WVU Sports with Mike Casazza

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You can ignore the final score. It wasn’t 21-0. The spring game is always weird. Geno Smith threw a touchdown pass to Shelton Gibson late the action, and I think the Gold, which is the offense, got the points. A bit later, with 3:24 left on the clock, head coach Dana Holgorsen called it a day and decided the 15th practice was over and West Virginia was finished with spring football. He said he got bored. This is probably all apropos.

But, things did happen, and though there are some questions, there are also answers.

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Regional, anybody?

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Monday mornings at the Gazette-Mail …

Me: Here’s something you need to start thinking about.
Boss: What’s that?
Me: Covering postseason baseball.
Boss: … you’re probably right.

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Spring game this and that

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Here’s your relevant information for tomorrow’s game, including how to watch. Consider this your game post. I’m out of town. Although I’ve already turned in my sidebar for Sunday’s paper, I won’t be at the game. Please, let me know what I miss.

Have a great Easter and a splendid weekend.

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“I knew when he was in the eighth grade he was special. He had a maturity about him. He was a relentless worker. And he made sacrifices. So many kids in this day and age hit adversity and don’t know how to deal with it. He did.”

Andre Parker
Head coach, Winton Woods High 

One of 12 children, a standout player at a high school that wasn’t part of a conference, a redshirt in 2015 and a reserve at the beginning of last season, West Virginia linebacker David Long has a story to tell.

Noted good coach Mike Carey has sent another player into the WNBA. Lanay Montgomery is off to the Seattle Storm, the No. 7 seed in the playoffs last season. She’s the sixth player coached by Carey to be drafted, and as you can tell by the reactions of her teammates, she’s earned it.

“There is no one more deserving of this moment than Lanay Montgomery,” coach Carey said. “With her tremendous work ethic, Lanay has made great strides in her five years at West Virginia University. We are very proud of her accomplishments and I wish her the best of luck in Seattle.”
With Montgomery’s selection on Thursday, the Mountaineers have had back-to-back draft picks for the first time in program history and three selections in the last four seasons. Asya Bussie was a 15th overall pick in the second round in 2014 by the Minnesota Lynx and Bria Holmes was an 11th overall, first round pick by the Atlanta Dream last season.
Montgomery finished her career with 937 rebounds (7.1 rpg), 855 points (6.5 ppg) and 330 blocks (2.5 bpg). She set the West Virginia career field goal percentage record with a 59.6 shooting percentage (355-of-596) after breaking the program’s single-season shooting percentage in her junior and senior campaigns. Montgomery’s 330 blocks are the second-most at WVU and the fourth-highest in Big 12 Conference history. Her 7.1 rebounding average and 20 double-doubles were seven all-time at West Virginia.

 

The champs are here

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The methodology inside West Virginia’s dugout is normalcy. A player gets hurt, and that stinks, but there are many players on the roster, and those early-season tournaments and games prepare a manager for the times when he loses a DH batting .351 and a starting pitcher who handles Sundays.

WVU wins its first two Big 12 series of the season on the road, but who’s more at home on the road than the Mountaineers? Those series wins were against ranked Baylor and Oklahoma State, but didn’t WVU go 2-0 away from home against defending national champ Coastal Carolina?

Oh, there’s a big series this weekend? The No. 3-ranked team in the country, the team that took an 8-0 lead over WVU in the championship game of the Big 12 tournament last season and was relieved to escape with an 11-10 win in extra innings, is in town for three? Please hand the plate umpire your lineup cards, and let’s see what happens.

But let’s not dismiss this: This is a defining moment for WVU baseball. It’s the difference between the Mountaineers saying, “Let’s see how we fare against the best!” and “Let’s see who’s the best.” Go to Five Below. Throw down for some Big League Chew, and so help me if it’s original.

This ought to be good.

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Tony does what’s best for Dews

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Don’t forget this about West Virginia’s running backs coach: He knows his way around WVU. He was a graduate assistant under Don Nehlen and Rich Rodriguez, which was an interesting time, and then he was an assistant coach for the 2007 season under Rodriguez, which was also an interesting time.

He’s been gone for nine years, so it’s informative to have him reflect on what the program is like now relative to what it was envisioned to be with a young, ambitious coach way back when.

And while we’re on the topic of ambitious, how about Dews?

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I don’t need to tell you this, but West Virginia has relied on junior college recruiting for basically as long as Dana Holgorsen has been the head coach … and this will be his seventh season in the fall. Rich Rodriguez spent seven years on the same sidelines, for perspective. Anyhow, the Mountaineers have also developed this recruiting philosophy. Where first it was for need and immediate impact, it’s now that as well as talent and also 11th hour acquisitions to address a position or one of the three sides of the ball.

And just for fun, WVU has hit on something especially important that others have started to target, too. Junior college players typically arrive on campus with two or three years left to play two seasons. The Mountaineers have found success with players who have three years to play three seasons: Mark Glowinski, Skyler Howard, Nick O’Toole, Ka’Raun White, Toyous Avery, Hakeem Bailey, Trevon Wesco, Kelby Wickline and, when he arrives over the summer, Fontez Davis.

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