WVU Sports with Mike Casazza

Friday Feedback

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Welcome to the Friday Feedback, which wants to share with you a Christmas story. One time last basketball season, I pulled a Mitch Martin and caught an earlier flight home from a basketball game and didn’t tell my wife. I came home and, much like in Old School, was terrified by what I wound my wife to be doing: She was watching and laughing uproariously to a Madea movie.

I was shook.

Needless to say, I did not join her when she and a friend went to see “A Madea Christmas.” And I was similarly inspired when I found out she’d decorated the Tier 4 studio with the above. It’s so unnerving that I can’t go to work for two weeks, so this is it from me until the WVU v. TCU preview Jan. 3 — and we’re not going to make that joke so many of you want to make right now, OK?

We’ll make it sing around here, though. I’m not leaving the continent this time and I’ll poke around, maybe drop in, possibly do something if the situation calls for it. But, man, two weeks is a long time and the distance makes one sad on the holiday. We’re sort of familial here in that we don’t ever really see one another, we don’t talk in person, we use the computer to communicate, we argue, we have that one relative we can’t stand, but we are who we are and for good or for bad there’s nothing we can do about it.

I propose this: Use the comments to share your holiday stories this year. Photos (you can email them to me), anecdotes, stories, recipes, etc. This way, we’re all sort of together and hanging out, but I can also look at my sister in the thick of some shenanigans, refer to this blog and say “This is not what normal people do…”

Onto the Feedback. As always, comments appear as posted. In other words, aim for the stars.

Mack said:

I looked like a newby. Here was my pregame pointers for my wife, who was new to this game:

– Strongest cheerleader is one of the highlights of the game (didn’t happen)

– Gary Browne is probably the worst shooter on the team (he didn’t miss a shot)

– Eron Harris is the best player on the team (he barely made a shot)

(At least my description of the Marshall fans was spot on. They were making excuses about the refs before the game even started. “We’re going to have to be 20 points better than WVU for the refs to give us a chance.” See guys… no one likes people who claim the refs stole the game from them).

My thoughts on the half court shot: For some reason, WVU’s bench sat out on the floor almost directly underneath the basket (Marshall’s does the same thing). The girl seemed to look up and think “There’s no way I’m making this and there’s a 90% chance I’m going to drill someone from WVU in the face with my errant shot. Screw it, I’m just going to roll the thing toward the basket.” Even if Da’Sean Butler was taking the half court shot, he would’ve been very wary of the WVU entourage being perched so precariously close to the basket.

Difficult to believe you were mistaken, but the Gary Browne Revival is stirring. That’s fooling a lot of people, except Gonzaga. He was a pretty mediocre player last season. He’s a great shooter all of a sudden, he’s not turning it over and lately he’s not fouling. Those were three big weaknesses last season, but things a kid can fix. WVU usually has a nice stretch when Staten and Browne play together. A year ago, you wouldn’t have done that. 

oklahoma mountaineer said: 

Rivalries are definitely established based on proximity — look at how much we looked forward to playing Va Tech and Miami when in the Big East. Those are just stone throws away from Morgantown.

If you use that philosophy, you never will have a Big 12 rivalry….ever.

Let’s face it, there’s nothing to gain for WVU playing this game, but really, is there anything to gain playing lesser opponents in Nov-Dec except wins and home court crowd/concession money.

I don’t think WVU knows what it’s talking about right now, but I don’t think it’s WVU’s fault. It’ll take time to get the message sorted out and delivered properly. The deck’s been reshuffled and everything has to be reconsidered. The talking points have changed about this game through the years, too. Remember, the team that won used to take on a losing streak and it was explained that that was the case because the next game or the next few games didn’t mean as much. Now it doesn’t matter? I just get the sense its all going somewhere. 

