 from deep, had a pair of turnovers, was twice yanked after giving up easy baskets on the other end and spent the bulk of the game cursing at a towel on the bench. Much like Truck, though, the effort can not be denied. He was constantly scrapping for rebounds (four total, three offensive) and pressuring on defense (three steals).
Terry Henderson: Henderson came in hoping to hit a shot for the struggling Mountaineer offense. He did just that, knocking down a three-pointer after West Virginia had started 0-for-10 from deep. After that, though, the freshman struggled just as bad, finishing 1-of-5. The main concern is that he didn't do anything on offense other than float around the arc - no cutting, no creating, no dishing.
Deniz Kilicli: The Turk was the epitome of the team's struggles - he couldn't shoot (2-of-6 from the floor, 1-of-4 from the line), he couldn't hold onto the ball (five turnovers) and he fouled out in only 26 minutes. After the 6-foot-9, 260-pounder was "screened" by the 5-foot-10, 160-pound David Stockton, the question became, is he tired or just not trying?
Aaric Murray: Murray started off the game with a solid seal and easy bucket. He did the same on the first play of the second half. Aside from that, he was invisible on offense the rest of the game (0-of-3) until eight garbage time points in the last few minutes. The LaSalle transfer did show signs of how special he can be on the defensive end, registering two steals, blocking three shots and altering several more underneath with his length. His desire to block every shot, though, led to him being out of position on rebounds - the give and take of having a shot blocker on your team.
Juwan Staten: Staten's game never was scoring in bunches, so his 0-for-6 shooting with zero points was not that surprising. He's best known for breaking down his defender, getting into the lane and finding a teammate for an open shot. He did that. Problem is, no one could make a shot. Once he realized the shots weren't falling, he seemed flustered.
From my season preview last week.....
I look for things to get off to an ugly start with the opening night game against Gonzaga - west coast, top 25 team, midnight Eastern start time, first game of the year with a bunch of new players.... I think it could be bad, real bad.
To borrow a phrase from former NFL head coach Dennis Green, "they are who we thought they were."
There are no true shooters on this team and there are going to be some issues with depth down low, especially if Dominique Rutledge is going to be so far into the doghouse that Bob Huggins would rather run out a clown car full of midgets than put him on the court in garbage time.
No real concerns here, though, as far as this being indicative of how the season is going to go. This was a perfect storm for a disaster that everyone saw coming from a mile away.
The team will take the next ten days to work out the kinks before having an easier game or two..... and potentially facing Gonzaga again.