Some WVU News, Notes and Anecdotes
Talk about doing a complete 180.
West Virginia’s Juwan Staten is averaging almost 11 points and three rebounds per game more than last year’s averages of 7.6 points and 2.9 boards.
Heading into Saturday’s Kansas game, the junior is first in the Big 12 assists (5.96 apg.), first in assist-to-turnover ratio (2.85), first in minutes played (37.39 mpg.), second in scoring (18.1 ppg.), third in field goal percentage (51.4 percent), tied for third in steals (1.35 spg.), eighth in defensive rebounding (5.09 rpg.), 13th in free throw percentage (72.6 percent) and 17th in rebounding (6.0 rpg.).
Those numbers are clearly first team all-conference worthy, if not player of the year worthy. I’m not sure there is a more valuable player to his team in the Big 12 right now than what Juwan Staten is to West Virginia.
While scanning Staten’s stat line, I noticed that he has a great shot of surpassing 500 points, 150 assists and 150 rebounds this year. Right now the Dayton, Ohio resident shows 416 points, 138 rebounds and 137 assists with eight regular season games remaining before the Phillips 66 Big 12 tournament begins on March 12.
So I asked our resident stat guru, Mark DeVault, to run the numbers and come up with all of the instances in WVU history when a player has scored more than 500 points, pulled down more than 150 rebounds and handed out more than 150 assists.
Well, DeVault’s computer is still searching because it’s never happened.
The guy closest to doing it was All-American guard Ron “Fritz” Williams, who scored 552 points, handed out 153 assists and pulled down 149 rebounds in 1966.
Jerry West easily surpassed 500 points and 150 rebounds, but the most assists the Logo ever dished out in a season were the 134 he had as a senior in 1960. Same thing with All-America guard Rod Thorn, who comfortably surpassed 500 points and 150 rebounds, but had only 121 assists as a senior in 1963.
Hot Rod Hundley?
Uh, no - not unless he could pass the ball to himself.
West Virginia will be taking a modest three-game winning streak into Lawrence, Kan., on Saturday to face the eighth-rated Jayhawks. Then comes 16th-ranked Iowa State at the Coliseum on Monday night. After that it’s out to Austin to face 15th-ranked Texas on Feb. 15, followed by games against Baylor, Iowa State, TCU, Oklahoma and Kansas once again.
When West Virginia left the artist formerly known as the Big East, some wondered if the Mountaineers might be taking a step down in competition. Well, those concerns have certainly been allayed.
Speaking of West Virginia’s three most recent victories against Baylor, Kansas State and Oklahoma – three RPI Top 60 teams, by the way – in all three the Mountaineers have been out-shot by their opponents. And in two of the three, West Virginia has either been outrebounded for the game or outscored in the second half.
The one constant, however, is Bob Huggins sitting on the bench calling out the plays and the defenses, and that is usually good enough.
A couple of weeks ago, when West Virginia was 11-9 and coming off three straight losses to Oklahoma State, Texas and Kansas State, no one in their right mind thought the Mountaineers had a chance of getting into the NCAA tournament bubble discussion. But a quick click to Joe Lunardi’s Bracketology page on ESPN.com this week shows West Virginia as one of his “next four out” on the tournament bubble list.
The Mountaineers don’t have a single non-conference win against a Top 100 opponent, but the sheer strength of the Big 12 has them in the discussion, and if West Virginia can hold its own down the stretch, it will remain in the discussion.
The 17th-ranked West Virginia women are cruising along at 19-3 overall and 8-2 in the Big 12, one game behind league leading Baylor at 9-1.
West Virginia has games coming up against 9-12 Kansas State on Saturday at the Coliseum, at 14-9 Oklahoma on Feb. 13, at home against 13-9 TCU on Feb. 16, at home against 19-3 Oklahoma State on Feb. 19, on the road at K-State on Feb. 22, and then a home date against 6-16 Texas Tech on Feb. 26 before its rematch at Baylor on March 2.
West Virginia has four players averaging double digits, including sophomore Bria Holmes with a team-best 13.6 points per game average. Senior Asya Bussie has also made a big difference in the paint for the Mountaineers this year with averages of 13.5 points, 7.7 rebounds and a team-best 49 blocks.
Some observers believe this might be Mike Carey’s strongest team, and it could also be West Virginia’s deepest and most talented ever, even better than the 1992 Mountaineer team that won 26 games and reached the NCAA tournament Sweet 16.
