Pat Suemnick's illness could throw another monkey wrench into WVU's plans

Jan. 16—MORGANTOWN — Just when you built a little momentum, right ?

That had to be running through the mind of WVU men's basketball coach Josh Eilert on Tuesday, as the Mountaineers were just minutes away from boarding a bus for the Pittsburgh airport.

The final destination was Norman, Okla., and a date with 15th-ranked Oklahoma at 8 p.m. Saturday.

The Sooners (13-3, 1-2 Big 12) have dropped two-straight league games against TCU and Kansas, while being shut down from 3-point range in both games.

WVU STATS Meanwhile, WVU (6-10, 1-2) just beat then-No. 25 Texas and did so with forward Pat Suemnick continuing to emerge as an offensive threat.

"I get a text this morning that (Suemnick) has come up with an illness, " Eilert delivered the news. "He's going to be checked out here by the doctors and trainers to see what he's got going on. We'll try to isolate him as much as we can, as we travel to Pittsburgh."

Eilert did not rule Suemnick out against the Sooners, but these Mountaineers haven't had much good luck so far.

"You never know when you're going to get that call in the morning to hear someone has come down with something, " Eilert continued. "Pat is that guy today."

Suemnick is averaging just under 10 points per game over WVU's last four contests, but it's his 6-foot-8 frame and 235 pounds of muscle the Mountaineers would miss the most if he's unable to play.

Oklahoma has plenty of size down low with Pitt transfer John Hugley (6-10, 275) and Sam Godwin (6-10, 235).

Then again, adjusting on the fly is what this season has been about for the Mountaineers.

They went nine games without their starting point guard, 10 games without their leading scorer and have played six games now without their starting center.

WVU has tried more defenses than the Pentagon, switching between man-to-man, 2-3 zone and even trying to force some half-court traps.

"There's been a lot of adjustments, " Eilert said. "If something's not working and you continue to go to it, that makes zero sense from a coaching standpoint."

What may have been the plan one week may not have been the plan the next. So many X's and O's have been drawn that WVU's game plans are likely beginning to look like the Matrix.

How do the players keep up with it all ?

"It's a pain in the butt for the entire program, " Eilert said. "As soon as the kids learn a new defense and figure out the approach and the technique, you start to change things.

"Some guys pick it up. The veterans pick it up a lot quicker. You've got higher-IQ kids who pick it up faster, but everyone has got to be connected."

Against the Sooners, WVU will face a guard tandem in Javian McCollum and Otega Oweh, who combine for nearly 30 points a game.

McCollum is a transfer from Siena, while Oweh is likely in line for the Big 12's most-improved player. In a span of one season, the sophomore has gone from 4.8 to 14.2 points per game.

"McCollum is a really good player and probably one of the best guards in our league, " Eilert said. "They have a lot of pieces that work really well together and they really complement each other."

WVU at (15) OKLAHOMA WHEN: 8 p.m. Saturday WHERE: Lloyd Noble Center, Norman, Okla.

TV: ESPN + (Online subscription needed)