By John Antonik for WVUsports.com
January 16, 2012 11:03 AM
|1998 Big East defensive player of the year Damian Owens returned to campus for last Saturday's men's basketball reunion weekend.
|All-Pro Photography/Dale Sparks photo
We had great visits with many of the former Mountaineer basketball players who returned to campus for last Saturday’s Varsity Club men's basketball reunion weekend. Among the guys I had a chance to talk to, I would have to say Darryl Prue, Dale Blaney and Damian Owens were the three who looked like they could still suit up for the Mountaineers.
By the way, the Varsity Club is planning a reunion for the 1992 women’s basketball Sweet 16 team later this month. Varsity Club Director Dale Wolfley and his staff do a great job putting these events on.
- Both games for this year’s two-day Chesapeake Energy Capital Classic in Charleston should be very interesting to watch. Tomorrow night’s women’s game will feature a 12-5 West Virginia team facing a 12-4 Marshall club that is currently third in Conference USA with a 3-1 league record.
For the men’s game on Wednesday night, 13-5 West Virginia is battling a 13-4 Marshall squad currently sitting atop the C-USA standings with a 4-0 record.
According to RealTimeRPI.com’s Sunday evening rankings, West Virginia has an RPI of 15 while Marshall’s is 33. On the women’s side, West Virginia is ranked 81st while Marshall is 174th.
The men’s game on Wednesday night can be seen on the Capital Classic Network and will air live on ESPN3, while the women’s game on Tuesday night will be televised statewide on WVPBS and will also be carried on the Internet through CBS College Sports.
Tickets are still available for Tuesday night’s women’s game and can be purchased by calling the Charleston Civic Center Box Office at (304) 345-1500.
Wednesday night’s men’s game is already a sellout.
- West Virginia will be trying to avoid back-to-back losses to Marshall for only the third time in series history this Wednesday night. Last year, the Herd downed the Mountaineers 75-71 in Charleston. Marshall’s consecutive wins over West Virginia came in 1980-81 under Bob Zuffelato and in 2005-06 under Ron Jirsa.
- The last time West Virginia and Marshall both made the NCAA tournament was during the 1987 season when the Mountaineers lost in the first round to Western Kentucky in the East Regional and the Herd, also in the East, dropped their first round game to 19th-ranked TCU, although Marshall’s tournament participation was later vacated. Had the two teams continued on that year they would have met in the Sweet 16 in East Rutherford, N.J.
I only mention this because both teams have a shot of making the NCAA tournament this year.
- Did you realize that there have been 18 different Mountaineer players average better than 20 points per game for a season, but only one has done it since 1983 when guard Drew Schifino averaged 20.1 points per game in 2003? Forward Kevin Jones could be the second to do it, the senior now averaging 20.1 points per game heading into Wednesday night’s game against Marshall.
Fifteen of West Virginia’s 18 20 points-per-game scorers occurred before 1970, the exceptions being guard Greg Jones in 1983 when he averaged 22.3 points per game and guard Lowes Moore in 1978 when he averaged 21.3 points per game.
Here are West Virginia’s 20 points-per-game scorers by coach:
Red Brown – Mark Workman (2)
Fred Schaus – Hot Rod Hundley (3), Jerry West (2)
George King – Rod Thorn (2)
Bucky Waters – Fritz Williams (2), Carl Head
Sonny Moran – Wil Robinson (3)
Joedy Gardner – Lowes Moore
Gale Catlett – Greg Jones
John Beilein – Drew Schifino
- CBS’s Seth Davis revealed his Top 25 ballot for this week’s AP poll on his twitter feed last night and he has West Virginia ranked 20th. The Mountaineers had 33 votes in last week’s AP poll and nine votes in last week’s ESPN/USA Today coaches’ poll.
- Here were the top five teams in this year’s Big East preseason men’s basketball media poll …
And now, here are the top teams in the Big East standings as of Jan. 15 …
1. Syracuse (6-0)
2. Cincinnati (4-1)
3. Seton Hall (4-2)
3. Connecticut (4-2)
3. Georgetown (4-2)
3. West Virginia (4-2)
Perennial Big East stalwarts Pitt, Villanova and Louisville are a combined 3-13 so far this year with Pitt and Villanova bringing up the bottom of the league. Pitt’s 10 straight NCAA tournament appearances dating back to 2002 is in jeopardy, while Villanova has made seven straight NCAA trips dating back to 2005. It will be interesting to see if the Panthers and Wildcats can rally.
- If Syracuse can remain No. 1 in the polls when the Orange plays West Virginia at the Carrier Dome on Jan. 28, it will be the 10th time the Mountaineers have faced the nation’s top-ranked basketball team.
Here are West Virginia’s prior meetings against No. 1:
2/16/06, Connecticut, 81-75 loss
1/9/99, Connecticut, 80-45 loss
1/27/95, Massachusetts, 97-94 loss
2/28/88, at Temple, 78-69 loss
2/23/88, Temple, 62-61 loss
2/27/83, UNLV, 87-78 win
12/21/68, at UCLA, 95-56 loss
2/7/66, vs. Duke, 94-90 win
12/21/57, vs. North Carolina, 75-64 win
- Of course any recruiting class that had Jerry West in it would be considered the best in school history, but think about the recruiting job Bob Huggins and his coaching staff did four years ago when they landed Kevin Jones, Truck Bryant and Devin Ebanks in the same class – all from the metropolitan New York area.
