MORGANTOWN, W.Va. -- West Virginia begins the competitive part of its basketball season tonight with an exhibition at home against some familiar faces.
Coach Bob Huggins will tinker with his lineup four days before the regular-season opener.
Who plays, how many minutes they see and what they're capable of offensively and defensively are all stories the Mountaineers will begin to write at 7 p.m. inside the Coliseum against Fairmont State.
The Falcons are coached by former Huggins assistant and director of basketball operations Jerrod Calhoun. Former Huggins point guard Joe Mazzulla is an FSU assistant.
WVU returns point guards Juwan Staten and Gary Browne, shooting guards Terry Henderson and Eron Harris and forward Kevin Noreen from last year's team, which finished 13-19 and saw three players graduate and five others transfer to a different schools.
There are only four first-year players who are likely to help WVU this season, and one of them is recovering from knee surgery he had last month.
"We should be fine," Huggins said. "I think it becomes more of concern as you get in foul trouble, but we were pretty good in 2010-11 when we had like eight guys."
Elijah Macon and Jonathan Holton, arguably WVU's most accomplished and most promising recruits, are both unlikely to play at all this season. Macon, a freshman who spent last season in prep school, is ineligible to participate in practice and games. Huggins said Macon is also recovering from a wrist surgery and that we was probably unable to play this season anyhow.
Holton, who led all junior college players in rebounding last season, has an undisclosed eligibility issue preventing him from playing, though he has been practicing.
That leaves 6-foot-9 freshman forwards Nathan Adrian, Brandon Watkins and Devon Williams and 6-7 junior college forward Remi Dibo to help the holdovers.
Dibo, who had surgery to repair torn knee meniscus three weeks ago, was a second-team junior college All-American last season at Casper (Wyo.) College. He averaged 18.2 points and 4.9 rebounds and made 41.9 percent of his 3-point attempts and 82.7 percent of his foul shots.
Whether Dibo is healthy to start the season or slow to recover, the three freshmen will have to play a lot of minutes and perhaps in starting roles.
"They've all gotten significantly better," Huggins said. "Brandon has come further, Brandon had further to come. Devon being at Montverde (a top prep school in florida) last year, he played a national schedule. He played a lot more games, and Nate picks things up pretty quickly."