In case you didn't know, Jamie Smalligan is a 7'0" senior center for the West Virginia Mountaineers. Smalligan is easily the biggest man on the court for the Mountaineers. Next closest is Joe Alexander coming in at a measly 6'8". But Smalligan may be the smallest "big man" there could be. He gets pushed around on the inside and would much prefer to hang out on the perimeter and shoot 3's. (Remember, he was a John Beilein guy). I'm not saying this to knock Smalligan...he is what he is. What I'm going to talk about is how badly Mountaineer fans want Smalligan to actually succeed in the new Huggins system.
While attending the Seton Hall game today, no player quite generated the pull of the crowd like Smalligan. Everyone kinda cringes when he touches the ball, afraid he'll do something really, really stupid but they are definitely hoping he does something amazing. The guy behind me was very, very excited that Smalligan pulled down 3 rebounds early in the game and insisted that Smalligan was on his way to a double-double. (BTW, Smalligan averages 2.9 rebounds a game compared to Alexander's 5.9, Butler's, 5.5 and 6'3" Darris Nichols' 3.6).
Unfortunately, Smalligan did not get his double-double, only scoring 3 points but pulling down a solid 5 rebounds. And while that was a decent effort for the seven-footer, it is probably far from the game Bobby Huggins would want his center to have. Despite a rigorous off-season training program, Smalligan remains soft around the basket and awkward with the ball inside. His moves leave a lot to be desired and I would guess that Huggins won't be completely upset to the see the senior leave.
But Mountaineer fans have rallied behind Smalligan despite the obvious flaws he possesses in Huggins system. WVU fans want to see Smalligan miraculously turn into the "big man" and put together a monster game. I want that too. I just don't see it happening. But we still have a few games to hope and maybe, just maybe, Smalligan will live up to the potential everyone believed he had when he transferred from Butler. We can only hope...