WVU Sports with Tom Bragg

G-Rob feels robbed … A-Rob feels woozy

When the final score is a lot to a little, it’s hard to isolate one play as a turning point. And it truth, this might not have even been one of those plays that contributed to Rutgers’ 38-14 victory at Syracuse Saturday.

As it was, the Orange were actually driving at the end of the first half and had a first-and-10 at the Rutgers 34. On the snap, from the bizarre and clearly ineffective “pistol” formation, Scarlet Knights safety Joe Lefeged invaded the backfield and hit quarterback Andrew Robinson to force a fumble the defense recovered — and “hit” is probably not a strong enough word to describe the contact.

Syracuse Coach Greg Robinson was bitter a day later, not because his team was outscored 38-0 in the final three-plus quarters or because one-time Syracuse commit Ray Rice ran wild for Rutgers and remained in the backfield late in the game, but because that one possibly decisive play in the second quarter was judged differently on the field by the officials than it was on the sideline by the Syracuse coach.

Still feeling the effects of another big loss, Syracuse head coach Greg Robinson said Sunday that he was submitting tape of a vicious hit on Orange quarterback Andrew Robinson to Big East officials for review.

Andrew Robinson was sacked high in the final minute of the second quarter of Saturday’s game against Rutgers by defensive back Joe Lefeged, and the play resulted in a lost fumble at the Rutgers 34-yard line.

No penalty was signaled. Greg Robinson thought the officials missed an obvious call, which stopped a promising Syracuse drive with the Scarlet Knights ahead 24-14.

“That was a vicious blow to the head, helmet to helmet,” Greg Robinson said. “That is a little frustrating when I look at it. Andrew’s too competitive. He’s got to know when to hold them and when to fold them.”

In his press conference Friday afternoon, Bob Huggins was asked if he’d be approaching Mountaineer Madness later that night as some sort of a evaluation of his new players.

“Nah, we’re just going to have fun.”

Mission: Accomplished. About 6,000 curious fans flooded into the Coliseum last night for the official beginning to the basketball season at West Virginia University. Players and coaches from the men’s and women’s teams were available from 8-9 p.m. and the Coliseum floor was covered the entire hour with long lines waiting to get a word with and a signature from their Mountaineers. In the meantime, two movie theater screens behind the home basket showed highlight videos from last season.

Finally, the floor was cleared, though Huggins stayed to the very end and signed every last item put before him. At 9 o’clock sharp, the pep band hit the fight song, complete with a casual cameo by Ryan J. Boyd.

Then the fun began…

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Friday Feedback

Good work, everyone, and we managed a week’s worth of interaction without the benefit of an upcoming game. I knew we had it in us. Glad to see Joe Blow sports fan make a few appearances as well, which we’ll review in the returning Friday Feedback…

All messages appear as posted. So in other words, don’t blame me.

Tim says:

Hi,
I’m Tim and I’m a Mountaineeraholic. It broke my heart when we lost to S. Florida.I really thought this was THE year.(it may still be,the way things are going) With that said,I think something much more important is transpiring.The Big East nay sayers are about to pounce. One season(last year) is not going to quiet them. I feel as a conference,if S.Florida goes undefeated,they will get to the championship game. If WVU wins out,they will also get a BCS bid. Two Big East teams in BCS games? Who’d a thunk it?!Also,with no disrespect to U. Conn.,Cincinnati,isn’t out of this thing by any stretch of the imagination. They are solid. So,to me,with everything as it is,here is what is best for the Big East: S. Florida-Chmp. game
WVU or Cincy-BCS
WVU or Cincy-Sun
Conn.or Rutg.-CarCare
Conn.or Rutg.-Intrntnl.

Sorry to say,I think five teams are all that will be eligible.
At the begining of the season,I actually thought we would have seven. I’m a dreamer!
Imagine,S.Florida beating LSU,
then WVU STOMPING Boston College or Virginia Tech. in the Orange Bowl.

I think I could learn to live with the lose to S. Florida. Couldn’t you?

That’s the spirit, Tim. Also, Coach has something for you in his office…

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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. 

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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…

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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.

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