Interesting stuff, which seems to be the hallmark of these events this season, but I have an obligation to tell you something that wasn’t pictured. Clint Trickett told reporters he actually had a prior concussion against Kansas State and never told anyone. He then said he would have been inclined to keep quiet the second concussion against Texas if it hadn’t been so obvious.
West Virginia takes on 5-0 Old Dominion on the CBS Sports Network (I’ve got football appointments, so, sorry, no live blog post … unless you want an open post for your own designs) as part of a two-game business trip.
The Mountaineers are serious about taking this season seriously.
“That is very accurate,” Harris said. “I’m more serious than I am playful at this point, even though we’re not playing high-caliber teams. Right now, I’m going into every game like it’s a business affair. We want to be serious.”
That’s a different guy, by the way. I kind of feel like he wanted to be this way last season, but decided not to in deference to his age and his teammates. He won’t be fooled again.
Anyhow, all that stuff about hanging out over the summer and doing team things together, like bowling, was pretty genuine and seemingly beneficial. You can watch those guys play and appreciate how much they like one another and, consequently, how much last year’s team missed that camaraderie.
“They were going to make sure the new guys coming in were treated the way they needed to be treated, not the way they were treated,” Coach Bob Huggins said. “Not that they were treated badly, but there was a kind of indifference. Nobody put their arm around them and said, ‘Welcome to the family.’ They’ve gone out of their way to make sure that happens. I’m not knocking those other guys, but that’s (this team’s) personality and kind of what they think is important, and I think it is.”
We wondered aloud in the F Double whether West Virginia would recruit only William Crest this season and thus stick with the quota or if the Mountaineers might learn from the pitfalls of being short at that position and actively try to add another arm.
OK, so we’re five games in now and, putting the opposition aside, I think we can agree WVU shoots and scores with more ease and regularity than expected. At the minimum, it’s far better than it was last season.
Bob Huggins is not yet of the I-told-you-so tone, but he certainly did say early on that this collection of players was capable of making shots and scoring points. The point scoring part is coming from a quicker, guard-oriented tempo that’s not dragged down by bigs who won’t run and guards who won’t pass.
The Mountaineers are generating extra possessions — about seven more a game; I know it’s early, but to illustrate the point, those extra seven take them from being ranged in the mid 230s in possessions per 40 minutes last season to the mid 90s this season — and thus extra opportunities to score, to say nothing of all the free throws they’ve forced upon the opposition with their style.
This is where we talk about the competition and where we say the only “good” team WVU has faced is the team that beat WVU. And I think with regard to scoring, that has some merit.
But there seems to be a redeeming and almost relative quality about jump shots going through the basket. Good teams make open shots. It tends to be more about you than them. True, opponents can guard better and closer and do different things to discourage made shots, but there is staying power to a team that gets open and makes jump shots. Not just 3-pointers, like six players on this team absolutely can do, but 18 footers off a dribble, step-in 16 footers, 12 footers around a screen, 10 footers on the baseline by one of the two 6-foot-9 freshmen.
WVU isn’t exactly playing the game at the rim, but WVU is among the group of the next-to-the-best shooting and scoring teams in the country.
The question now is how long can it last?
It’s WVU and its Mountaineers take on Presbyterian and its Blue Hose today in the second
round game of the Cancun Classic. WVU plays today and leaves tomorrow for Cancun. A practice day Monday precedes the start of tournament play Tuesday. The game against Old Dominion will be televised by Telemundo the CBS Sports Network. The winner and the loser move on to play the winner and the loser of Wisconsin v. Saint Louis. The consolation and championship games are at 7 and 9:30 p.m. Wednesday, again on CBS Sports Network.
Jay Jacobs, who seriously went through the media buffet line with a plate and sat down with us with an empty plate, told us a story that apparently happened over the radio. Jay and Bob Huggins were asked if they new the name of today’s opponent and they were eventually enlightened. Are they bringing their dance team? Jay quipped.
Oh! But not quite.
Coincidentally enough, former college PR guy Ben Hay Hammet’s 1982 centennial history of PC noted that blue-stocking Presbyterians also referred to “Presbyterians with strong puritan leanings.”
“At any rate,” Hammet wrote, “the sports nickname was shortened to ‘Blue Hose’ in 1954- presumably under the assumption that it sounded somewhat fiercer to carry onto the field of athletic battle.”
And we’re off …
Welcome to the Friday Feedback, which had one of the finest blog engines in all of the Big East, but is just OK right now among Big 12 writers and can’t win any awards. I need better cameras and digital recorders for production and more notebooks for my drafts and a damn “down” button. I don’t think I’m being unreasonable!
But I soldier on during an eventful off week. Dana Holgorsen would like nicer things and people would like to have a variety of opinions about what the head coach is supposed to say and do. Whether you like it or not, there really wasn’t much to see or to construct into something bigger Tuesday. He’s talked about facilities for a long time and specifically what he needs and what’s wrong with what he has.
It’s been going on for so long that Mountaineer Athletic Club donors have already pledged about $2 million of the roughly $5 million the MAC needs pledged so it can begin construction of the new team room. That didn’t happen between Tuesday and today.
“We have a plan in place, and we have for some time now, about how we’re planning on completing the next phase of football renovations,” Borman said. “What Dana said Tuesday, to be honest, gives us some talking points.
“Maybe some people we’ve talked to have read about it in the newspaper or have heard what he had to say, and maybe that’s a call to action for them, but at the end of the day, it’s still our team’s job to go out there and see the do what we can to get those pledges.”
We’ll dig into all of that, but it’s fair now to say this, not because of what was said in this week’s press conference, but because we’ve now been to all of the Big 12′s stadiums and can now think and speak in a free and informed manner.
