Thursday Notebook


Posted by John Antonik on Thursday, February 18, 2010
(2:44 p.m.)

 
  Bob Huggins

West Virginia is playing college basketball’s toughest schedule, according to College RPI.com. The online RPI service has West Virginia sixth in its most recent rankings following Wednesday night’s win at Providence.

Nineteen of West Virginia’s 25 games this year have come against teams with winning records. In fact, the combined winning percentage of West Virginia’s 25 opponents so far is a hefty .635.

I went back to compare other WVU schedules dating back to 1940 and as of today, this year’s slate is the toughest in school history. Based on the combined winning percentage of West Virginia’s opponents, here are the five toughest schedules the Mountaineers have faced since 1940:

1983, .595, Gale Catlett
2009, .594, Bob Huggins
2006, .588, John Beilein
1974, .581, Sonny Moran
1971, .579, Sonny Moran

If you recall, Gale Catlett’s 1983 team faced national champion NC State in the Meadowlands, beat No. 1 UNLV at the Coliseum and also played NCAA tournament participants Ohio State, Georgia Southern, VCU and Rutgers. West Virginia played 17 games that season against teams with winning records.

Interestingly, Sonny Moran is the only coach in school history to have coached five or more seasons and compile a losing career record. He also faced some of the toughest schedules in school history, the combined winning percentage of the opponents he faced an impressive .557.

You may remember that West Virginia had just left the Southern Conference and began playing more of a national schedule when Moran was coaching the Mountaineers.

For the sake of balance, here are the five softest schedules West Virginia has faced since 1940. Again, this is based on combined winning percentage of its opponents (only games against major schools were counted):

1953, .452, Red Brown
1967, .453, Bucky Waters
1957, .455, Fred Schaus
1952, .457, Red Brown
1989, .464, Gale Catlett

  • Keeping on this theme, here is one guy’s personal picks of the five best teams West Virginia has faced since 1940:

    1. UCLA, 1969 (29-1)
    2. Louisville, 1980 (33-3)
    3. Connecticut, 1999 (34-2)
    4. CCNY, 1950 (24-5)
    5. Connecticut, 2004 (33-6)

    All five won national championships with CCNY also capturing the NIT title the same year. Including those five, the Mountaineers also played eventual national champions Kentucky (1958), Cal (1959), NC State (1983) an Syracuse (2003).

  • Since 2003, West Virginia has faced 11 men's basketball teams that have won 30 or more games in a season.

  • The West Virginia University Department of Intercollegiate Athletics is currently seeking donation of historical artifacts for potential use in the WVU Basketball Practice Facility Hall of Fame. WVU basketball artifacts requested are uniforms, personal effects, etc., dating prior to 1980. Game photography is also requested dating prior to 1970.

    Game programs are not needed.

    Please contact April Messerly, Director of Athletic Facilities and Operations, at 304.293.3056 or by email april.messerly@mail.wvu.edu for more information.

  • Third-year WVU coach Bob Huggins picked up his 13th Big East road win at Providence last night. John Beilein had 12 Big East road wins in five years with the Mountaineers, while Gale Catlett had 17 Big East road wins in seven seasons.

  • There are two big games in the Big East tonight that will impact the league standings. Syracuse plays at Georgetown at 7 p.m. and Pitt plays at Marquette at 9 p.m. Both games will be televised on ESPN2.

    All four teams are in contention for one of the four byes for this year’s Big East tournament at Madison Square Garden in New York City.

    Syracuse is tied with Villanova at the top of the league standings at 11-2. Pitt is ½-game out of third place behind 9-4 West Virginia with an 8-4 league record. Georgetown is fifth at 8-5 while Marquette is seventh at 7-5.

    Just seven of the 16 teams in the league presently have winning records inside of conference play causing Cincinnati coach Mick Cronin to tell ESPN's Andy Katz earlier this week that the Big East is taking certain NCAA teams and turning them into bubble teams.

    He's probably right.

     
      Devin Ebanks

  • Don’t look now, but here comes Devin Ebanks. The sophomore scored 21 points and grabbed seven rebounds last night against Providence. In his last four games he’s averaging 15.8 points and 8.3 rebounds per game.

