CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Seven of the 20 highest scoring men's basketball teams in Division II last season are part of the new 12-team Mountain East.
First-year University of Charleston Dwaine Osborne knows what he's up against. He just isn't quite sure yet what he has to combat it.
"We're going to find out if we're going to remain competitive," a blunt Osborne said last week from his office inside Eddie King Gym. "I don't think we know that yet. With six guys (returning) on the roster, that is hardly enough.
"Putting the roster together has definitely been patchwork."
Osborne, 37, was introduced as the Golden Eagles' new head coach Aug. 5. A mere 96 days later - Nov. 9 - he'll get introduced to how his team plays the sport he has coached for going on 18 seasons.
"I'm still trying to learn everyone's game," he said. "We've been about to do that a little bit, trying to get comfortable, but it's different watching a guy in an individual workout opposed to a game situation.
"You can go watch a kid in 1-on-0 individual workouts and see him shoot and make some shots, but then he gets in a game situation and he can't throw it in the ocean.
"I think we're still in the feel-it-out mode."
Osborne did not have the benefit of a traditional offseason after he was hired to replace Mark Downey, who abruptly resigned in late July. Charleston returns only four players with significant experience, and one of those, Hayden Annett, will miss the first semester after having foot surgery.
Senior Xavier Humphrey and sophomore Aleksander Kesic had 24 and 20 starts, respectively, last season. But overall, UC will begin the season with five healthy returning players who accounted for only 29 percent of the team's scoring last season.
League kingpin West Liberty, for comparison, returns 65 percent of its scoring from last season's championship roster.
Osborne's late start is a little like a college student attending his or her first class of the semester the week before a final. Now, he is cramming for a brutal exam. The pre-Christmas schedule will provide a heck of a test.
"We might get exposed early," Osborne said.
Seven of Charleston's first eight opponents had a winning record last season. Combined, those eight teams were 82 games over .500. That stretch includes consecutive games against Mountain East challengers West Liberty, Wheeling Jesuit, Fairmont State and Shepherd - four of the top six teams in the West Virginia Conference last season.
UC finished fifth in 2012-13 and third-place Alderson-Broaddus isn't a member of the Mountain East.