By John Antonik for WVUsports.com
December 14, 2011 02:08 PM
|The original scoreboard from the Field House will be displayed in the Robinson/Petroplus Hall of Traditions at the new basketball practice facility.
Some more pictures of the men’s and women’s basketball practice facility are now available on the official men’s and women’s basketball Facebook pages.
You can access the men’s Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/wvumensbasketball
and the women’s Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/wvuwomensbasketball
And while looking at the new Hall of Traditions photos, be sure to click the “Like” buttons to have updated men’s and women’s basketball news delivered right to your Facebook wall.
By the way, I have been informed that artifacts for the Hall of Traditions will be going into the displays on Thursday so we will try and get some more pictures for you at the end of the week.
... And now, a smorgasbord of notes to get you to this weekend’s men’s and women’s basketball games ...
* Looking back on this year’s performance, veteran defensive coordinator Jeff Casteel thought his group wasn’t consistent enough at times, but they were still able to fight through those inconsistencies and make big plays at key moments in games this season.
“I think our tackling leaves a lot to be desired at times, and I think that’s what gets us in trouble,” said Casteel. “A lot of times we have opportunities to make some plays and didn’t do it. But what we did like is the way these guys compete, the way they hang in there, and the way they made plays at critical times to change games and to win games.”
Two critical defensive plays that come to mind were Eain Smith’s game-preserving interception to stop Maryland’s comeback attempt early in the season, and then later, Najee Goode’s strip of B.J. Daniels that led to West Virginia’s game winning field goal at South Florida.
“Sometimes it’s not always as pretty as you’d like but you have to have a lot of respect for the guys who can hang in there in tough times,” said Casteel. “It’s easy to play well when you’re just knocking the dog out of everybody, but when you’re taking some punches and to get back up and land some blows yourself is a credit to those guys and I think that’s what they have been able to do throughout the year.”
* The big issue for teams preparing for bowl games is the time off after the end of the regular season. The team that can minimize mistakes - and the defense that can tackle the best – is the one that usually wins the game.
“You lose a little bit of your rhythm,” explained Casteel. “Everybody is built on trying to get ready each week and you wait about a month to play this one, so that’s critical. The things you have to do to win (bowl games) is to get people on the ground and what it comes down to not doing that is fundamentals – your eyes aren’t in the right spot, your feet aren’t in the right spot and those types of things. We have to point those things out and just get better at it.”
Mountaineer great Major Harris once told me he believes bowl games are really crap shoots.
“I always feel with the long layoff you really don’t know what type of team is going to show up,” Harris said. “You’ve got guys who are seniors thinking about turning pro. You have guys who are underclassmen and you never know, maybe the coach wants to put in the underclassmen a little more.
“Sometimes the chemistry might not be right because of the simple fact that it’s a bowl game and you took a month off,” Harris added. “You look at some teams … they might have coaching changes, so sometimes a bowl game can be misleading, to be honest.”
Don Nehlen recalled having to scramble to get his team prepared for the 1989 Gator and the 1994 Sugar bowls because of terrible weather.
“(Then-assistant athletic director) Mike Parsons went and got 25 yards of Astroturf and we put it down in the Shell Building and tried to practice on it (before the 1989 Gator Bowl),” Nehlen said. “In ’93, we had 10 yards to practice in the weight room. We moved weights and we had 10 yards. The field was covered with ice and we couldn’t get it off.
“That’s when I really went to work on getting the indoor facility.”
* West Virginia coaches Bob Huggins and Mike Carey are both within a couple of victories of achieving milestone wins. Huggs is sitting on 697 wins heading into this Saturday’s game at the Coliseum against Texas A&M-Corpus Christi as part of the Las Vegas Classic, while Carey shows 498 career victories leading into Saturday afternoon’s road game at Duquesne.
Carey has 210 wins at WVU while Huggins now shows 107 victories.
* West Virginia’s Kevin Jones ranks 22nd in the country in scoring this week averaging 20.1 points per game. That figure ranks second in the Big East to Seton Hall’s Herb Pope, who is averaging 21.9 points per game.
This week, KJ is also eighth in rebounding (11.4 rpg.) and 11th in double-doubles (five).
* There have been six triple-double games in men’s play so far this year, and four of those six have come from players standing 6-feet-1 or shorter – Duquesne’s T.J. McConnell, Chattanooga’s Keegan Bell, UConn’s Shabazz Napier and Ohio’s D.J. Cooper.
