Tuesday, May 30, 2023

Pack the WVU Coliseum

Morgantown, West Virginia - When the Mountaineers open their Big 12 Conference schedule tonight against the Iowa State Cyclones, they should be playing in front of thousands of fans decked out in gold and blue. Instead, West Virginia players' sneakers squeaking and Bob Huggins yelling at referees will be the only things heard within the Coliseum tonight. On December 1st, West Virginia University decided that there would be no spectators in the Coliseum for the entire month of December.  In a statement released by the university, West Virginia Director of Athletics Shane Lyons said the following: "To say that we are disappointed is quite an understatement, but the decision not to allow spectators in December is the correct one at this time for the safety of our fans, staff and student-athletes. The COVID-19 pandemic keeps presenting many challenges, but like I have said in the past, we need to continue being aggressive in taking appropriate safety precautions of wearing masks and getting tested so that we can end this pandemic." The West Virginia Mountaineers - currently 6-1 and ranked #8 in the nation - are one of the most exciting, promising teams that Bob Huggins has had in years, and his frustrating at not allowing fans to watch his team in person is obvious. "We have 14,000 seats in the Coliseum. It’s beautiful.  New scoreboard…the same scoreboard that you have in Madison Square Garden and this place doesn’t look 50 years old anymore.  It looks new and vibrant.  It’s missing one thing.  It’s missing people in the seats.  There are 14,000 seats, and we can’t put 3,000 in here and spread them out?” Huggins has a point.  The Coliseum is a massive arena and 3,000 people can easily socially distance safely while watching the games.  While it would take an organized effort to accomplish it, it’s certainly something that could be done without risking the health of anyone in attendance.College sports are not the same without fans and a home court advantage is non-existent without the support of the home crowd. According to Huggins, it really does affect the players as well.  “This is such a sterile atmosphere.  It’s not what they (players) signed up for, to be honest with you.  It’s not what they signed up for.  I don’t get it.  I don’t get it because it’s about the guys that are playing.” Perhaps Huggins’ pleas to allow fans will convince the university to change their stance in the near future.  West Virginia's opponent tonight - a poor 1-3 Iowa State team - should not present any real challenge, with or without fans, but the Mountaineers will need fans in the stands when they play tough Big 12 opponents like Kansas, Baylor and Texas Tech. If the Coliseum can't be packed, at least allow 3-5,000 fans to spread out and enjoy at home game in person.  Although the Coliseum wouldn't be electric like it typically is, the environment would certainly be better and West Virginia's odds of beating tough opponents would increase greatly.

Former Mountaineer Says He’ll Forever Be In Debt to Bob Huggins

Morgantown, West Virginia - Former West Virginia shooting guard Sean McNeil transferred to finish his college career at Ohio State this past season, but his time in Morgantown will always be one of the most important, special moments in his life. "During my year at Ohio State, I've built relationships that I'll carry on with me for the rest of my life," McNeil said prior to the Buckeyes' Senior Day game. "But those three years at West Virginia will hit home a little more than my one year here." McNeil, who is averaging 9.6 points per game at Ohio State, said that he still cheers on the Mountaineers and hopes they do well in the NCAA Tournament this season. McNeil believes that Bob Huggins took a chance on him when seemingly no one else would, and he owes Huggins for where he is at today. "For him to take a chance on me and give me that opportunity is something I'll never be able to repay him for," McNeil said. "I'll forever be in his debt." McNeil continued: "I can't say enough good things about him," McNeil said. "He's everything you can imagine on the floor, but off the floor, he's an even better dude. Legendary coach, legendary guy. He's just someone you want to be around as much as possible. I love Huggs to death." Ohio State is 12-17 this season and although it's an unfortunate way to end his college career, McNeil is the 4th leading scorer for the Buckeyes and is averaging 28.9 minutes per game and is shooting 35.3% from three point range. After the basketball season, McNeil said that he can't wait to reconnect with Huggins. "I'm super excited that he's a part of my life, a mentor," McNeil said. "I can't wait to go back hopefully this summer and see him and catch up a little bit."

