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Noah Cottrill Ready? Time Will Tell.

Chip Fontanazza over at WV MetroNews has a nice article about incoming point guard Noah Cottrill.  It's an interesting read and, as with all articles regarding recruiting, it's overwhelmingly positive.

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So allow me to get negative for a minute.

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Is this kid the real deal?  I don't know.  The verdict is definitely still out.  Everyone's excited for a wide variety of reasons.  First, he's a point guard, a position where the Mountaineers underachieved last year. Truck Bryant and Joe Mazzulla have had their missteps both on an off of the court, so many fans are clamoring for better ball handling and scoring from the 1 spot.  Will Cottrill make this a reality?  He averaged just under 30 points per game last season, was WV's state player of the year and won a state title for the Logan Wildcats.  Nice numbers, good team-oriented success, what can go wrong, right?

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Call me a naysayer, a self-loathing West Virginian, or whatever, but there's that little nagging voice in the back of my head that says "Yeah, but that was in West Virginia."  He might be the best player in the state but I, for one, would feel a lot better if was the third best point guard in Baltimore, or New York, or Chicago, or somewhere where he can face top notch D-I talent.

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Then, there are quotes like this that raise my concern even more.

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“I really have my mind set on becoming a better defensive player this summer and so I can maybe go up to West Virginia and maybe start and be a big impact on the team,” said Cottrill. “That’s really what my goal is right now, to make an impact my freshman year and be a player guys can look to and say, hey, you know what this kid can play.”
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Gulp.  So he can pour 'em in, but he's never had to worry about D-ing up?  Now I'm concerned.  Casey Mitchell proved down the stretch that he was the scorer that we thought he'd be when he came to campus.  He also proved that he couldn't guard anybody on the ball.  His ability to come off the bench and knock down a couple of threes was greatly hampered by the opposing team taking the ball right at him and nullifying his scoring with easy chances of their own.  If Huggins has taught us anything, it's that if you can't play D, you can't play for him.  So whether or not Cottrill even sees the floor, let alone starts or plays quality minutes still seems like a stretch for me.

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I'm excited for next basketball season.  I'm excited about the foundation that Huggins is building for the Mountaineers for years to come.  Noah Cottrill?  I'm not excited yet.

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I'm reminded of something my father told me 20-odd years ago.  I sat at the breakfast table breathlessly recounting all of the details in the newspaper about a recruit who had just signed with the then Gale Catlett-led Mountaineers.  When I finally finished, my dad just looked me in the eye and without missing a beat pointed out that "They're always great before they get here".

Photographs by dizfunk used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.