WVU-P gears up for basketball season

PARKERSBURG -The men’s basketball program at West Virginia University at Parkersburg is entering a new era under first-year coach Derek Fleming, while the Riverhawk women’s program returns a familiar face in Stacy Houser.

Both teams are preparing for their season-openers at home Tuesday against Ohio University-Eastern.

“We have a motto ‘Set the Bar’ – we want our guys to strive and achieve,” said Fleming, who is a 2000 Parkersburg High School graduate and has two years of head coaching experience at Middleton High School (Fla.). “We’re going to try to run up and down with teams. Ideally, we would like to get up the floor, and run and gun.

“I played that same style of ball, and it’s the same style I like to coach. And that is shoot a bunch.”

Among the names who have emerged as impact players are Keith Penn and Dillon McCarty. Penn is in his 30s, takes online courses and is an electrician by trade. The senior led the team in scoring and rebounding last year.

“He’s married and has kids, and he is the best player on our team,” Fleming said. “He is Mr. Everything. Last year, he had Division II scholarship offers from teams asking about him.”

McCarty is the all-time leading scorer at Point Pleasant. The freshman, however, is recovering from a torn ACL and is expected to return on a full-time basis later in the month.

“I watched the team last year and when the job opened up, I threw my name in the hat – I was hired right before school started,” Fleming said. “I look forward to getting out and catching a lot of high school games in the area. I believe there is a lot of talent that doesn’t get used after high school.”

On the women’s side, Houser has one year of coaching the Riverhawks under her belt. Issues with grades left the team with six eligible players by the end of the season. On the brighter side, they won all four of their games in succession in the second semester.

“That enthusiasm we had at the end of last season should carry over into this year,” Houser said.

Houser returns five members from a year ago in Jessica Moore, Kristiana Hunt, Emry Goodwin, Samantha Hicks and Carmen Cutlip.

“In practice, Jessica and Kristiana are the leaders of the team,” Houser said.

With a roster of 12, Houser plans on putting her research to good use after she spent the offseason studying the University of Louisville men’s principle of defense.

“It’s all about up-tempo, and that’s where you score most of your points,” Houser said. “Last year, we built a foundation, and now that we have more athletes we will be in better shape.

“We’ll be able to handle the pressure, and that’s a big difference.”