West Virginia coach Dana Holgorsen made an interesting comment during Wednesday’s Signing Day Special (you can watch his remarks here). He talked about the strategy of sticking to West Virginia’s traditional recruiting areas along the East coast instead of expanding into Texas and the Plains states as it once did when the Mountaineers first joined the Big 12.
In the beginning, West Virginia was spending a lot of time in Texas trying to woo Lone Star State prospects to Morgantown.
Well now Holgorsen’s coaching staff boasts strong ties to West Virginia, Western Pa, Ohio, the Capital region, the Carolinas and South Florida – WVU’s traditional sweet spots in recruiting.
“We’re not trying to fill out slots, we’re trying to beat everybody out on the East coast because we’ve got a product to offer on the East coast that nobody else can sell, which is the Big 12,” Holgorsen noted.
Holgorsen will be doing some more tweaking to his defensive staff with the announced departure of defensive coordinator Keith Patterson. Holgorsen’s new defensive strategist will be taking over a unit that ranked near the bottom of the conference in nearly every statistical category and managed to produce just 16 sacks a season ago.
The new coordinator will also have to find replacements for Will Clarke and Shaq Rowell up front, but he will have a strong nucleus of returning players at linebacker and the secondary to work with.
Holgorsen mentioned Wednesday that the program’s scholarship numbers are finally back to where they should be, which should also benefit the new defensive coach.
“We have 70 or 71 scholarship guys going through spring practice and I’ve never had that many,” he said. “That’s a high number and then you add another 25 walk-ons to that list and you’ve got 100 guys that you can spring practice with.”
Spring ball this year will be extremely important for a WVU grid team coming off its first losing campaign in 12 seasons.
Berry Tramel’s Travelblog from Oklahoma to Morgantown is a good read, if you haven’t already seen it, and anyone who has ever been involved with team travel certainly has a story or two to tell.
I know I have a few.
I remember once sitting in the Pittsburgh airport waiting for a new plane to come and pick up the football team for a quick flight down to Roanoke, Va., to play at Virginia Tech. That’s because the plane that was supposed to get us lost part of its wing someplace over Kansas and nobody was too keen on flying that one down to Virginia, including the two pilots.
There was another time, after a game against Temple in Philly, when our charter couldn’t get out of New York City to pick us up because the landing gear had collapsed on the plane trying to land on the runway right in front of it. The team had to go back to the hotel and hang out in a big banquet room until another plane could be located.
Before West Virginia’s game against Nebraska in the 1994 Kickoff Classic, a charter company sent two World War II-vintage propeller planes to come pick us up in Morgantown. The first plane with the offensive players was able to beat the bad weather and get into the air, but the second plane was grounded.
Some of us ended up renting cars and making the drive to New York City when we learned our plane wasn’t leaving anytime soon.
Earlier this year, our charter flight back to Clarksburg from Baylor was delayed for several hours when the TSA screeners at the Waco airport went MIA, forcing us to sit on buses until a new crew could be flown down from Dallas. Sleeping on our particular bus were a couple of 140-dB snorers who made catching any shuteye an impossibility for the rest of us.
I remember Mickey Furfari once telling me a story about a mishap on a charter plane the Mountaineers were supposed to take down to Birmingham, Ala., for a midseason college basketball tournament back in the 1950s. Apparently the mechanic had failed to secure one of the propellers on the plane and when the pilot went out to wind it up, it fell off and landed right on the tarmac.
Better on the ground than in the air, the players surely thought.
And finally, I recall once taking a small, private plane down to Blacksburg, Va., for a football game against the Hokies. The morning ride was a smooth one until we reached Virginia, where a thick fog had blanketed the tiny airport next to Lane Stadium.
With no co-pilot on board, one of those in our four-person travel party had to sit in the co-pilot’s seat to balance out the plane. An unsuccessful landing attempt required our young pilot to get out a diagram of the airport to figure out a better approach to the runway.
He asked his new co-pilot if he could hold the airport diagram while he handled the controls.
“Can you see the map, OK?” his new first officer asked.
“Sure, if you can hold it steady,” he replied.
Another try at landing was also unsuccessful, this one resulting in a steep climb after we came in perpendicular to the runway, and that was enough for the pilot to abort the landing and take us on to Roanoke.
Once out of the plane we headed straight to the terminal to hail a cab. The extra time driving into Blacksburg may have put us behind a little bit, but it did keep us from requiring another change of clothing before the game.
Have a great weekend!
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