Mind-Blowing West Virginia Basketball Video

The West Virginia Mountaineers, ranked #12 in the nation, are 16-3 overall and 4-2 in Big 12 Conference play, and are in position to compete for a National Championship THIS YEAR. Student Josh Messe created another amazing hype video for the team that will blow your mind!  Check it out below: https://youtu.be/id29aXq60hU      

Bob Huggins to the Hall of Fame is Finally Happening

Morgantown, West Virginia - During every West Virginia basketball game, commentators express shock and dismay with the fact that Bob Huggins has not been inducted into the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame. Huggins, who currently has 914 career wins, is once again an eligible candidate for this year's Hall of Fame class and is now a finalist! https://twitter.com/wvuhoops/status/1494805127743557641?s=21 Although Huggins has been nominated several times previously, and many feel that he should have already been inducted, this really feels like the year that it will actually happen. In 40 years of coaching, Huggins has built an incredible coaching resume, but there are a couple of things that could be preventing him from being inducted into the Hall of Fame. #1 - Huggins is one of only ten coaches in college basketball history with 800 or more victories, he’s been to 24 NCAA tournaments, has led his teams to nine Sweet Sixteen appearances, four Elite Eights and two Final Fours, but he has never won a national championship, which is ultimately what separates him from Roy Williams, Jim Calhoun, Bob Knight, Jim Boeheim and Coach K. In addition, while he recently passed Adolph Rupp and Dean Smith in total career win, they both have three national championships between them. #2 - Although Huggins has led one of the cleanest basketball programs in the nation, his embarrassing dismissal from Cincinnati following a drunk and driving arrest back in 2005 has been a permanent black eye on his otherwise flawless record as a head coach. This, of course, is unfortunate, but the Hall of Fame expects their candidates to be pillars on and off the court.  With that said, could one bad night 15 years ago really be the determining factor of what he’s done on and off the court during rest of his long and illustrious career? A lack of a national championship and the arrest in 2005 are the only two possible explanations for him not being inducted by now.  However, numbers don’t lie and Bob Huggins has produced wins better than almost anyone in the history of the game. With that said, I fully expect Bob Huggins to be inducted in the Basketball Hall of Fame in the class of 2022, finally putting an end to the legendary coach being overlooked. https://twitter.com/wvuhoops/status/1494808419777355780?s=21

Miles McBride Scores Career High In Win

Morgantown, West Virginia - Former West Virginia Mountaineers point guard Miles "Deuce" McBride was assigned to the Westchester Knicks in the G League from the New York Knicks. McBride took being called down to the G League professionally, saying, "I'm here to learn how to become an NBA point guard and run a team." McBride had a career night, finishing with 39 points, 8 rebounds, 7 assists, 5 steals while shooting 15/26 from the field and 5/9 from three point range in Westchester's comeback win over previously unbeaten Motor City Cruise, 110-105. https://twitter.com/nbagleague/status/1481088666105700354?s=20 Check out McBride's highlights from his big night below: https://twitter.com/KnicksSavage/status/1481111806085107713?s=20

West Virginia University Charging Outrageous Prices for Cardboard Cutouts

Morgantown, West Virginia - When the West Virginia Mountaineers play their home opener tomorrow afternoon against North Texas, some fans will have paid $125 to have a cutout of themselves in attendance for the game. Instead of charging a reasonable rate for a piece of cardboard, West Virginia University decided to make cutouts in the upper level $40, $60 for lower bowl baseline cutouts and a whooping $125 for lower sideline behind scorer's table cutouts. According to the website, "We are all excited that West Virginia basketball is back! Since a lot of fans may not be able to make it to games at the Coliseum this season, we are offering a way to still give our fans a chance to be there in person (well, sort of) and spirit, supporting the Mountaineers!" However, recent photos of the Coliseum reveal that not-surprisingly not many people purchased the overpriced cutouts.  Instead, there is only a smattering of cutouts spread throughout the Coliseum. Why wouldn't West Virginia University offer these cutouts at a more reasonable price so that West Virginians could afford it and so that it wouldn't ridiculous on television?  At its current state, the cutouts look embarrassing and unfortunate. There's simply no way that WVU can rationalize the price of cardboard with a photo on it.  Instead of price gouging the people of our great state, it would have been far better to fill up the Coliseum seats by offering the cutouts at a more reasonable price.

