WVU Gameday Blog

Solution for putting up with Duke

It’s going to be a difficult 24 hours for you, I know, so step away from the television. If what a network says bothers you, change the channel because that message isn’t changing. You know that one guy loves Duke and thinks the Blue Devils are going to win. The game, the tournament, probably even the presidency. You can’t change that, so change the channel. Don’t let it ruin this for you.

Ask yourself a simple question: Does what one guy says really matter? After all, didn’t one entity almost universally proclaim Arizona would beat WVU? And look what happened. Why worry now? Players play the games. Everyone else discusses them … and yes, I understand how hypocritical that sounds.

I do understand the complaint that factual inaccuracies need to stop and cannot be allowed to live on as realities. Let’s dismiss this notion that opponents can simply attack Joe Alexander and get him in foul trouble because Alexander tends to get in foul trouble.

Alexander is rarely in foul trouble. Last night was an anomaly created by a needless foul at the end of the first half and an odd call late in the game the officials needed to discuss. None of that was done by attacking Alexander. He choose his spots and it seems WVU does a good job protecting Alexander. He means too much offensively to risk losing him defensively.

We’ll agree this Joe Alexander was born after the loss to Pitt, a game in which he was benched and scored just five points. Since then, Alexander fouled out once. That was the following game against Rutgers and, quite frankly, it didn’t matter. He’s had four fouls three times. One was last night. The others were at Villanova — quite frankly, that didn’t matter, either — and DePaul — when he was probably the best player on the floor. He’s been otherwise safe and has played large minutes while on this streak.

That’s not foul trouble and I’m having a hard time understanding what one voice meant by saying Duke will attack Alexander in transition. What, they run right at him? Isn’t the easy counter for Alexander to run out of bounds and lead the player with the ball into a turnover?

Friday Feedback

Not happening. Not today at least. As you can see, it’s been a long night spent writing and wondering where that Alex Ruoff has been … but I’m pretty sure someone some people saw this coming. The plan is to opine in some manner today from interviews that set the scene for Saturday afternoon’s Duke-WVU game.

Until then, let’s have your thoughts on Thursday night…

I don’t know what it means, if anything…

… but Ryan J. Boyd is here with the pep band.

Simon’s 70-footer

downs Cincinnati

By Staff Reports
Arizona Daily Wildcat
February 12, 1996

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Way back when, Cincinnati and Arizona were two of the best teams in the country every single season. They played twice during those years and twice Lute Olsen’s Wildcats won, including a memorable 500th career victory the last time Huggins coached against tonight’s opponent.

A smashed chalkboard in the Cincinnati locker room testified to the bitterness of the loss.

Arizona’s interim Coach, Kevin O’Neill, said Wednesday he thinks WVU’s Bob Huggins is “probably the most underrated coach in America at any level.” True, they’ve been friends forever and coaches will sometimes engage in hyperbole when it’s their turn to take the stage — example: Huggins saying during his interview session that his team wasn’t very good.

The urge, though, is to agree with O’Neill, at least for this season. This in no way as easy as it was made to look with the nonchalance the Mountaineers exude when explaining their ascent to this point.

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Well, that settles it. Bo Ryan has spoken.

I happen to think Wisconsin’s head coach is one of the best in the country. That program shouldn’t be as good as it is, but every year it’s right there and without the wealth of NBA players you see elsewhere around that conference. Some say the Big 11 is down, but just maybe Wisconsin’s root canal style has something to do with it. A perception versus reality sort of thing. It can be hard to watch, but if one appreciates good half court offense and defense, the Badgers are pretty good.

Anyhow, Ryan called a time out from apparently coaching his son’s Little League team so that he might collect a paycheck from Sprint and then donate two cents to the WVU-Arizona matchup.

* Pardon his slight inaccuracies regarding WVU’s recent tournament history.  

O-ver-rate-ed?

The Oakland Tribune released the results to its annual Pac-10 writers poll last week and Arizona’s Chase Budinger was considered the Most Overrated Player.

WHO IS THE LEAGUE’S MOST OVERRATED PLAYER?

On Arizona’s Chase Budinger:“Seems to disappear a bit too often when games are on the line.”

“Lute Olson called Budinger the best freshman he’s ever had at Arizona. Those words have made it hard to figure Budinger’s brilliance one moment, sloppiness the next.”

“World-class athlete who doesn’t seem to have enough fire in him to be a dominant player.”

“Inconsistent, mediocre defender and rebounder for his size, too often shy away from taking the ball to the basket.”

