Charleston, WA – All but two of the eight basketball tournaments either started or ended by Saturday.
The remaining two begin Sunday, including four games at the Charleston Coliseum to begin the West Virginia Regional.
The fourth and final game features host and top-seeded Virginia vs. No. 8 Virginia Dream in a nationally televised game on ESPN2 at 7 p.m.
“The first game is the hardest because you don’t know what the other team is going to do or who the best players are going to be,” Virginia head coach James Long said. “You have the idea and you have the film and the stats, but there’s a lot of uncertainty. Plus, there’s been a huge TBT crowd in the last two weeks when there’s not much else happening in the game right now. We’re watching all the other regionals, but we’re just trying to control who we are and be the best version of ourselves.”
While Long returns as head coach for a second straight season, only four of Best Virginia’s 11 players are holdovers from the 2021 TBT — forwards Kevin Jones and John Flowers, guard Juwan Staten and wing Jamel Morris, a former Fairmont State standout.
Of the seven new additions to Best Virginia, five played under Bob Huggins at WVU: guards Jasean Paige, Jermaine Haley and D’Angelo Hunter and Tevon Myers and versatile forward Devin Ebanks, who like Jones and Flowers, were a key part of the Mountaineers. Made a run to the Final Four in 2010.
Buckhannon native and former Division II All-American Tanner McGrew of West Virginia Wesleyan and late addition Tamon Scruggs, a South Charleston native who starred for Long at WVU Tech, fill out the roster.
“The biggest difference between this year’s team and last year’s team is, last year it was more speed and pressure and this year there is more physicality and length,” Long said. “We’ve got a lot of guys who know how to play off other guys – Jermaine, D’Angelo, Jamal, Tanner. They can play the ball in and out of their hands and are switchable.
“We have a good basketball team and the most important thing is to win the first game, because if we can win the first team, we have a group that will continue to get better through the tournament.”
Since Long is a former player for Huggins in Morgantown, Charleston believes he has a good understanding of what Virginia’s best will need to succeed in his quest for the $1 million winner-take-all prize.
“Anytime you get a Bob Huggins group together, you can bet we’re going to hang our hat on the defensive end,” Long said. “We have a lot of length, physicality and experience. We’re going to bank on the defensive end and rebounding. That’s what we have to do if we want to win six games.”
Best Virginia brings a 3-2 all-time mark over two TBTs into Sunday’s matchup, with Virginia Dream making her TBT debut. The squad features players from a variety of schools, including a pair who played at Radford, VCU, Towson, Hampton and Bluefield University.
“We don’t know much about them, but they’ll be playing in front of thousands of Mountaineers fans on ESPN and they’ll be ready to go, no question,” Long said. “We’re all at the point after a week of practice where we want to play. Regardless of their seed, they are a group of professional basketball players. We can control how we show and act.
All four Sunday games in the West Virginia Regional will be carried by the MetroNews Radio Network with live streaming at wvmetronews.com. Best Virginia’s TBT Opener – No. 4 Heard That Vs. Select affiliate stations across the state will also carry the game live, including games prior to the No. 5 Founding Fathers.
The Marshall-based alumni team takes on the James Madison-based alumni team at 5 p.m. in a TBT opener that will be shown on ESPN3.
Like Best Virginia, Heard That has a 3-2 all-time mark in TBT. A year ago, Heard That won its opener before falling to Team 23 in the second round. Team 23 bested Virginia in the round of 16 and eventually finished as TBT runners-up.
Guard John Elmore, Conference USA’s all-time leading scorer, Key Heard That, which has eight returning players and three freshmen.
If Heard That and Best Virginia both win on Sunday, the two teams will face each other on Tuesday at 8 p.m. for the right to play in Wednesday’s regional final.
— MetroNews (@WVMetroNews) 23 July 2022
2022 TBT West Virginia Regional Schedule
Game 1: Sunday, July 24 – (2) Bucketneers (ETSU) vs. (7) Fully loaded, noon
Game 2: Sunday, July 24 – (3) WoCo Showtime (Wofford) Vs. (6) War Ready (Auburn), 2 p.m.
Game 3: Sunday, July 24 – (4) Heard That (Marshall) vs. (5) Founding Fathers (James Madison), 5 p.m.
Game 4: Sunday, July 24 – (1) Best Virginia (West Virginia) vs. (8) Virginia Dream, 7 p.m.