Posted by Tony Caridi on Wednesday, January 28, 2009
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What have we learned from the deepest conference in the history of college basketball as we prepare to hit the halfway point of the league schedule?
Well, one thing is for sure: experience really matters. Conference-leading Marquette starts four seniors and one junior. Second-place Louisville sports a lineup of one senior, three juniors, and a freshman (Samardo Samuels) who just happens to be last season’s USA Today national high school player of the year. Third-place Connecticut starts three seniors and two juniors, while Pitt starts three seniors, one junior, and sophomore (DeJuan Blair).
You get the point, it’s all about experience. West Virginia’s best-ever finish in Big East Conference play came in 2006 when the Mountaineers finished third with an 11-5 record. WVU started four seniors that year - Kevin Pittsnogle, Joe Herber, J.D. Collins, Mike Gansey - and one junior, Frank Young.
The current Mountaineer starting lineup of one senior, two juniors, and two freshmen isn’t ideal when it comes to the experience meter, but it does bode well for future seasons. Darryl “Truck” Bryant and Devin Ebanks are gaining invaluable experience, not to mention Kevin Jones, who is playing about 17 minutes per game.
The Mountaineers are also building a solid rep for being able to win away from home. WVU currently shares the Big East lead for road wins with Connecticut at six. WVU is 6-2 at home and 6-2 on the road. The Mountaineers are 2-1 in neutral court games. Six Big East teams currently have losing road records.
Former Mountaineer Darris Nichols is hurting. He injured his knee while playing in Hungry and has returned home for surgery. He attended Sunday’s game against Pitt and said he plans to continue his professional career next season.
Several people have asked me for an update on Mike Gansey, who is currently playing in Germany. Sounds like Mike and his boys had a big win over the weekend. I found some information from one of the German papers and here is how it was translated into English via Babel Fish:
“This victory is one of the most beautiful moments in my basketball career”, let to polar bear Mike Gansey its feelings after success against the phantoms free run. Manager January Rathjen spoke of one “milestone”, warned however at the same time to over-evaluate the victory against Braunschweig. Because nothing is still reached. Just like Mike Gansey cost also the remainder of the polar bear team the first home victory in the current season fully out. Beaming with joy the players danced around the bet, enjoyed ovations of ranks and the congratulations of its faithful fans. But so beautiful and important the victory against Braunschweig was also. Time to enjoy success does not remain for the polar bears. Already on coming Sunday it continues with the away game with Playoff candidate Duesseldorf. There the polar bears must absolutely confirm their upward trend.
Gansey is currently averaging six points and three rebounds per game while shooting 55 percent from the field. He’s played in 16 games for Eisbaeren Bremerhaven.
My condolences go out to the family of former WVU star Dale Blaney, whose father Lou died on Sunday. Lou Blaney was a car racing legend in the state of Ohio. Both of his sons Dale and Dave have had successful careers in motorsports. Lou Blaney was 69.