The Mountaineers did, hmm, OK against Jeff Withey four games ago, that back when WVU had its share of trouble, but figured to be in real big trouble against Withey.
(Aside: Withey is one blocked shot away from tying the Big 12 record. Can you guess who has the record? I was a little surprised.)
The calendar has turned and WVU has at least neared the corner it intends to turn. And now here comes another big problem — and not the first of seven games in the final eight against the RPI top 50.
His name is Isaiah Austin and in some ways he’s a 7-foot-1 2 guard. He doesn’t play in the backcourt. He starts in the front court. But he seems to belong in either spot.
“I could always dribble,” he said. “For some reason, that’s something I can do really well. I’ve got a gift, a natural talent God gave me.”
This is where things start to become hard for Austin to explain. He does things that defy his height. He averages 1.1 assists per game. He sometimes bails out the Bears against pressure defense. He’s shooting 19-for-58 from 3-point range.
The Big 12 preseason rookie of the year sometimes does things that make the Big 12′s preseason player of the year, 5-11 point guard Pierre Jackson, shake his head.
“He’s ridiculous,” Jackson said. “You’re not used to seeing 7-1 players dribble between players, dribble between their legs, dribble behind their backs, do spin moves, things like that. It shows you how much the game is evolving. It shows you how good of a player he is.”
Austin has at least one 3-pointer in 15 games. Nobody on WVU’s team has done that. Yet, at 215 pounds, he also leads the Big 12 Conference in rebounding, offensive rebounds and defensive rebounds. And for good measure, he blocks 1.5 shots per game.
So that’ll be fun tomorrow night.
But the bigger questions: Bigger freak? Isaiah Austin …
… or Tavon Austin?
P.S. Chris Mihm has the conference record for blocked shots.