Noah Farrakhan played first game on instinct, but WVU still faces challenges with revolving lineup

MORGANTOWN — Noah Farrakhan found out a couple of things last week, but nothing topped the sudden change of direction in his basketball future.

At one time, the junior guard from Hillside, N.J. admits his expectations were to simply sit and watch from WVU’s bench this season, complying with NCAA transfer rules applied to players who have transferred twice without earning a college degree.

That all changed less than a week ago, first because of a temporary restraining order set forth by a federal judge, then by an accompanying agreement between the NCAA and the seven states who have challenged the NCAA’s rules in court.

“It was pretty much a shock,” Farrakhan said. “I didn’t think the NCAA was going to overturn anything or give us the right to play. It was shocking, but also a dream come true.”


The decision to play right away for the Mountaineers (4-6), even though he had already missed nine games, was a no-brainer.

“I wanted to be out there with my teammates,” he said. “I wanted to help them win. My teammates were pretty much going to war. Seeing that, it kind of motivated me.”

The other thing Farrakhan learned sounds rather simplistic in saying the ball is still round, the basket is still 10 feet high and the court is still 94-feet long.

Basketball is still basketball, which is the way Farrakhan made it look last Saturday in his WVU debut.
He needed just 18 minutes to score 15 points and dish out four assists against UMass.

“A lot of it was instinct,” he said Tuesday, as the Mountaineers prepared for Wednesday’s visit from Radford, coached by former WVU standout Darris Nichols. “I’ve been playing basketball for countless years and countless hours in a gym. It was pretty much instinct. It pretty much came natural.”

Farrakhan spent much of the season to that point on the scout team.

As the way WVU head coach Josh Eilert put it, it was difficult getting Farrakhan regular reps in practice, because the belief for so long was that he wasn’t going to play in games.

“None of us in our wildest dreams thought Noah was going to play this year,” Eilert began. “If we knew he was going to be thrown into the fold, we would have been getting him more reps.

“Has he done a good job of keeping up with what we’re doing offensively? I think he’s got a high-enough IQ to pick it up really fast, but he certainly doesn’t know it as well as the other guys.”

Farrakhan says he is “familiar” with WVU’s playbook, although he’s been getting a crash course of sorts in the few days since the UMass game.

Much has changed with the Mountaineers’ lineup in recent days, with Farrakhan’s addition just one of several differences.

WVU will also add guard RaeQuan Battle, who became the face of the federal suit against the NCAA, into the lineup against Radford (9-4). He sat out the UMass game with the flu, but has returned to practice and Eilert said “100-percent” Battle will play.

The Mountaineers then lost center Jesse Edwards for the next month due to a fractured wrist suffered against UMass.

The team found out just an hour before practice began Monday that Edwards needed surgery.

The loss of Edwards not only hurts WVU in the rebounding department, but also in the Mountaineers’ style of play.

“Maybe three-quarters of the stuff that we ran in the past, it went through Jesse Edwards,” Eilert said. “That’s going to go away or it’s going to be tabled for a month. What we do offensively is going to have to take a left turn.”

With Edwards, who averages 8.7 boards per game, the Mountaineers were still last in the Big 12 in rebounding.

What will it look like without Edwards?

“We keep drilling it and drilling it, and you hope it gets through their head,” Eilert said. “Until we buy in on the rebounding, we’re going to struggle to beat anybody. A lot of rebounding is effort and discipline, and we haven’t shown that just yet. Now, we’re losing our leading rebounder. Hopefully that wakes those guys up that this is truly important as a key to victory every night.”


WHEN: 7 p.m. Wednesday
WHERE: WVU Coliseum
TV: ESPN+ (Online subscription needed)

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