CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Shepherd University Coach Justin Namolik knows all about West Liberty.
Namolik graduated in 1995 from Wheeling Park High School - less than 10 miles from the West Liberty campus.
He also has something in common with West Liberty Coach Jim Crutchfield - building his program without many junior college or Division I transfers.
Chad Moore, a 2012-13 All-American, was a four-year player as are current seniors Marcus Pilgrim and Brantley Osborne. Junior guard Austin Cunningham is a transfer from Ohio Valley College and senior Kevin Jones is in his second season after playing at Indiana (Pa.). Logan Holloman, a former Hedgesville standout, played at Liberty University.
There are six freshmen on the Shepherd roster, as well as two sophomores and two juniors among the 14 roster spots.
"I've recruited 28 kids to Shepherd and we retained 24 of them," said Namolik, whose Rams are tied with West Liberty at the top of the Mountain East Conference with a 4-0 league mark. "It's not like we don't look for it. I feel if we do take a transfer he has to be the right fit for our program."
Shepherd has won nine of its first 10 games and is on an eight-game winning streak after Saturday's overtime victory against Winston-Salem State.
Then again, the Rams opened last season with an 8-2 record and won just seven of its last 17 games, stumbling to the No. 8 seed in the last West Virginia Conference Tournament and losing to Glenville at home in the first round.
The Rams are off to another hot start to this season.
Shepherd went unbeaten in its own tip-off event - the Clarion Hotel Conference Challenge - as well as the Wolf's Bus Lines Classic in Shippensburg and the Porreco Cup at Gannon University.
Osborne averages 21.3 points, 4.6 assists and 4.4 rebounds for the Rams, while Cunningham is at 15.8 points, 4.6 assists and 4.4 rebounds. Kevin Jones (15.8), former Musselman star Morgan McDonald (11.6) and Naim Muhammad (10.8) average in double figures.
"It starts with the leadership of our captains," Namolik said. (Brantley) Osborne, (Marcus) Pilgrim and (Logan) Holloman are high-energy guys, are the hardest workers in practice and do a good job of holding their teammates accountable. The guys respond to them."
Shepherd is off until Jan. 4 when the Rams have two road games in three days against Notre Dame (Jan. 4) and Urbana (Jan. 6) prior to a visit to West Liberty on Jan. 9.
The Hilltoppers are the WVC's dominant program, winning the last four regular season championships. West Liberty is No. 1 in the National Association of Basketball Coaches' NCAA Division II Poll and is poised to win the inaugural MEC title.