WVU Gameday Blog

About the dunk contest

The highlight of tonight’s Mountaineer Madness — presented by Full Throttle! — is certainly the dunk contest. Really everyone is excited, so much so that following the women’s team’s workout yesterday, Yinka Sanni and Lateefah Joye were trying a few things out. Sanni was actually close a few times and had everything but the actual dunk once. Joye wasn’t as close, but was still up there.

Might they enter?

“Not after what I just saw,” Coach Mike Carey said. “I thought maybe Yinka might. I’ve seen Yinka dunk one time and I told her if she wanted to get in, go ahead. But after what I just saw?”

It appears the men’s team will own the spotlight. Seven anonymous voters were asked to predict tonight’s winner and their voting produced an interesting result.

Continue reading…

Basketball … enough said

This is all we’re going to talk about today because, in this football bye week, it’s all anyone else seems to be interested in discussing. You know what happens tonight. Mountaineer Madness officially christens the 2007-08 season and West Virginia’s basketball team takes the the court again after another successful postseason appearance.

These Mountaineers have lived a good life in recent years. In the past four seasons, they are 78-51. They’ve played into the NCAA Tournament twice and for the NIT championship another time. They’ve had all-conference players and top-notch recruits, a big-time center and some terrific 3-point shooters. There is an added intrigue to them this season because they will play a different way then they have in the past as they attempt to press more on defense and push more on offense.

Then there is the obvious theme in that tonight they welcome back one of the program’s all-time greats.

And to think, the men’s team has been has been pretty good in the meantime, because we are, of course, talking about the women’s team.

Continue reading…

Berry good thus far

There are a number of ways to explain the statistical improvements on West Virginia’s defense this year. There is experience in the secondary, led by the infusion of former Michigan starter Ryan Mundy at safety, and there is a play-making consistency at linebacker, defined best by Mortty Ivy, who won’t be losing his spot to J.T. Thomas III any time soon.

It seems as though the defensive line has meant the most. Keilen Dykes is a force at the nose position and Johnny Dingle is disruptive on the end. They’ve been the two most noticeable players in the three-man front. Until now.

Tackle Scooter Berry has been named a — get ready for this — Midseason Freshman All-American by Rivals.com.

DT Scooter Berry, West Virginia (RS)
HIGH SCHOOL: North Babylon (N.Y.) HS
BUZZ:Berry has 10 tackles, 2.5 tackles for losses and a fumble recovery on the country’s 19th-best run defense.

Continue reading…

Perhaps they aren’t playing the best brand of football this year, but the Big 12 must be fun to cover. Consider:

* Oklahoma State’s wild 48-45 victory against Texas Tech, followed by Mike Gundy’s meltdown
* Colorado’s stunner against Oklahoma
* The behavior problems at Texas — seven arrests, three subsequent suspensions; one NCAA suspension — and, perhaps not coincidentally, the sudden fall of the Longhorns
* Texas A&M’s awful loss at Miami and head coach Dennis Franchione’s admission he’s distributed a secret newsletter with insider information to special boosters … for $1,200 a season
* Nebraska — and it’s gracious defense — getting booed at home
* Eleventh-ranked Missouri’s amazing offense is ranked No. 24 in rushing, No. 5 in passing, No. 4 in total yards and No. 11 in scoring
* Kansas is 5-0 and ranked No. 20 Coach Marc Mangino is … well, I’m not sure what to say.

Given all of that, it’s not surprising Texas Tech got in on the act.

What started as a fundraiser for the Theta Chi fraternity has ended with the organization’s suspension from the university.

As a way to raise money for the fraternity, some of its members designed and sold a T-shirt depicting the likeness of Michael Vick hanging Texas A&M University’s mascot, Reveille, from a noose. 

Continue reading…

Are you Joe Blow?

West Virginia coach Rich Rodriguez will take to the air waves tonight for his statewide call-in radio show from 7-9 p.m. on your local MSN Sportsnet affiliate and the tenor will obviously be better than it was last week (beware of some language. It’s not foul, but it’s not flowery, either).

Rodriguez spent much of his 90 minutes — the final half-hour usually goes to an assistant coach — in the cross-hairs of the callers and e-mailers who were disappointed with the team’s loss at South Florida.

Which is to say they were more disappointed with what they perceived to be the fashion in which WVU lost than they were with the fact WVU lost. Note the difference, because Rodriguez did and he was a tad, and perhaps understandably, defensive at times. He showed wise restraint, though, and finally drew a line and said he’d take no more questions about the USF game.

Somehow, 11 days after that game the topic of conversation circled back to the loss at Rodriguez’s Tuesday press conference. That wise restraint came a little undone as he addressed the reasons some people believe his team lost.

In the process, he might have given “Joe Blow sports fan” ammunition for tonight’s show…

Continue reading…

Prue on the move

Former West Virginia forward Darryl Prue has been hired as an assistant coach at Morgan State, the school announced Tuesday.

