WVU basketball: Noreen brothers to meet on court Saturday
CHARLESTON, W.Va. - The last time Kevin and Kyle Noreen were on opposite sides of a basketball game, the hoop was bolted to their garage in Minneapolis, Minn.
"I don't think we've ever played each other in a game, other than in one-on-one in the backyard," Kevin said.
That changes Saturday afternoon in Morgantown, as Kevin's West Virginia University team hosts Kyle's Radford team at 4 p.m. at the WVU Coliseum (ROOT Sports). While they have little experience as opponents, they have plenty as teammates at Minnesota Transitions Charter School and before.
"We've never actually gone against each other in a game situation," Kevin said. "We've always been on the same team throughout high school and in our younger days. It'll be something new for both of us."
The Noreens are two of the most decorated basketball players in Minnesota high school history. Six-foot-10 Kevin was Minnesota's 2010 Mr. Basketball, leading Minnesota Transitions Charter School to a Class A state title while averaging 38.6 points, 16.5 steals, 5.8 assists, 3.9 steals and 3.2 blocks. He's the state's all-time leading scorer with 4,086 career points.
Six-foot-five Kyle ended his high school career as Minnesota's all-time leader in 3-pointers and steals. A four-time all-state selection, he was a 2011 Mr. Basketball finalist averaging 30 points, eight rebounds and five assists as a senior.
"It's really special to do something with your brother like that," Kyle said. "Our goal growing up was to be Division I ball players, and to be living dream at the same time is pretty incredible."
Those one-on-one games got pretty feisty, Kyle said. Kevin usually won them, and they were filled with a lot of fouls and a lot of arguing over those fouls. The trash talk, if you could really call it that, preceding Saturday's game has been much more tame.
"There's not been too much," Kyle said. "He thought they'd have a pretty good chance at winning. I told him 'we'll surprise you guys. I think we'll bring a pretty good team there.' It didn't get too nasty."
This year, Kyle has started 10 of 11 games for the Highlanders, averaging 4.4 points and 4.8 rebounds. Kevin has played in all 10 of the Mountaineers' games, starting one and averaging 3.0 points and 3.3 rebounds. Both are sophomore, though Kevin is a year older. He played just seven games in 2010-11 before undergoing season-ending knee surgery.
Both the Mountaineers (5-5) and the Highlanders (5-6) are dealing with mercurial starts to their seasons. WVU's up-and-down opening headed up again following Wednesday's 76-71 win over Oakland. That snapped a two-game skid including losses to Duquesne at the Consol Energy Center in Pittsburgh and to Michigan at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, N.Y.
Radford is winless for December, with setbacks to Delaware, William and Mary and Charlotte.
After WVU Coach Bob Huggins left him home for the Michigan game, center Aaric Murray returned to record a team-high 12 points and 10 rebounds against Oakland. Still, Huggins said after Wednesday's game he still was searching for consistency from his roster. The Mountaineers are consistently taller than the Highlanders. Radford has a trio of players standing 6-foot-8 - freshmen Kion Brown and Lucas Dyer and sophomore Jalen Carethers - but no one taller.
WVU has its Noreen, plus fellow 6-foot-10 post players Murray and seldom used Volodymyr Gerun and 6-foot-9 Deniz Kilicli.
Radford is led by 6-foot-4 guard Javonte Green. His 13.8 points and 7.2 rebounds per game are the best on the team.
As tough as it might be for the Noreens to face each other Saturday, Kyle figures it'll be even tougher for their parents, Jerry and Karen. The two will be in attendance at the Coliseum, but they'll probably be neutral in their dress.
The jawing, mild as it is, between the brothers has gone silent, Kevin said. They both want a win, but that won't break their familial bonds.
"I haven't talked to him in about a week," Kevin said. "We both know what's coming up here. We're still brothers, but at the same time we're competitors against each other now, so it's definitely a little different for us."
Contact sportswriter Derek Redd at firstname.lastname@example.org or 304-348-1712. His blog is at blogs.dailymail.com/marshall. Follow him on Twitter @derekredd.