Here is another oddball stat, this one concerning football: West Virginia and Georgia Tech finished the regular season with exactly the same amount of total points (419) and total yards (5,515).
The good folks at Clemson pointed that one out to us.
* Once again, Mike Carey has one of the best defensive teams in the country. Through nine games the Mountaineers are allowing their opponents to score an average of just 47.3 points per game, which ranks third in the country behind Connecticut and South Carolina this week.
Eight of West Virginia’s nine opponents this year have failed to score 60 points in a game, and the one that did, Syracuse, lost 76-72 to the Mountaineers on Dec. 7.
* In Andy Katz’s most recent Three-Point Shot
on ESPN.com, he mentions the possibility of West Virginia and Kansas State facing each other three times during the regular season next year.
Kansas State is supposed to make a return trip to Charleston next year after the two faced each other in Wichita, Kan., last Thursday night.
The last time the Mountaineers faced the same opponent three times in the same season was 2009 against Pitt, but one of those Backyard Brawl meetings took place at Madison Square Garden in New York City.
* For you graybeards out there, the Cincinnati-Xavier brawl last Saturday afternoon might have brought back memories of a West Virginia-Syracuse fight that took place at the Field House in 1970.
This humdinger got started when Syracuse center Bill Smith slugged a referee after being whistled for his fifth foul, triggering a bench-clearing brawl that also saw fans pour out of the stands onto the floor. The game was stopped with 1:01 still showing on the clock and West Virginia leading 94-84.
State police had to escort Syracuse out of the arena, and instead of returning to the Holiday Inn where the team had been staying, it was decided that they should continue on to Pittsburgh to stay somewhere near the airport before catching a flight back to Syracuse the next morning.
“(Syracuse coach) Roy Danforth apologized over and over for that,” former West Virginia coach Sonny Moran recalled. “We were good friends and we remained good friends. He was so embarrassed that his kid would do that.”
There is an account of that WVU-Syracuse game in the book Roll Out of the Carpet: 101 Seasons of West Virginia University Basketball
, available in bookstores everywhere.
* Earlier this week, we posted a story detailing the depth problems
first-year offensive line coach Bill Bedenbaugh has been dealing with this year.
Bedenbaugh says he would like to have as many as 18 offensive linemen in his group to work with, but because of injuries and attrition, that number has dwindled to 14 this season with just six-to-seven of those guys really “game ready.”
Getting quality linemen to come to West Virginia has been an issue dating all the way back to the late 1960s when Jim Carlen chose to use the veer offense to compensate for the lack of big, physical linemen comparable to what rivals Penn State, Syracuse and Pitt were using.
Coaches Bobby Bowden and Frank Cignetti continued to use the veer because it was easier to teach their smaller linemen to block low and use angles than it was to get bigger guys.
Nehlen changed that philosophy in 1980 because of his devotion to a year-round strength program and his willingness to redshirt entire freshman classes. Nehlen was afforded that luxury because the school made a long-term commitment to him.
What eventually came of that was the terrific 1988 offensive line comprised of five fifth-year seniors John Stroia, Kevin Koken, Rick Phillips, Bob Kovach and Brian Smider that helped West Virginia to the national championship game. Of the five, only Smider was a highly coveted recruit.
* Congratulations to Tavon Austin for being named third-team AP All-American as an all-purpose player. Austin set the school single-season record for all-purpose yardage this season with 2,294 heading into the bowl game against Clemson.
By the way, Clemson got two players on the AP All-America first team in freshman wide receiver Sammy Watkins and tight end Dwayne Allen.
* Did you realize that West Virginia coach Dana Holgorsen is one of only seven first-year coaches to lead his team to a BCS bowl game since 1998? The others are Larry Coker (Miami), Chip Kelly (Oregon), Ralph Friedgen (Maryland), Charlie Weis (Notre Dame), Chris Peterson (Boise State) and David Shaw (Stanford).
That’s a great note researched by the WVU Sports Communications staff.
And here’s another good one from our outstanding SID staff … West Virginia’s appearance in the 2012 Discover Orange Bowl marks the seventh New Year’s Day bowl appearance for the Mountaineers in the last nine years. Only three other programs can make that claim: Florida, Ohio State and LSU.
That’s some pretty tall grass for our Mountaineers!
Enjoy your week!
Follow John Antonik on Twitter: @John Antonik