Prue joinsthe MSU staff following a three-year stint as a member of the Georgetown basketball staff. After graduating from West Virginia in 1990, he spent 11 years on the international basketball circuit, winning three league championships.

“We are fortunate to have him join our program,” said Bozeman. “He was known as an outstanding player post player [sic], and he’s already developed a rapport with the players, especially our big guys.”

A few things to note here. Prue originally committed to Georgetown coming out of high school, but did not meet the admission standards. He was on the Hoyas staff with John Thompson III from the beginning, but not as an assistant. Prue worked on the support staff.

And as for the quote from Bozeman, yes, it’s that Bozeman. 

This man has class

The great Phil Caskey, assistant sports information director at West Virginia who not only handles all communications for women’s basketball, but also unearths some fine news and notes for the football team, somehow finds the time to teach a graduate level class in the sports management program. Already this semester, he’s featured guest lecturers like Bob Hertzel, now of the Fairmont Times West Virginian, and Joe Brocato, of WDTV in Clarksburg.

Tuesday, he brought his class to the Puskar Center for the weekly Rich Rodriguez press conference. Initially, I thought it was lazy teaching, but it’s actually a good idea. Far too many graduates of similar programs around the country enter the working world without real-life experience in such areas. Subsequently, they’re in awe or lost the first few times they encounter those situations. This, though, gave then a different look into the world they’re about to enter. They may never be in a press conference again, or maybe they want to be around more now, but they definitely understand what happens.

And fortunately for Caskey’s class, Rodriguez’s press conference is always entertaining and sometimes hilarious.

Continue reading…

The backups step forward

Perhaps we’re too smitten with the quarterback situation at West Virginia to recognize otherwise. After all, who else can say they have three quarterbacks who have started and won conference games? (No, really, if anyone knows, please pass that along.) The Mountaineers have that in All-America candidate — and don’t ignore the Heisman Hype – Patrick White, Jarrett Brown, who many think is the best backup in the country, and Adam Bednarik, the resident Wally Pipp who did nothing to lose his starting spot but hurt.

Yet as you look around, quarterbacks get nicked up more now than ever and only the deepest and most talented teams can survive with a talented backup. QB-by-committee has failed in the past, but seems to flourish now. QB-by-necessity may have never been stronger, as explained by CSTV.com, and the Mountaineers have emboldened the trend.

Florida brought the two-quarterback attack into vogue last season as the Leak-Tebow one-two punch became virtually unstoppable, and this season has seen its fair share of signal-caller tandems. However, the tag-team passers of 2007 are more the product of necessary changes than ideal game planning. Injuries, miscues and suspensions have plagued the nation’s starting quarterbacks, allowing backups to earn extra time.

“It’s probably one of the most important parts of the offense,” West Virginia offensive coordinator Calvin Magee said of the backup. “You don’t want to miss a beat. You have to have a quarterback that can come in and keep things going.” 

It seems this year, teams are only as good as their backup quarterback. But fortunately for six of the nation’s top 20, that’s pretty good.

Premature bowl scenarios

Wow, the landscape sure has changed in the past two weeks, yes? Consider that since then-No. 5 West Virginia lost at South Florida and purportedly lost every one of its hopes and dreams, a lot happened:

In the 24 hours following the loss, Oklahoma, Rutgers, Texas, Oregon and Florida all lost. At home. Oklahoma, Texas and Florida would have remained in front of WVU and added to their cushions and Rutgers and Oregon would have leaped ahead of WVU. As it was, WVU dropped to No. 13 and remained behind, and in some cases well-behind, the other losers, which, in all honesty, seemed unfair since this was an eight-point loss on the road with a chance to tie the game late against a team that is now No. 5.

In retrospect, while coaches say polls do not matter, they do because had the Mountaineers been given even a little bit more credit in defeat, they’d be a tad higher with much firmer standing than they currently enjoy. Still, for WVU, this is a much more promising outlook than most could have imagined.

This past weekend only helped prove the point.

Continue reading…

McAfee’s dome

Honestly, the first things the media noticed upon entering the press box inside the Carrier Dome Saturday were the heat, the great view and the fact we wouldn’t need binoculars. Yes, we can be that fickle, but because we were so close to the field, it was pretty easy to see West Virginia kicker Pat McAfee had a new hair-do.

Rest assured, we later took time to monitor Patrick White’s warm-up and determine he would start, but McAfee’s hair was of greater concern. He’s had a history of bleaching and blonding, but always with his curly mop that he’ll sometimes let grow to considerable length or sometimes cut shorter before letting it go again.

His coach, Rich Rodriguez, once commented on his kicker’s hair by saying “I don’t want him to be the first one off the bus, I’ll tell you that much.” 

Well, to his pleasure and to our surprise — no! — chagrin McAfee went in a totally different direction with his latest cut.

Continue reading…