    Wasn’t it around this time Ebanks got hot last year?

  • Bob Huggins has mentioned on more than one occasion his belief that college basketball games are being officiated in a manner today that is forcing teams to become more guard-oriented. He has said it is making him rethink his recruiting philosophy for the future.

    A quick check of the Big East statistics shows guard-dominated Villanova and Connecticut leading the conference in free throws attempted with 669 and 663 respectively.

    The Mountaineers are ninth in free throws attempted with 543.

  • Seton Hall guard Jeremy Hazell left last night’s game against St. John’s with eight minutes to go with an with a deep cut between the ring and middle finger on his right hand that required eight stitches. He did not return.

    If you recall, it was Hazell who nearly beat West Virginia with a career-high 41 points in the Mountaineers’ 90-84 overtime victory at Seton Hall earlier this year. Hazell scored 29 in last year’s game against West Virginia.

  • Harrisburg Patriot blogger David Jones wrote some kind words about West Virginia’s student pep band: http://blog.pennlive.com/davidjones/2010/02/wvus_band_puts_pop_in_pep_at_h.html

  • Pitt has parted ways with troubled safety Elijah Fields, Panthers coach Dave Wannstedt announced Wednesday. Fields, who had 33 tackles and three interceptions this year, was a one-time recruiting target of West Virginia under the previous coaching regime.

  • ESPN blogger Brian Bennett recently listed the eight presumed starting quarterbacks in the Big East for 2010. Rutgers’ Tom Savage has the most experience with 11 career starts followed by USF’s B.J. Daniels with 10. The eight QBs Bennett listed have a combined 41 career starts, which means it could be another wild and woolly year in the Big East next fall.

  • NFL columnist Howard Balzer reported earlier this week that former Mountaineer quarterback Marc Bulger has cleared out his locker and is expected to be released by the St. Louis Rams.

    According to Pro Football Reference.com, Bulger ranks 72nd in NFL history with 22,814 career passing yards in eight seasons with the Rams. Injuries have led to declining numbers in 2007, 2008 and 2009 for Bulger after he threw for a career-best 4,301 yards and 24 touchdowns in 2006.

    The two-time Pro Bowler has a 40-47 record as a starter for the Rams.

     
      Lonnie Galloway

  • West Virginia has two of the best football recruiters in the country in Lonnie Galloway and Chris Beatty. Galloway was recognized recently by ESPN.com for his recruiting efforts while Beatty was cited by Rivals.com.

    Rivals rated the Mountaineers recent signing class 19th in the country.

  • Hall of fame women’s coach Vivian Stringer made an interesting comment after her team’s 55-51 loss to West Virginia earlier this week. In her words “guards are the gatekeepers to championships.”

    I couldn’t agree with her more.

  • Women’s basketball's RPI was ninth before last Tuesday’s game against Rutgers with a schedule strength of 40. West Virginia’s remaining regular season games are against No. 81 USF, No. 94 Cincinnati, No. 46 Marquette and No. 98 Syracuse.

  • West Virginia’s game this Saturday at South Florida was originally slated to be televised by Brighthouse but that is no longer the case, according to women’s basketball SID Phil Caskey.

    The 4:30 p.m. game will be on MSN radio.

  • ESPN.com is reporting that Joe Alexander and Hakim Warrick will be traded to the Chicago Bulls for John Salmons. Alexander was averaging 10.5 points and 4.7 rebounds per game for the Fort Wayne Mad Ants of the NBA Developmental League.

  • Baseball America recently profiled West Virginia’s Jedd Gyorko in its online edition: http://www.baseballamerica.com/today/college/season-preview/2010/269472.html

    The publication lists Gyorko as a preseason third team All-American and has him going 18th in its early mock baseball draft.

    Gyorko and his WVU teammates are going to get an early gauge of where they are at by facing 12th-ranked Coastal Carolina to open the regular season Friday afternoon in Myrtle Beach, S.C.

    That should keep you warm as you try digging out of the latest snowstorm.

    Enjoy your weekend!




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