Posted by John Antonik on Thursday, November 12, 2009
In honor of my good buddy Mickey Furfari, here are some Thursday afternoon tidbits …
I have really enjoyed reading all of the comments from fans recalling their personal experiences at old Mountaineer Field – a lot of really neat stories.
Thanks, too, to Jeff “Soup” Campbell for emailing me on Sunday afternoon reminding me that the 30th anniversary of the old stadium was coming up on Tuesday. Naturally, Sunday evening was like a fire drill trying to track down some of the players who played in that final game.
Some leftovers from the 30th anniversary of Mountaineer Field story …
Although I don’t closely follow recruiting, I do love recruiting stories and former WVU linebacker Mike Dawson told me a great one the other day. Dawson was heavily recruited out of New Martinsville, eventually narrowing his college choices down to Ohio State, Penn State and West Virginia.
The guy recruiting Dawson from West Virginia University was Ed Pastilong – the same Ed Pastilong that has been running the WVU athletic department for the last 20 years.
Pastilong was visiting Dawson’s high school coach Dave Cisar in his office one morning when Woody Hayes made a surprise visit to the school. So while Pastilong was downstairs talking to Dawson’s coach, Hayes was upstairs in the school library visiting with students, signing autographs and talking to the entire football team. When Pastilong went upstairs and saw Hayes, he decided to morph into the crowd.
“I was pretty concerned when Woody showed up,” laughed Pastilong. “To be honest, I was kind of in awe of him, too.”
But Pastilong was able to stick it out and eventually he got his man.
“Eddie did a fantastic job recruiting me,” said Dawson. “He played me exactly the way he needed to play me – ‘We need you. If we’re ever going to turn this program around it’s going to have to start with West Virginia kids.’”
Following Woody’s impromptu high school presentation, he rode with assistant coach Alex Gibbs (also a former Bobby Bowden assistant at WVU) over to Dawson’s house to visit with his family. The legendary coach went straight to the family recliner reserved solely for Dawson’s father.
“Nobody said a word,” Mike chuckled. “Then Woody look at Alex Gibbs and he said, ‘Alex turn that damned TV down! - If that’s OK with you Mrs. Dawson?
“If I would have gone to Ohio State my dad would have died,” he added.
Dawson played parts of three seasons at WVU before knee injuries prematurely ended his career.
“I’m telling you, had Mike not hurt his knee against Penn State, he could have been one of the greats at West Virginia,” said Pastilong. “He was just a phenomenal athlete.”
This might be Mike Carey’s most athletic women’s team at West Virginia. Carey will likely go eight or nine deep this year off the bench and he should be able to extend his defense, really, for the first time in eight years on the job here.
I caught a little of last Sunday’s exhibition game against Glenville State and West Virginia has some playmakers in the open court. It also has some size underneath the basket that will keep Big East teams from constantly pounding the ball inside.
The one big concern will be half court offense when teams choose to pack it in and force the Mountaineers to shoot from the outside. If West Virginia’s guards can hit their shots from the outside, this could be a really fun team to watch in 2009-10.
If one is an accident and two is a trend, what does 10 make? Well that’s the number of consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances the West Virginia University women’s soccer program has made under veteran coach Nikki Izzo-Brown.
Some close to the Mountaineer program believe this might be one of Izzo-Brown’s better coaching jobs. This year, 10 freshmen and sophomores have started at least one match and only five players on this year’s roster have NCAA Tournament experience.
West Virginia also has a streak of nine straight 10-win seasons on the line Friday afternoon when the Mountaineers take on Loyola, Md., in a first-round match at 3 p.m. at Wake Forest.
Izzo-Brown should consider bringing the Washington Generals with her on road trips. This is the fifth straight weekend the globe-trotting Mountaineers have been on the road, and the seventh straight match away from Morgantown.
At least the Marriott points are piling up for the coaches, though, and that will certainly make Sam Huff happy.
Men’s basketball has a real good shot of breaking the average attendance record of 11,384 set in 1982. More than 7,700 season tickets have been sold, and now two mini-ticket packages that include Big East games and Ohio State go on sale Monday.
The Mountaineers have averaged more than 10,000 fans per game in three of the last four years, and in 29 home dates during third-year coach Bob Huggins’ tenure West Virginia has averaged 10,298 fans per game.
I was having a conversation with Doug Huff last week and we were talking about birddogs who used to uncover high school talent in the old days before the Internet. One of the guys Huff mentioned was Tom Konchalski, who was profiled earlier this week in CNNSI.com.
Strange, isn’t it?
Joe Lunardi’s Bracketology has West Virginia as a three-seed in Buffalo facing 14th-seeded Oakland in this year’s NCAA Tournament. On a related note the calendar devised by the ancient Mayans stops in 2012 which, to some, means bad things for all of us (NASA even released a statement concerning this).
But I’m sticking with Joe the Prophet on his NCAA picks mainly because I like them.
Bob Hertzel is on a hot streak right now. He had another great column, this one on West Virginia freshman forward Danny Jennings, in today’s Times-West Virginian.
A really good read.
We’ve got a busy Friday with women’s soccer at 3 p.m., women’s basketball at 6 and the football game at 8, but we’ll somehow have it all covered.
Have a great weekend!