Bob Huggins Can Coach the Mountaineers for Another 5-10 Years

Morgantown, West Virginia - Bob Huggins deserves to remain as the Head Coach of the West Virginia Mountaineers for as long as he wishes.  One of the very best to ever roam the sidelines, Huggins will be given the power to make the decision to retire when he’s ready to step down. A few months ago, I would have guessed that Bob Huggins' career was coming to a sudden end.  Declining health and age, I thought, would have finally caught up to the greatest coach in West Virginia basketball history.  And then...Huggins was recently photographed looking tanned, slim, youthful and rejuvenated!  This Bob Huggins - the one who looks like he spends time listening to old rock 'n roll records while smoking pot in his basement - can coach for another 5-10 years. In two years, following the 2021-2022 season, Huggins’ contract allows him to continue to coach or take a position within the athletics department.  According to a press release by West Virginia University, “Under the agreement, following the 2021-22 season, Huggins will assume a five-year Emeritus status within the WVU Department of Intercollegiate Athletics, which concludes June 30, 2027. He will be involved in public relations and development activities in addition to other duties assigned at that time by the Director of Athletics. Huggins could defer his term of Emeritus status and continue to serve as head coach beyond 2021-22 with a mutual agreement between Huggins and the Director.” Two years from now, Bob Huggins - who turned 67 last week - will be 69 years old.  Although several coaches have coached well into their late sixties, early seventies, Huggins is not in the superior physical condition in takes to continue for much longer. Huggins, who currently sits at 5th all-time in wins with 881, will almost certainly pass 900 wins next season and could potentially pass Roy Williams and Bob Knight.  Only Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski and Syracuse’s Jim Boeheim are likely out of reach for Huggins. Although two more outstanding seasons coaching teams loaded with talent and potential to win a national championship is the perfect way for Huggins to go out, I don't think he's ready to retire.  A cushy position in the athletic department where he can oversee the team and add valuable insight seems like a perfect fit for the aging Huggins, but that position can wait. Bob Huggins, rested, in better health and down approximately 40-50 pounds, can coach the Mountaineers well into his 70s, and what a treat that will be for West Virginia fans.

