West Virginia starts 2010-11 practice

West Virginia, minus three players from last season’s Final Four

team, showed off their recruits and a returning group of veterans

in a scrimmage for fans.

Friday night’s celebration was tempered somewhat by West

Virginia’s announcement that guard Casey Mitchell was suspended

indefinitely for an undisclosed violation of team rules. The

6-foot-4 senior averaged 3.7 points per game last season.

The Midnight Madness session kicked off the start of practice

for the Mountaineers, who open the season Nov. 12 at home against


The cheerleaders rolled out the carpet to welcome the

Mountaineers. Da’Sean Butler, last season’s captain, spoke to the

crowd from the jumbotron.

”We had a great run last year and we couldn’t have done it

without you guys,” he said.

The crowd cheered as the Big East championship and the Final

Four banners were hung in the coliseum to begin the


”It’s a special thing when you can come back home and bring

your children and show them that banner right there,” coach Bob

Huggins said.

The Mountaineers are coming off a school-record 31-win season in

which they advanced to the Final Four in Indianapolis where they

lost to eventual national champion Duke.

Following the hanging of the banners, John Flowers, Dan Jennings

and Dalton Pepper participated in a slam dunk contest. Pepper won

with some help from the crowd’s applause.

The team scrimmaged two 6-minute quarters with forward Deniz

Kilicli and guard Joe Mazzulla standing out.

West Virginia has to replace half of its point production in

Butler, the leading scorer, top rebounder and defender Devin Ebanks

and starting forward Wellington Smith.

Second-leading scorer Kevin Jones, who averaged 13.5 points, is

back, along with starting guard Truck Bryant. Joining them are

veteran forwards Flowers, Kilicli and Jennings and guards Mitchell,

Pepper and Mazzulla, the MVP of the East Regional after scoring a

career-high 17 points in a win over Kentucky.

The Mountaineers welcomed four newcomers: guards Kenny Ross and

Noah Cottrill and forwards Darrious Curry and Kevin Noreen.

The 6-foot-10 Noreen, who averaged nearly 39 points, 16.5

rebounds and 5.9 assists last season, is Minnesota’s all-time

leading prep scorer. He originally signed to play at Boston College

but was given a release from his letter of intent after the Eagles

fired coach Al Skinner.