Last Saturday against Rutgers, KJ just moved into 15th place on West Virginia’s career scoring list and now shows 1,527 points while Bryant just made his way into the top 20 with his 1,352nd career point. Meanwhile, Ebanks was a starter on the Final Four team and is now a backup forward for the Los Angeles Lakers.
You can only wonder how good this team would have been had Ebanks stuck around for four years to learn the game from Huggins, a master at developing great players.
- After West Virginia’s stunning 70-33 victory over Clemson in the 2012 Discover Orange Bowl it’s now time to update the greatest bowl victories in school history. Here is one man’s opinion:
1. 2006 Sugar Bowl – WVU’s first step on the major stage with its nail-biting win over Georgia
2. 2012 Orange Bowl – sheer dominance over ACC champion Clemson
3. 2008 Fiesta Bowl – WVU overcomes impossible circumstances to defeat Oklahoma
4. 1981 Peach Bowl – stunning result over heavily favored Florida launches Nehlen era
5. 2007 Gator Bowl – great comeback win over ACC champion Georgia Tech
5a. 1969 Peach Bowl – Big win over ACC champ South Carolina leads to first 10 win season since ‘22
5b. 1975 Peach Bowl – Surprising upset win for Bobby Bowden over his longtime nemesis Lou Holtz
5c. 1937 Sun Bowl – Big win over a decent Texas Tech team
- West Virginia’s Geno Smith and Oklahoma’s Landry Jones are college football’s top two returning passers heading into the 2012 season, and both players’ passing numbers were very similar in 2011. Smith completed 346 of 526 passes for 4,385 yards and 31 touchdowns with seven interceptions while Jones’ final passing figures showed 355 completions in 562 attempts for 4,463 yards and 29 touchdowns with 15 interceptions.
Speaking of Geno, he made the recently announced Rivals.com all-bowl team along with Tavon Austin … http://rivals.yahoo.com/ncaa/football/news;_ylt=Akp7y3UGARqebzjqgScEHeEcvrYF?slug=mh-huguenin_college_football_all_bowl_team_011412
. West Virginia was one of six schools to have two players on the Rivals all-bowl team.
- With Dustin Garrison recovering from off-season knee surgery, West Virginia will only have two running backs (Andrew Buie and Shawne Alston) with any game experience available for spring practice. The extra reps will certainly be beneficial for sophomore-to-be Buie, who ran for 45 yards and caught four passes for 32 yards in the Orange Bowl victory over Clemson.
- Julian Miller is one of three Mountaineer defensive players invited to the East-West Shrine Game to be played this Saturday at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. Since the Orange Bowl, Miller has been working out in Arizona in preparation for all-star games and personal workouts.
As of Sunday evening, no Mountaineer players have been officially invited to this year’s Senior Bowl to be played Jan. 28 in Mobile, Ala. West Virginia has had at least one player invited to the Senior Bowl every year since 2004 (16 total).
- Sometimes it takes an outsider to point out the obvious. The other day I was talking to someone and they mentioned to me the great run West Virginia has had in men’s basketball and football during the last six years.
2006 – Sugar Bowl victory
2008 – Fiesta Bowl victory
2010 – NCAA Final Four
2012 – Orange Bowl victory
I can think of a whole bunch of schools that would die to have just one of these – in fact, one of them sits about 75 miles up the road from us in Pennsylvania.
Every now and again we need to stop, pause, and smell the roses a little bit.
- The Mountaineers this year ranked 30th in total attendance with 395,726 fans watching games at Milan Puskar Stadium. That averages out to 56,532 fans per game, encompassing 94.22 percent of the stadium’s capacity.
That is slightly higher than the 394,274 fans that turned out for last year’s seven-game home schedule. The high for a seven-game home football slate at Milan Puskar Stadium was 411,408 fans in 2006.
West Virginia’s average attendance of 56,532 was ranked 32nd in the nation this season.
- West Virginia finished sixth in the country in passing offense averaging 346.85 yards per game. That marks the ninth time since 2002 the Mountaineers have finished in the top 10 in a national offensive team category.
Here are West Virginia’s Top 10 national offensive rankings since 2002:
2002, Rushing Offense (2nd, 283.6 ypg.)
2004, Rushing Offense (7th, 252.8 ypg.)
2005, Rushing Offense (4th, 272.4 ypg.)
2006, Rushing Offense (2nd, 303 ypg.)
2006, Scoring Offense (3rd, 38.9 ppg.)
2006, Total Offense (4th, 461.4 ypg.)
2007, Rushing Offense (3rd, 297.2 ypg.)
2007, Scoring Offense (9th, 39.6 ppg.)
2011, Passing Offense (6th, 346.9 ypg.)
- For those of you interested, here is a quick look at West Virginia’s offensive improvement from 2010 to 2011 …
- In honor of Martin Luther King Jr. Day, here is a website you can visit to brush up on your Mountaineer sports history … http://sportsintegration.wvu.edu/index.html
. I think it’s appropriate that we remember the contributions of all of our pioneering athletes, especially those who blazed the trail here back in the 1960s playing in the old Southern Conference.
Have a great week!
Follow John Antonik on Twitter: @John Antonik