Brandon Watkins: In or out?

If nothing else, Brandon Watkins appeared at a most opportune moment Saturday. Kevin Noreen, he of the air balled layup, was allowed to play just seven minutes. Nathan Adrian, the freshman whose slide continues, played four minutes and favored his sprained ankle.

A decisive double-double in 27 minutes was what West Virginia needed against Marshall.

And it really did come out of nowhere. Watkins hadn’t been playing and had been challenged in practice to prove his worth. Just before the Capital Classic, Watkins started to answer some of the questions asked of him. Then Huggins, admittedly running out of options in a sad first half, asked Watkins to show him something

“It’s really good for us because we can actually say, ‘Oh, we have one other guy to help us,’” Browne said. “Now we need to keep him going and keep on him every day in practice and every time we play a game and say, ‘All right, you already did this once. You can do this again.’”

That’s interesting because Watkins is an interesting piece.

Watkins is the longest, rangiest player on the team and the only guy who can block and contest shots inside. He’s not particularly explosive, but he seems to care about his role. There was one great sequence Saturday where he was spinning and swatting and altering shots and trying to grab a defensive rebound before the situation got the best of him and he was called for a foul. It wasn’t his fault, and Huggins screamed at Terry Henderson to help Watkins out, but it was fun to see Watkins going all out for 10 seconds.

He’s a bit slight, for now, to be a consistently great rebounder, but he gets his hands on a lot of stuff and he’ll outreach and outmaneuver people to get his share of boards. He doesn’t look really interested in scoring, but he screens and rolls pretty well and Juwan Staten seemed to recognize that as the game went on, which was also neat to see because that’s probably the most they’ve played together.

Noreen and Remi Dibo screen. They’re not very good rollers. Devin Williams is OK at it, but he’s thus far been a so-so player when he gets the ball fed to him inside, and he likes to shoot a little. Watkins set his screens Saturday and went to the basket and waited for something to happen.

It’s only a small sample and, seeing as if it was so sudden, there’s this urge to downplay it, to call it something that happened one night and not something that everyone saw coming. There’s a lot of Jacob Green there, if that means anything to you.

Yet WVU has a lot of practice time coming and desperately needs someone to play some effective minutes and do a good job at the basket before Williams wears down in, say, January. Really, Williams is all the Mountaineers have in that category. Adrian can’t play inside eight feet. Noreen can’t stay in games when asked to play inside. Dibo, who I thought was sneaky good serving a different purpose against Marshall, looks like he can be a blend of a more physical Adrian and a less physical, though more offensive Noreen.

If you set the expectations appropriately for Watkins — which is to say don’t expect a double-double very often, but also don’t ask him to play 27 minutes very often — there might be something there. So are you in or out on Watkins?

10 Responses to “Brandon Watkins: In or out?”

  1. Rugger says:

    “more offensive that Noreen”.

    The Red Panda is more offensive than Noreen.

    The 2000 Ravens were more offensive than Noreen.

    Jeff Mullen is more offensive than Noreen.

    nice kid though.

  2. netbros says:

    Yeh, it’s hard to figure how Noreen scored more than 4,000 points in high school, unless the opponents were all 5’9″. I thought he might turn out to be a role player similar to Cam Thoroughman. He isn’t there yet, but not for lack of trying. His very slow foot speed and the new foul rules are what are cutting down his minutes. He can’t help but foul. I wonder how he would work out in the center of the 1-3-1.

  3. The Artist Formerly Known as EER96 says:

    This may be the post of the year! Gold, Rugger, gold I tell ya!

    “more offensive that Noreen”.

    The Red Panda is more offensive than Noreen.

    The 2000 Ravens were more offensive than Noreen.

    Jeff Mullen is more offensive than Noreen.

    nice kid though.

  4. smeer says:

    Kevin Noreen is legally changing his name to “N’reen” because he has no O to speak of.

    Remi Debo is legally adding “ngton” to his first name because he’ll shoot from anywhere and keep shooting whether he hits the target or not.

    Nathan Adrian is changing his middle name to “Hale” because he regrets that he has but one offensive rebound per game to give for his teammates.

    Brandon Watkins is legally changing his middle name to “Booger” because he knows how to pick and roll.

  5. Dann White says:

    When he began to assert himself at the Civic Center, my first words about Watkins were; “who is this????”. Apparently this kid is a more of a ‘gamer” than a presence in practice, I’ll happily take that.
    By the way Mike, good article on Watkins, this is the kind of stuff that draws old “bleeding heart” liberal democrats, like myself, to Charleston’s conservative Republican rag; The Charleston Daily Smell…..I mean, Mail.
    I gotta’ say again that we who blog with you are really fortunate to have this resource to call upon while engaging in our obsession with all things Mountaineer Sports.
    They can replace a Dana Holgorsen or a Bobby Huggins, but they will never find another Mikey; I promise you that. I also promise that we who wait for your every word, know that. Have yourself a merry little Christmas Mike, Erinn, and Lilo. Have lots of Turkey, Pumpkin Pie, and Milk Bones (and feel free to hide some here and there for safekeeping and future sniff searches) We,ll be thinking of you

    Dann

  6. hoot says:

    wow, things are getting a little creepy here this morning after that last post by
    Dann. I’ll just check back later.

  7. JP says:

    There’s nothing like the smell of Jaegermeister in the morning.

  8. SheikYbuti says:

    Rugger, you had me until “Jeff Mullen is more offensive than Noreen.” All illusions of plausibility were shattered at that moment.

  9. SheikYbuti says:

    I’d be more willing to buy “more offensive than Brent Musberger backstage at a beauty pageant.”

  10. Rugger says:

    awesome Sheik. another to consider:

    “more offensive that Petrino showing up at the Chi O Spring Formal in chaps riding a scooter”.