MORGANTOWN, W.Va. -- There was a time when Kevin Noreen was Mr. Basketball in Minnesota and his high school team couldn't win without him.
A lot has changed since his days at Minnesota Transitions Charter School. He's traded bushels of baskets and 3-point shots for rebounds and ball screens, but one thing is suddenly again the same. Noreen is literally in the middle of what West Virginia has to do to win.
"I'd like to think that," the 6-foot-10 redshirt sophomore said. "You sell yourself to the coaching staff every day in practice and show what you bring to the table."
The Mountaineers (8-9, 1-3 Big 12) play host to TCU (9-9, 0-5) at 7:30 p.m. The ESPN2 game at the Coliseum will likely feature WVU's new offensive tactic for a third straight game. The Mountaineers are playing an open, four-out, one-in offense where Noreen is the one inside and facilitates the four guards on the outside.
WVU Coach Bob Huggins started this philosophical shift in the second half of last week's loss at Iowa State, where his team battled back from an 18-point deficit to tie the game late and Noreen had 10 rebounds.
Huggins had grown tired of watching his five-out, motion offense stall with players who wouldn't pass and against defenses that would sink down from the perimeter to crowd the paint and take away WVU's cuts and passes.
The open offense spreads the floor more and creates more room for the guards.
"It's really designed to get the four guards paint touches," Noreen said. "What they're trying to do is drive the ball and kick it out for a shot or drive it and shoot a layup. They want me setting ball screens and giving them a path to the basket. It's just designed to get the open looks we weren't getting with our motion."
The change isn't as sudden as it seems.
The Mountaineers had it in their repertoire for a while, but Huggins was partial to his motion offense and felt his bigger lineups were better.
He started the season with Aaric Murray and Deniz Kilicli starting in the frontcourt. He later swapped them for Noreen and Rutledge.
The Mountaineers coach exhausted his patience, though, as he watched his bigger players struggle to pass and rebound.
Rutledge was switched out for Matt Humphrey, who may give way tonight to Terry Henderson if he's able to return from the back injury that kept him out of the past two games.