Mack said:

In my opinion, claiming that WVU and Marshall shouldn’t play in basketball makes WVU look petty. There isn’t a single argument you can make for WVU not playing Marshall that you can stay consistent with OTHER THAN “Marshall isn’t very good but always plays very well against West Virginia, thus, Marshall can beat West Virginia and give WVU a very bad loss for its tournament resume.”

Other possible arguments that don’t hold water:

Marshall is a nobody. (WVU has a bunch of lesser nobodies and comparable nobodies on its schedule).

WVU doesn’t like playing Marshall in Charleston. (WVU is about to play William & friggin’ Mary in Charleston).

The game doesn’t make any money. (It does.)

The fans don’t care about it. (They do).

The players don’t care about it. (If true, there are many other games the players don’t care about).

It’s not a rivalry. (I think it is a rivalry for the reasons stated by Mr. Casazza. Even if it isn’t, who cares?)

“Anyhow, Huggins really tempered the Capital Classic the day before the game, suggesting Virginia Tech was scheduled to give the team a rival”

Isn’t this the same guy who said that proximity creates rivalries? Isn’t Morgantown closer to Huntington than Blacksburg?

Again, the messages don’t make sense. That Virginia Tech point was just weird. It’s not congruous, unless Huggins was trying to reference and recreate his playing days, which is possible, but it’s still a stretch. And with the current players, there is zero sentiment for a VT series, and I suspect the same is somewhat true of Marshall. Honestly, what’s the difference to this WVU team between Marshall and Duquesne? The Dukes are closer and actually beat WVU last season. I’ll disagree with one point you make, because when I say I think it’s going somewhere, I have a theory: WVU doesn’t want to play Marshall in the Big 12 schedule because WVU can play a better team on television in the middle of the Big 12 play — and you’re allowed one non-conference game in conference play. I could see something at least being discussed where internally WVU says, “We can get on television or we can get a money game or we can do something for recruiting in NYC or Philly in December if we have one more spot on the schedule.” WVU isn’t going to rid itself of home games. It can’t and it won’t. So what game disappears?

Ted said:

Wow, WVU won and Huggins still whines–classic!

Go ahead Coach–don’t play Marshall every season. Then you can add another Frostburg State or maybe even West Liberty.

Jeepers that guy is a real piece of work.

Not sure that was whining, but I get your reaction. And if he gets St. John’s or Villanova or someone from the old Big East — and I’m told that’s coming soon — that actually is a piece of work. I don’t think you’ll see the series dissolved because there are so many people who say “The state’s two teams have to play.” I’d challenge them to put an argument together behind those hollow words. That’s a headline. I need a story. I can write a different headline and a different story — and if the two football programs aren’t playing, why do the two basketball programs have to play?

Karl said:

I like that we play this game. It’s a service to the in-state fans that WVU gets to play at least one game per year somewhere besides Morgantown. It’s not like football, where the limited number of noncon games make them such a precious commodity. Is this opponent not far more interesting than someone like a Loyola? They should schedule this game during weeks when the students are on a holiday break, when the home attendance would suck anyway.

That’s fair, but that’s an easy problem to fix. Play a double-header in Charleston with WVU first and Marshall second. Hell, make it an all day thing with some high school and/or Mountain East games: 10 a.m. is Huntington Prep against a quality team in a game that’s possibly televised; 1 p.m. is the University of Charleston v. West Liberty; 4 p.m. is Marshall; 7 p.m. is WVU. Something like that. Switch it up all you like, but there’s a format. Or have Marshall actually play a regular season game in Charleston, like WVU has done through the years. There’s a solution somewhere out there. And if WVU were to somehow do away with the Capital Classic, it wouldn’t be for a no-name opponent. WVU would have to make that move and back it up with a legitimate explanation. 

Mack said:

By the way, I think Joe Manchin needs to intervene on this cheerleader contest and make sure that they compete every year. The state demands it.

Fly on the wall time there.

Rugger said:

“more offensive that Noreen”.

The Red Panda is more offensive than Noreen.

The 2000 Ravens were more offensive than Noreen.

