Improved Yellow Jackets ready for Beilein, Wesleyan
CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Coach Bryan Poore's West Virginia State Yellow Jackets bear little resemblance to the men's basketball team with the same name from last month.
To start with, the 105-92 drubbing of Glenville State at Fleming Hall on Saturday night is a stark contrast to the 1-4 record the Yellow Jackets stumbled their way through in December. West Virginia State (7-5, 3-3) meets West Virginia Wesleyan (5-5, 2-4) in another West Virginia Conference test tonight at 7:30 in Institute.
The Yellow Jackets enter that game coming off a season-high 105 points. In fact, the last time State put up triple digits was on Nov. 22, 2011 against Ohio Valley University. The difference between this Yellow Jacket team and the one from last semester?
Raymon Austin and Jalen Walker.
Austin played the first two games of the season but was out for more than a month. Walker played three games last semester - none of them at 100 percent.
Following the 13-point win over Glenville State, Poore had a half-smile and chuckled when asked about the difference Austin makes for State.
"He's huge," said Poore, who is in his 14th season running the Yellow Jackets' men's hoops program.
Poore isn't speaking metaphorically. The 6-foot-8 junior, a former Seton Hall commit who signed with State in April, brings a size and presence the Yellow Jackets desperately needed. Austin started the New Year with bang, scoring 23 points and grabbing 12 rebounds against Glenville State.
"He can score, he can pass it, he can rebound it - you have to pay attention to him," Poore said.
Walker added 12 points and five assists to provide another boon to the Yellow Jackets.
"When you put your point guard back out there, it makes this a different team," Poore said.
Anton Hutchins, a 6-4 junior guard, said Walker's difference was in "ball control." Glenville State, down by 10, began a full court press with 16 minutes left in the second half. Walker calmly and confidently brought the ball out of the backcourt.
No one took stats on how many times he crossed the half court line with the ball, but no one doubts the number was high or that it was important. Not once after that in the second half did the lead dip below double digits for West Virginia State.
Hutchins, State's scoring leader, poured in 33 points and grabbed 10 rebounds, a season-high. With the return of two key members of the team, Hutchins' production is up.
"It was fun tonight," said Hutchins, who mentioned the three alley-oop dunks he and his teammates produced in the second half.
Poore and his team will have a chance to continue the fun tonight as they play host to West Virginia Wesleyan, which is coached by former WVU basketball star Patrick Beilein. The first-year Wesleyan coach is the son of Michigan Coach John Beilein, who won 104 games in five seasons at West Virginia from 2002-2007.
The younger Beilein has brought a little of his father's style to the league.
"I've heard of him," Poore said with a sly smile. "I've watched a little bit of film on them and went up and scouted them. Offensively (the system) looks a lot like his father's. They don't play as much 1-3-1 on defense. They've got a nice team."