Magnificent Mountaineers of the Week

This weekly thread is therapy. Focusing on only the positives gives a calming feeling and helps me look at the bright side of things. And that is important nowadays. The evolution of the coaching carousel should make everyone pause and shudder. Historic and wealthy programs have shown their limits – there are none, and that scares me. It scares me, because it shows how much money has power in today’s version of college football: NIL, conference realignment, and now coaching hires. The NCAA has always been influenced by money, but there were certain checks and balances that organically fell into place. Top coaches would build a program and stay there; they knew things weren’t a given, and other programs couldn’t or wouldn’t pony up the cash to buy them out of their comfort zones. Unfortunately now, there will never again be a Paterno, Bowden, Saban, Switzer, or Bryant. Coaches are mercenaries now. However, they can’t take away Mountaineer culture and pride. Our fan base rallies around our teams and players. The Mountaineers ARE the "professional" sports teams in West Virginia. The players who pass through will always be the driving force behind our fans energy, whether positive or negative. Many will leave as superstars, always to be remembered and recognized any time they step foot on campus. There aren't many other universities out there that can say that. And with that, I give you this week’s Magnificent Mountaineers for the week ending November 28th: Daryl Porter Jr., RS Freshman Cornerback (Football) – I gave the seniors this spot last week, so I felt I had to go somewhere else. Of course, it’s hard to overlook Leddie Brown (19 for 156 and a TD) and Josh Chandler-Semedo (8 tackles, 1 TFL, 1 hurry, and 2 interceptions) here, but I want to focus on the future for a little bit. I could also put Tony Mathis Jr. here as well, but as an offensive player, it’s easy to see how good he was on Sunday. And I feel like we don’t talk about Daryl Porter Jr. enough. Porter didn’t play much last year during the COVID shortened season, seeing action in only 6 games. However, with the departures of Dreshun Miller and Tykee Smith, Porter had an opportunity to greatly increase his playing time. He earned a starting spot coming into the season, and he has impressed all season long. In coverage, he has developed into an almost shutdown corner; he’s always in the right spots and has shown the ability to put himself in the right place to break up passes and make things hard for the receiver. He has also been solid as a run defender, especially for someone his size (5’10” 185 pounds). He was rock-steady again against the Jayhawks, notching 5 tackles and 2 pass deflections. Additionally, Porter seemed to always be the defensive back around the ball when a ball hit the dirt, further showing how difficult he makes lives for receivers. After Miller and Smith left, I wondered how long it would be before we brought in another corner that is capable of shadowing the opposition's best target, but with Porter, I’m confident we have that guy on the roster right now. Taz Sherman, Super Senior Guard (Basketball) – I try to avoid putting in the top players in these summaries as I think it is good to show off some names we don’t talk about often. However, Taz Sherman almost singlehandedly helped WVU win a close game against the Eastern Kentucky Colonels on November 26th. WVU trailed for most of the game, struggling to keep up with the Colonels hot hand from 3-point land, but Taz was the answer. He put up a career high 28 points on 53% shooting to go with 4 rebounds, 3 assists and a steal, including 17 of WVUs 42 points in the 2nd half. I think Taz Sherman has the best offensive game WVU has seen in a while; he’s crafty, creative, and knows how to get to his spots. Performances like this are likely to be the new norm for Sherman going forward. The WVU Women’s Volleyball team – Stealing a trend from last week, I’m going to include a whole group here. This recognition less because of an individual performance, and more due to a cumulative performance that is changing the long-term outlook of Women's Volleyball program. The Women’s Volleyball team had a special year this year, starting off 10-0 before ending the season with a 19-9 record, good enough for 3rd in the Big 12. This got them a berth to the NCAA Tournament as an at-large bid, which is the first time in WVU history that the team has made the Tournament. The Mountaineers are led by a trio of seniors: Briana Lynch, Adrian Ell, and Lacey Zerwas. Each of these young women were also named to the Big 12 All-Conference team, with Lynch and Ell making First Team and Zerwas making Second Team. The Mountaineers will face Illinois in the first round of the Tournament on December 3rd with their eyes on a deep tournament run. Make sure to check out Brandon on The Voice of Motown Podcast.  Subscribe and listen below: https://open.spotify.com/show/57Dfw10urlEo8GBstpKrYy?si=10da2ea44d4a42ac

North Carolina Basketball is Looking for an Opponent

Morgantown, West Virginia - The West Virginia Mountaineers do not have another game scheduled until Saturday, February 20th when they travel to play the Texas Longhorns. The North Carolina Tarheels posted on their social media accounts today that they are looking for a game from February 16th-18th. Although the Tarheels, currently 12-7 overall and 7-5 in the ACC, are not the typical North Carolina team, they would be a big-time marquee matchup for a West Virginia team that is also searching for an opponent to play. In addition, this would be a quality win on the road for the Mountaineers and would allow them to continue playing and not be forced to take an entire week off. Head coach Bob Huggins recently said the following about the layoff: "We took one day off from practice and we were terrible.  I can't imagine how we'd play if we took a whole week off.  We want to play and we need to play." Let's make it happen, WVU! https://twitter.com/UNC_Basketball/status/1361344049840599050?s=20