“Scores a lot and has the big rep, but how many games has he won for the Cats? How many big shots has he made? He’s not a game-changer.”

This sounds familiar. Good thing Boeheim wasn’t around.  ( ” … is there a fine for that?” )

To be fair, Budinger has handled this pretty well.

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stewcover2.jpg

The WVU Alumni magazine has the New Martinsville Magician on its upcoming cover, but couldn’t decide which photo to use.

With his charismatic “down home” charm, Stewart may just be the most popular guy in West Virginia right now — and there was certainly no doubt who was going to grace the cover of WVU’s Spring Alumni Magazine. In fact, the editorial board was so split on which photo best illustrated Stewart’s affable personality, that half the run features him in a suit and tie with football in hand; the other in a monogrammed shirt with rolled-up sleeves and a huge smile.

“Both shots, taken by WVU Photographer Greg Ellis, are absolutely beautiful,” said Assistant Vice President for Creative Direction Dana Coester. “Individually, they stand on their own in terms of telling the story of Coach Stewart’s positive outlook on football and life . . . the family rapport he has with his team, coaches, and fans . . . his love and respect for this state and this University . . . and the leadership he brings to this position. Bottom line: He’s just a great man, and we’re leaving it up to our magazine readers and fans to tell us which cover photo you think best represents him.”

Vote for your favorite and you might receive an autographed copy. Unless you’re a high school student. That would be cheating.

I admit I don’t follow women’s basketball very much. Certainly not as much as I should have this season, and perhaps that’s for the best.

That said, I imagine the NCAA Tournament is structured similarly, if not the same, as is the men’s NCAA Tournament. I’m curious because WVU’s women’s team is ranked No. 17 and was appropriately seeded fifth in this year’s tournament. The reward for the greatest season in school history? A first-round game against the University of New Mexico, a team that’s won six straight games, including a conference tournament championship. 

No big deal, right? Well, that first-round game is in The Pitt. In Albuquerque, N.M. It’s the opponent’s home floor. Apparently, that’s the way the women’s tournament is.

“That’s the way the women’s tournament is, and it’s a shame,” Carey said. “(In 2004) we were a lower seed, so it didn’t bother me so much. Now, being the fifth seed and playing on the 12th seed’s home court, that’s a big disadvantage.”

You thought Arizona had it tough?

Consider the plight of Arizona, the program that has been in the NCAA Tournament 24 years in a row now, better than anyone else in the country, and was about as perilously perched on this season’s bubble as is imaginable. You don’t want to be a part of the team that snaps that streak.

Well, the hopeful Wildcats gathered and waited … and waited … and waited until their invitation was revealed in the West Region, the last of the four regions to be announced. Arizona is 4-8 in the past 12 games and of late shows two victories against Oregon State (6-24, 0-18 Pac-10, maybe the worst team in a major conference) and one against California (16-15, RPI No. 92) and Washington State (24-8, but 7-6 in final 13 games). The Wildcats also lost twice to fellow bubble dweller Arizona State. It was close, but the Wildcats are in. Again.

UA interim head coach Kevin O’Neill, previously confident of his 19-14 team’s chances for a 24th straight NCAA tournament bid, couldn’t help keep his mind from racing.

The last “spots were left and I was like. ‘C’mon, now. We did play the best schedule.’ ” O’Neill said. “This was a little bit hair-raising for myself and my wife sitting at home watching.”

So by the time O’Neill and his wife, Roberta, raced down to McKale Center 30 minutes later, the Wildcats’ tournament streak alive with a No. 10 seed in the West region despite a precarious month on the bubble, the sense of relief was palpable.

“It beats the alternative of being the guy who was coaching when they didn’t continue the streak,” O’Neill said. “I’ll be honest with you: Those thoughts always run through your mind.”

This is worth mentioning because WVU, which was snubbed last season, then went to win the NIT and prove it really did belong, had to wait to the end, too. Despite confidence they were in, the Mountaineers had some tense moments.

“I was having a nightmare we weren’t going to get in that last bracket,” said guard Alex Ruoff, who admitted his sleep was interrupted Saturday night by such a thought. “It was almost just as tough as last year. We went to a meeting at 5 o’clock and I was feeling OK. We were definitely in. Then it got to the last bracket and I was like, ‘We’ve got to be in here.’ I saw Villanova was in and I knew we’d be in before Villanova, but I knew they beat us. I was still like, ‘We have to be in. Right? Please?’ I was looking for some closure there.”