WVU Sports with Mike Casazza

‘I told you.’

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What a difference Lamont West makes. Confident on Wednesday that he’d make shots on Thursday, the redshirt freshman’s first NCAA tournament game saw one of his finest performances. “I told you,” he said after making 2 of 3 3-point attempts and scoring 15 points. He was 1-for-14 from 3-point range and totaled 13 points the prior six games.

He insisted he was not too deep inside his head.

“It was the exact same thing,” West said. “I shot it just like how I shot the other ones. These just went in.”

Somewhat fresh off zipping through the top three seeds and winning the Big 12 tournament, the 22nd-ranked West Virginia women’s basketball team begins its NCAA tournament in College Park, Maryland. WVU (23-10), the No. 6 seed in the Bridgeport region, will play 11th-seeded Elon at 2:30 p.m. The game will be televised on ESPN2.

If you haven’t seen her before or if you can’t wait to again, have a look at sophomore Tynice Martin. Remember, she’s really good!

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Plenty more to come today, the second media day at this site, with Notre Dame availability beginning at 1:35 p.m. and West Virginia following at 2:20 p.m. The shootaround is closed, so I hope you’ve had your fix of sweet Beetle Bolden dunks. The actual game Saturday will tip at 12:10 p.m. Saturday on CBS.

The Mountaineers hit many and maybe most of their marks last night, even if defense was at times lacking and the 1-3-1 merely succeeded it slowing Bucknell as it closed by shooting 7-for-14 from the floor. Good signs in various areas, and you do have to tip your cap to the Bison and how they played in the second half after the wind left their sails at the end of the first half.

But enough of that. As I said, more to come later. It’s transcript time.

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NCAA first round: (4) WVU v. (13) Bucknell

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You are looking live at the KeyBank Center in downtown Buffalo, site of today’s NCAA tournament first-round game between West Virginia and Bucknell. The winner advances to play Notre Dame, the No. 5 seed in the region. The Fighting Irish survived the No. 12 seed, Princeton, 60-58, despite holding an 11-point lead in the second half.

Princeton had an open 3-pointer to tie the score with 16 seconds left to play and missed, but the rebound was tipped in for two points. Notre Dame took a timeout with 12.8 seconds remaining, and Matt Farrell was fouled. He missed the front end of a one-and-one, but Princeton’s Devin Canady missed a 3 with three seconds to go, and that left him 2-for-10 for the day.

Notre Dame’s Steve Vasturia then went 1-for-2 at the line, and the miss on the second attempt with 0.4 seconds to go left Princeton out of luck.

Hey! The wait is over. Let the madness begin

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West Virginia remains right around a two-touchdown favorite in today’s first-round game against Bucknell. The numberFire.com prediction gives the Mountaineers a 76-percent chance of winning. (Hmm. Notre Dame has a 65-percent chance of beating Princeton, and WVU has a 73-percent chance of getting to the Sweet Sixteen.)

Don’t tell that to the Mountaineers, who find themselves without nearly the amount of buzz they generated before the start of the tournament last year.

“I like being an underdog,” said Mountaineer guard Teyvon Myers. “I mean, I love being an overdog too because I like being on TV all the time and having people talking about us. But I really love being the underdog.”

(No, by the way, I didn’t correct Myers on “overdog.” In my mind I kept hearing Boon whispering to Otter in “Animal House” to “forget it; he’s rolling.”)

“People look at that loss we took last year [against SFA],” Myers continued. “They see we just lost in the [Big 12] championship and then they beat us down. But I feel like the guys are ready. We took the opportunity to get better every day in practice. I feel everyone is locked in. I feel that’s going to carry us to where we need to go — into the second round.”

Thinking of a master plan

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This came late in yesterday’s live blog:

Elijah Macon insisted he’ll front Nana Foulland and make him use his left hand.

“Out of all the film I’ve watched I’ve seen him shoot it one time with his left hand,” Macon said.

And what of that shot?

“He made it,” Macon said. “But it didn’t look comfortable.”

The right hand/left hand stuff will not shatter the Earth. Nana Foulland shoots 63 percent from the floor. He’s a post player. He’s going to hang around the rim. He’s going to go over his left shoulder. But what’s also apparent about Foulland is that he’s allowed to hang around the rim and go over his left shoulder.

Defenders have played behind him, which lets him use that left shoulder as the fulcrum for his offense. West Virginia has a different plan today. Macon said he’ll play in front of Foulland and deny passes.

“I’m going to sit on his knees the whole game,” Macon said, insisting he’ll play in front of Foulland and stay between him and the ball so he can’t catch easy entry passes into the post.

When the Mountaineers scrimmaged in the preseason against Purdue, Macon tried that against 7-2, 290-pound center Isaac Haas, who ended up averaging 12.8 points and shooting 58.9 percent for the Boilermakers this season.

“I want to say he only had six or eight points, so I know we can do it,” the 6-9, 240-pound Macon said. “It’s going to be a challenge, but if we front him, we can take him out of the offense. I feel like if we front him, I don’t think he’ll work for position. But who knows?”

Sometimes you have to tiptoe around a story. It’s not that topics are taboo or that you don’t know your way around a player or a locker room after 34 games with the player or the team. It’s that some subjects are just difficult to bring up with someone, no matter how obvious.

Slumps are one of those subjects.

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