WVU-Oklahoma State each look for first Big 12 win Monday night

West Virginia and Oklahoma State both opened Big 12 play Saturday afternoon and both did so on the road against a ranked opponent. Both also opened with a conference loss. WVU and Oklahoma State face off Monday night in Stillwater, Okla., at 9 p.m. While the Mountaineers (11-2, 0-1 Big 12) were unable to conquer their Allen Fieldhouse demons in a 60-53 slug-fest defeat at No. 3 Kansas on Saturday, Oklahoma State (9-4, 0-1) was getting throttled by No. 22 Texas Tech, 85-50, in Lubbock, Texas. The Cowboys were outscored 49-20 in the second half of their rout by the Red Raiders. Both teams are coming off of subpar offensive performances. West Virginia shot just 32.2 percent from field and only hit 12-of-22 free throws in the Kansas loss. Like Oklahoma State, the Mountaineers struggled in the second half of their conference opening loss. WVU was outscored 36-23 in the second half after taking a six-point lead into halftime against the Jayhawks. The Mountaineers played well defensively in the loss, holding Kansas to nearly 20 points below the Jayhawks season average. But that wasn't enough to overcome WVU's offensive dry spell. The Cowboys didn't play well in any facet of the game against Texas Tech. OSU hit just 28.8 percent of its field goals and only 11-of-18 free throws. Defensively, the Cowboys allowed TTU to hit 54.5 percent of its shots from the field in the blowout. The Cowboys have three players averaging in double figures, led by senior Lindy Waters III, who averages 12.8 points a game. Senior Cameron McGriff leads OSU on the boards, pulling down an average of 6.8 rebounds a game. Sophomore point guard Isaac Likeele leads the Cowboys with 4.8 assists a contest. Oklahoma State swept the season series last year, winning both games 85-77. The Mountaineers are 1-point favorites but ESPN's BPI gives the Cowboys the edge tonight. The game will be broadcast on ESPN2.  

WVU’s Season Opener Set

Earlier today, the WVU Men’s Basketball team officially had their 2020-21 season opener set. https://twitter.com/jeffborzello/status/1316407598845964294?s=21   The Mountaineers will be battling the Texas A&M Aggies in November 25th at 2 p.m. The game will be broadcasted on ESPN. It will be game one in the Bad Boy Mower’s Crossover Classic. Also included in the tournament is Ohio State, Memphis, Creighton, Utah, Dayton, and Wichita State.   The tournament is held in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.

BREAKING: WVU to Play Gonzaga Next Week

https://twitter.com/JonRothstein/status/1331634842426089473?s=20   According to Jon Rothstein of CBS Sports, WVU is expected to play the Gonzaga Bulldogs in the Jimmy V Classic next week. The Mountaineers would be replacing the Tennessee Volunteers, who were dropped due to positive tests within their program, per sources.   Stay tuned to The Voice of Motown for updates.

National Analyst Says Jesse Edwards to WVU a Near Lock

Morgantown, West Virginia - It's a huge weekend in Morgantown with two major players in the transfer portal visiting. Jesse Edwards, a 6'11 center from Syracuse, and Caleb Grill, a 6'3 guard from Iowa State, will both be in town for official visits starting today. Edwards, a five star transfer and one of the top players available in the transfer portal, averaged 14.8 points, 10.3 rebounds and 2.7 blocks per game for the Orangemen last season. Edwards narrowed his list to three schools last night with Gonzaga, Kansas and West Virginia making his top (and final) schools. Edwards added several West Virginia players on his social media account yesterday and based on what we're hearing, him committing to play for the Mountaineers this weekend looks very, very promising. According to Eric Bossi, the National Basketball Director at 247 Sports, Edwards to WVU is a near lock: "Country Roads, Take Me Home...(unless something changes drastically between now and when he hits campus tomorrow). https://twitter.com/voicemorgantown/status/1646699148375126016?s=20 If/when Edwards commits, West Virginia's starting lineup for the 2023-2024 season will be very for formidable, particularly if Caleb Grill commits as well. With both Edwards and Gill, the Mountaineers' starting lineup would look like the following: Kerr Kriisa Caleb Grill Jose Perez Tre Mitchell Jesse Edwards While Bob Huggins has had several talented teams since arriving in Morgantown, this could potentially be his most talented overall team. In addition to a dominant starting lineup, the Mountaineers would have Joe Toussaint, Omar Silverio, Seth Wilson, Kobe Johnson, Josiah Harris, Pat Suemnick, Mohamed Wague and James Okonkwo. This level of size, athleticism and depth would be unprecedented at West Virginia.