Jeff Mullen is more offensive than Noreen.

nice kid though.

I agree on the final point … but Noreen’s passing, and specifically the amount of bad passes, keeps him off the floor.

SheikYbuti said:

I’d be more willing to buy “more offensive than Brent Musberger backstage at a beauty pageant.”

I doubt attendin’-high school-next-to-Target Noreen was that offensive.

Rugger said:

awesome Sheik. another to consider:

“more offensive that Petrino showing up at the Chi O Spring Formal in chaps riding a scooter.”

Da’Sean with the shot clock off in a tied game wasn’t that offensive.

Karl said:

Who knows if this kid will be any good, but this may be one case where our crazy geographic situation helped us. Richardson is from Oklahoma. His favorite before visiting WVU was reportedly Wisconsin. It had to be a selling point that he’d get to play at least one game each year in his home state if he came to WVU.

I was thinking similarly. I can’t recall too many occasions when WVU being in the Big 12 helped. Being in the Big 12, for whatever reason, has encouraged WVU to go the juco route. Having games in Oklahoma in the back pocket had to help. I’m curious if Dana or DeForest had any sort of relationship with the kid in high school. Also, I’d never heard of Coahoma before this week. The Big 12!

Wayward Eer said:

Did anyone see that Aaric Murray had 48 tonight vs. Temple? Just speechless?

Me at 10:52 p.m., seven minutes after this comment was posted: “… 48 what?”

netbros said:

Yep, Dalton Pepper is averaging 16.5 for Temple, Dan Jennings 12.7 and 8.3 for Long Beach State, and Murray 24.5 and 8 for Texas Southern. On the other hand, all three teams have losing records.

Be curious to see what last year’s transfer class starts doing when they are eligible again next year.

All in all though, I like the guys on the WV team now.

Hinds is at UMass, which is No. 1 in the RPI, but loses three seniors in the top five in scoring to graduation. That’s a really fun team, by the way. Excellent defensively and a bunch of guys who pass the ball which sets up an alarming number of open shots.

Mack said:

And I’m obviously not saying Spavital is a bad coach or a good coach. But it’s ridiculous to say that we really know anything about him, at this point. College football is full of coaches who soar to the top quickly. It has very few coaches that stay up there.

But there are coaches who get there and stay there, too. I’m not sure what you can actually know about a guy who’s been a full-time assistant for three seasons, so that’s fair, but no one’s going to hold that against him. When you consider where he’s been and who he’s worked for and what he’s witnessed, never mind all the connections he’s made at his stops or all the camps and clinics he’s worked and attended, you can safely assume he’s well versed. Guy’s been a student from the day he was born. I bet he’s a head coach within four years.

Sammy said:

I’ll play:

– Boundary Corner: One of these JUCOs and/or Travis Bell and/or one of Chestnut/Williams/Nana/etc (assuming one steps up)
– Field Corner: Banks
– Boundary Safety: KJ Dillon (backup Jeremy Tyler)
– Free Safety: Worley (backup Jarrod Harper) (Worley may play some boundary safety with Dillon dropping down to another position, too)
– Spur: Karl Joseph, backups Tonkery and Petteway
– Buck: Golson with backup Gross
– Sam: Kwiatkoski, backup a redshirt freshman (Benton?)
– Will: Isaiah Bruce/Jared Barber
– DE: Kyle Rose, backup Eric Kinsey
– DE: Dontrill Hyman, backup Noble Nwachukwu
– NT: Christian Brown, backup Howard

OK, so this is fun. And I can make predictions for things like this. I think Bell, if he’s back on the team, is a safety and a juco starts at corner. I think Howard can beat out Brown. But that’s just me. Nothing wrong with the list. Here are the things I find intriguing about this: 1) What do you do with Isaiah Bruce? 2) Dillon can obviously play, but where? 3) Getting Petteway and Nana back is a sneaky underrated thing. They can play and probably play multiple positions. 

