The return of our weekly West Virginia University notebook stuffed with news and notes to help you get your week started ...
* West Virginia University Director of Athletics Oliver Luck will receive the Life Membership Award at the 64th annual Cleveland Touchdown Club Charities Award Dinner to be held at the Baldwin-Wallace College Strosacker College Union on Saturday, March 3.
Luck will be the featured speaker at this year’s event. The WVU AD was once a standout prep performer at St. Ignatius High in Cleveland.
* West Virginia’s four-year streak of averaging 10,000 fans per game at the WVU Coliseum is in jeopardy tomorrow night when the Mountaineers play host to DePaul on Senior Night for Kevin Jones and Truck Bryant.
West Virginia is currently averaging 9,909 fans per game heading into Tuesday night’s game, and will need a crowd of 11,168 to average 10,000 for the season. Last year, the Mountaineers averaged 11,469 one year after a school-record 12,377 attended WVU games during the team's run to the Final Four.
* Despite recent disappointing losses to Notre Dame and Marquette, West Virginia still has a good shot of landing an NCAA tournament at-large bid if it can get wins against DePaul and South Florida to end the regular season.
According to RealTimeRPI.com, West Virginia’s RPI is 46th this morning with the sixth-toughest schedule in the country. The Mountaineers (17-12) have four losses to RPI Top 25 teams by a combined eight points against Baylor, Louisville, Syracuse and Marquette.
The Mountaineers could be this year’s USC, which got into the Big Dance last year with an RPI of 67 and a 19-14 record before falling to VCU in the tournament’s first round.
Don’t forget, there are once again four extra teams that must be considered for the tournament.
Meanwhile, the Mountaineer women are in great shape with a 20-8 record heading into tonight’s season finale against Pitt. West Virginia is locked in as the fifth seed for this year’s Big East tournament and will face the 12-13 winner on Saturday at noon in Hartford. The Mountaineers could be looking at a possible rematch down the road against either St. John’s or Georgetown, depending upon how tonight’s action shakes out.
* Speaking of Truck Bryant, the senior guard was reminiscing with reporters down on the floor before today’s practice about his four years at WVU. Asked to give his best Bob Huggins story, Bryant chuckled and brought up several.
“I think the funniest was Dan Jennings saying him and Turk were going to be like David Robinson and Tim Duncan, and Huggs sat us all down because we were having a bad practice and he said, ‘Are you (kidding) me? David Robinson and Tim Duncan?’
“That was pretty funny.” (Kidding actually wasn’t the word Huggs used)
Truck had another one, “Last year we were playing a team we should have been beating and we were tied at halftime and Huggs came into the locker room and he said, ‘I’ve got a new cheer for us … ‘Let’s go lose!’ That was kind of funny, too.”
And one more … “Sophomore year me and Wellington (Smith) would always used to get beat on defense and we were in film and Coach is like, ‘When you see 25 and when you see 35, scream HELP, HELP because they’re getting beat!’”
“Coach Huggins and his stories may be one of my best memories of being here,” said Bryant.
* Got an email last week from former WVU sports information director Shelly Poe, who informs me that Darryl Prue is now coaching professional basketball overseas in China. Prue was an outstanding player for Gale Catlett at WVU in the late 1980s, helping the Mountaineers to NCAA tournament trips in 1986, 1987 and 1989.
* A 40th anniversary celebration of the 1972 U.S. Olympic men’s basketball team that lost the gold medal to the Soviet Union in controversial fashion is being planned for Aug. 23-26 at Georgetown College in Georgetown, Ky. Kenny Davis, captain of the ’72 team and Georgetown College alumnus, is spearheading the event.
Longtime West Virginia University athletic trainer A.C. “White” Gwynne served as head athletic trainer for the U.S. Olympic team that year. The late Gwynne is a member of the West Virginia University Sports Hall of Fame.
* The guess here is that the unofficial 4.43 time Bruce Irvin ran at the NFL Combine this morning will likely mean a few extra bucks for the former Mountaineer pass rushing standout come draft day. Irvin’s time was the fastest among defensive linemen this morning; Big Bruce, who measures in at 6-foot-3 and 245 pounds, had 22 ½ sacks for the Mountaineers during his two-year career.
Linebacker Najee Goode is also participating at this year’s combine in Indianapolis.
Irvin and Goode figure to continue West Virginia’s trend of getting defensive players drafted. Since 2008, six Mountaineer defensive players have been taken, compared to three offensive players and one specialist (Pat McAfee).
* The next opportunity to hear Mountaineer football coach Dana Holgorsen speak will be on Monday, March 5 when he conducts his spring practice media luncheon at the Milan Puskar Center. At that time Holgorsen plans on announcing his coaching staff assignments for the 2012 season. This event is only open to media members.
West Virginia will begin spring work on Sunday, March 11 and will conclude with the Gold-Blue Spring Game on Saturday, April 21.
* ESPN3 is about ready to launch a new Facebook tab for Championship Week that will enable you to access ESPN3’s coverage of the Big East men’s and women’s basketball tournaments from West Virginia University’s official men’s and women’s basketball Facebook pages.
You can follow men’s basketball at http://www.facebook.com/wvumensbasketball
and women’s basketball at http://www.facebook.com/wvuwomensbasketball
* West Virginia was one of 16 schools to advance to the semifinal round of the Naismith Student Section of the Year Award being put on by The Collegiate Licensing Company.
The next phase includes more fan voting to determine the eight finalists. Fans can visit www.facebook.com/ILoveCollegeHoops
to vote for the Mountaineers.
Speaking of voting, great job everyone to advance Huggs into the final round
of the Infinity Coaches’ Challenge in support of the Norma Rae Huggins Fund benefiting the Mary Babb Randolph Cancer Center at West Virginia University.
Huggs fought off Kentucky coach John Calipari and will now face BYU coach Dave Rose, Missouri coach Frank Haith and Ohio State coach Thad Matta in the finals.
* Casper Voithofer, who spent one season on the Mountaineer basketball team before later transferring to California (Pa.), was recently inducted into the Mid-Mon Valley Hall of Fame.
And finally, in honor of our great storyteller Truck Bryant, I will leave you with one of my favorite Choo-Choo Coleman stories. Once during an interview, a reporter asked the former New York Mets catcher what his wife’s name was and what she's like. Coleman answered, “Her name is Mrs. Coleman and she likes me!”
Have a great week!