Have the Mountaineers Really Improved?

Morgantown, West Virginia - There was incredibly hype surrounding the West Virginia Mountaineers during the offseason - the team was  supposed to be bigger, stronger, more fundamentally sound, and, perhaps most importantly, far better shooters. Head Coach Bob Huggins sang the praises of his guards during preseason practices, saying, "They’re not shooting it good, they’re shooting it really good.  We're going to make shots this season.” Through five games, the Mountaineers are shooting 31.9% from three point range, which is currently 172nd out of 295 eligible teams.  That's not bad, it's terrible and certainly does not represent an improvement from last season. But West Virginia isn't just shooting poorly from long distance, they are struggling from everywhere on the court.  For a team that should be focused on getting the ball to its strong interior players and getting easy inside shots, West Virginia is making only 40.3% of its field goal attempts, which is 227th out of 295 teams. The struggles don't end with the poor shooting, however.  The Mountaineers also haven't done a particularly great job of taking care of the ball either.  Through the first five games, West Virginia's assist-to-turnover ratio 67 assists to 54 turnovers (1.24), good for 86th in college basketball. West Virginia has routinely been in the top five in the nation in overall rebounds and offensive rebounds, but this season, they are currently ranked 12th in offensive rebounds (15.6 per game) and 157th in defensive rebounds (26.4 per game).  The Mountaineers rank 86th in rebounding margin, only out-rebounding their opponents by 5 per game. Offensively, it's difficult to find any area that the Mountaineers have improved since last season.  The issues that West Virginia has had for years under Bob Huggins - making perimeter shots and taking care of the basketball - continues to be a major problem. Defensively, it doesn't get much better for West Virginia.  The team is 166th in the country in opponents' points per game, allowing 71.8 points through the first five games. While the Mountaineers are off to a solid 4-1 start and are currently ranked 11th in the AP poll and 10th in the Coaches Poll, they have not cleaned up the areas of concerns from last season.  In order to be a true national championship contender, West Virginia will need to shoot better, take care of the basketball better, rebound better and play better defense.

Huge NBA Trade Opens Doors for Jevon Carter

The Phoenix Suns have agreed in principle to trade for Oklahoma City Thunder All Star point guard Chris Paul.  In exchange for Paul, the Suns will send Kelly Oubre Jr., Ricky Rubio, Ty Jerome, Jalen Lecque and a 2022 first round draft pick. The trade is particularly meaningful for former West Virginia Mountaineer and current Phoenix Suns' free agent Jevon Carter.  Carter, who averaged 4.9 points, 1.4 assists and 2.0 rebounds in 16.3 minutes per game last season in a reserve role for the Suns, was seen as an expendable player for the Suns with so much depth at the point guard position, but he really showed what he's capable of at the end of last season in the Orlando Bubble. Carter proved that he's not only a defensive stopper and energy guy off the bench, he also stepped up offensively and became a very consistent outside shooter for the Suns.  Carter shot a 42.5% from three point range and 85.2% from the foul line. Today, the Suns traded almost all of their depth at the point guard position by dealing guards Ricky Rubio, Ty Jerome and Jalen Lecque, leaving Jevon Carter as the obvious backup to Chris Paul. Backing up Chris Paul is an ideal situation for Jevon Carter at this stage in his career.  Not only can he learn a lot from the veteran Paul, Carter will also get plenty of playing time off the bench in relief of the aging Chris Paul. This trade not only felt like a move to add one of the best point guards in the world in Chris Paul, it was also a commitment to Jevon Carter as a role player off the bench for the Suns.  While it appeared that Carter might be the odd man out with so much depth at his position on the Suns, it now appears likely that he will re-sign with the Suns and backup one of the best point guards in the NBA now.