WVU has the worst football facilities in the Big 12. The worst. I’m sorry, though I don’t think I’ll hear a lot of arguments from the people who have been to most or all of them. And I’d include people at WVU in that group.
I’ll listen to arguments about whether the Mountaineers are No. 9 or No. 10. One of those spots belongs to WVU and one of those belongs to Kansas and it’s not the sort of thing you decide on a Saturday in November. And while Kansas’ football stadium is very underwhelming and in need of fixes, the program has a nice team center and two beautiful practice fields. It’s alarming if you want to make a big deal out of the sort of success the Jayhawks “enjoy” on the field.
WVU has a better stadium, though not one that doesn’t need fixes, and it trails Kansas in the areas where the teams meet, prepare and practice.
Again, we can juggle No. 9 and No. 10, but there’s also this to consider. While there isn’t a great margin between those two, there’s a big gap between No. 8 and No. 9. Figure Texas is No. 1 and Oklahoma State and Oklahoma follow. Baylor is jumping line now and that new stadium is going to be a game-changer. Then you have, I think, TCU, Kansas State, Texas Tech and Iowa State, and maybe you can juggle those four.
There’s a point to be made there, too. WVU is a long way from being on the same level with most of the conference. On the field, Holgorsen wants to be the best and that’s not unreasonable, either. Off the field, I don’t think he wants to be the best because I think he knows he can’t compete here with the baubles at Texas, Oklahoma State and Oklahoma and probably even Baylor now. But a spot in that second echelon should, in his purview, be a goal and a destination.
Making a move to the Big 12 was a move into a new neighborhood with a new neighborhood association with new rules and expectations about how you have to maintain your home. WVU’s facilities are good enough to win with, much like they were for Don Nehlen and Rich Rodriguez and Bill Stewart. Nobody is denying that. But are they good enough to win with at a high level consistently?
This is where the conversation changes. Quite likely, the answer is that, no, they are not. Not now. Not with the armaments you need to win these new battles. The world changed when conference realignment happened, but before that, WVU was losing ground as the most talented team in the Big East and the school with the best and most toys. I’m not confident the Mountaineers have adequately made up for what was lost.
The Mountaineers are trying to recruit and then develop players who are good enough to help them win and win in the Big 12. That means beating out very good schools for the services of those players, but also turning the players you have into even better player with the resources you have on campus.
More often than not, the recruiting battles are not against Big 12 schools, but against regional neighbors, which means you have to out-facility them, too. The development capabilities are a necessity to compete in the Big 12. Both are attained with far greater ease and regularity when you can use what you have and wow players and trump competitors at the start. That’s not happening when you won’t show recruits the training room — and really, how much time do players spend in the training room in their career? Ask these Mountaineers about that.
Don’t move into a new house with a wine cellar and not fill it with bottles because you fear you might drink the wine.
Onto the Feedback. As always, comments appear as posted. In other words, dish it out.
oklahoma mountaineer said:
I’m not sure if this is a sign of the times or just bad evaluation on our coaching staff:
2012 class: 11 of the 29 signed no longer with the team
Maybe this is a sign of the times, but that should be your sophomore and redshirt freshman class. I would think that is what you lay your hopes for improvement on….unfortunately, the majority of the losses are at the top end of that class (in terms of recruiting stars).
This drove 2 things — more JCs in this year’s class and took scholarships that could have been 4-year guys and brought in attempts at quick fixes that will be out of the program next year.
You can’t continue to lay this at the feet of Stew as these are your guys……..and, as fans, we are left holding the bag as DH rightly said Saturday afternoon — this is not the Big East.
That’s a lot of departures. A lot. And as you mentioned, some of them are highly regarded players, too. Yet WVU has 50 players scholarship players in the freshman and sophomore classes, so all is not lost. What’s half of 50? How large is a recruiting class? The answer to both is 25. It’s getting on track again. Now, as for that Big East comment, people aren’t going to like that only if they don’t get the message. If they think Dana is disparaging what WVU achieved in the Big East, well, one, I think they’re wrong, and, two, I think they completely miss the point. The Mountaineers have never, ever played a schedule like they have these past two years. Is WVU much different today as far as talent, personnel, depth, potential, so on and so forth, than it was in 2005 or 2007? Not really. But Texas and Oklahoma aren’t much different either. Oklahoma State and Baylor are much different.
He’s in shape and in position to lead the team. He’s running and passing and quietly playing pretty good defense. He’s also scoring and shooting and making a 3-pointer Thursday for the first time in 33 months.
F Double is in the works for later today.
Oh, hey, we’re live at the Coliseum tonight for the first game of the Triple Crown Cancun Classic. Let’s jump right into the action as the tip is moments away as 2-1 Georgia Southern and 2-1 WVU decide whether or not the Mountaineers advance with a win or a loss to Saturday’s game against Presbyterian, where WVU and the Blue Hose (!) decide if the Mountaineers take momentum to Cancun for their game against Old Dominion.
Some field. Let’s blog.
We have our first reaction from the postgame kerfuffle Sunday in Hawaii. WVU assistant coach Lester Rowe was publicly reprimanded by Big 12 Commissioner Bob Bowlsby Thursday.
“Coaches have the responsibility to refrain from behavior that incites negative fan conduct. Coach Rowe is also put on notice that future incidents may result in a more serious penalty.”
A tidy Thursday with no chat, but with a basketball game and a live post later this evening. And this morning, Scoop & Score is on the air live at 9 a.m. with Ryan Dorchester and his qualified opinions on recruiting. Then I’ll say some stuff about what went right and wrong this season and what has to happen in the future.