Mack said:

If WVU stays healthy and guys stay on their natural trajectory . . . I think the defense can make a big jump in the overall rankings.

All of the starters that Sammy lists are pretty good.

One question: Is it just me or is Karl Joseph tremendously undersized to play at the spur spot?

I wouldn’t say “tremendously,” but he’s not what one might call “large” either. He’s basically the same size as Oklahoma’s Eric Striker, who Patterson thinks is about the perfect fit for that spot. And he’s bigger than Tyrann Mathieu.

Bobby Heenan said:

Great article, Mike. Thanks for looking into this and explaining how one position change has a big domino effect. I figured we’d move Joseph down to strong safety, but I’m definitely happy to see we may move him to spur. I think I’ve seen enough to know two things though: 1. he can play football well 2. he can’t play free safety well.

I think the Kwiatkowski/Bruce combo could be a very good core of inside LB’s.

I pretty much agree with Sammy with some minor things I think might be different….

I think Bell plays free safety, probably behind Worley on the depth chart to open the Spring. He played there for two years and isn’t terribly unfamiliar with it.

I don’t think Harper has the speed to play free safety. I think he backs up at strong safety or nickle back.

I’m not sure what the plan is for Isaac McDonald, but he has a rangy build and was a highly ranked recruit that redshirted last year. I figure he’ll get looks at strong safety and spur. They may try to put weight on him and put him at Buck, though. I’m not sure I’ve heard coaches comment on him so I’m guessing, obviously.

I like KJ Dillon, but he has been somewhat inconsistent. It wouldn’t surprise me if Tyler beats him out.

I think we need to talk a lot about Bruce in the spring. That position change didn’t take, and I wonder now why it happened. Harper has the look of a bandit, but I honestly haven’t seen or investigated much of him yet, but if he can’t play free, he can’t play nickel. McDonald is penciled in for that OLB/DE spot, kind of like d’Vante Henry was supposed to do. With that situation and moving Kinsey around, we never got to see that plan in action. That’ll be fun to see in the spring, too. I can’t decide if it’s a good thing or a bad thing to be talking about defense so much on a Holgorsen team.

Sammy said:

If it uncouth of me to note that if we move Joseph to Spur that means we’ll be playing a form of the dreaded 3-3-5? (Albeit not the 3-3-5 stack.)

Kinda sorta. Move Golson down and it’s a 4-2-5. Move, say, Dillon down and it’s a 3-4. Move Golson and Dillon down and it’s a 4-3. I say kinda sorta because that’s kinda sorta the idea. Deception by design.

I love you, Doug! said:

Joseph reminds me of what they used to say about the laser and Martin Short: An answer looking for a problem.

All three are wondrous in and of themselves, but (until Lasik and “The Three Amigos”), we didn’t really know what they were for.

Joseph had a tremendous season in 2012 because everyone was breaking through tackles in the front lines of the defense, giving him huge numbers, but he slipped this year. He seems too slow to cover receivers, but is a tremendous football player. Is he too small for Spur? Where do you put him?


Karl said:

Having watched Big 12 ball for two seasons now, it’s struck me that one area where the Big East had an edge was in toughness, particularly on the defensive side. I see so few big hits anymore. It doesn’t seem to be valued by these Texas kids. Am I alone on this?

It’s valid, and the best players in Texas seem to be skill position guys in spread offenses, or defenders who are made to tackle in space, so there’s a correlation to consider, I’m sure. I think the offensive skill is better, and good enough to stay out of some danger. I think the defenders are faster and in better position. I think quarterbacks get rid of the ball really quick, so there are fewer sacks. And, again, I think a lot of plays are made in space where defenders can’t risk blowing people up and missing. The Big East was played in tighter spaces. Am I alone on this?

MontanaEer said:

It’s easier to hit slower targets.

I am not.

pknocker40 said:

It’s a Black & Blue League!

Enjoy the weekend, the holidays and the next two weeks!