WVU Sports with Tom Bragg

John, we hardly knew ye

I still remember my reaction several years ago when I learned, quite mysteriously, a Beilein had been involved in some sort of an altercation at the Pittsburgh airport.

“What did Patrick/Mark/Andy/Seana/Kathleen do?”

It had to be another Beilein, as unlikely as any of those scenarios seemed. The possibility John Beilein had done something wrong didn’t seem like much of a possibility at all. He was/is just too conservative, too conscious, too clever to get into trouble. I still don’t believe that was entirely his fault, but rather that it quickly unraveled beyond his control, especially when one considers his rather animated self-defense in the days after.

But what now after learning he’s guilty of practicing too much last year while coaching West Virginia? Well, the feelings are still the same. Unimaginably hard to believe, but not that big of a deal.

Continue reading…

How’s O.J. Mayo, you ask?

We all thought Huntington’s Ovinton J’Anthony Mayo would be of immediate impact playing basketball at Southern California. With the resurgence of the Trojans and the limelight of Los Angeles, some even thought Mayo would be a knockout.

But who among us figured he’d be both? Allegedly.

USC coach Tim Floyd said he met with guards O.J. Mayo and Daniel Hackett over the weekend after multiple sources told the Daily News Mayo punched Hackett during a pickup game last month.

“I brought O.J. into my office and asked him about it and I also spoke to Daniel,” Floyd said. “They said it wasn’t true.”

Hackett said Mayo accidentally threw an elbow after a rebound. Hackett broke his jaw during the incident, and it will be wired shut for at least four more weeks.

Although the incident occurred Sept. 28, Floyd has been out of town for several weeks and did not speak to Mayo about it until Sunday. Several sources, including a member of the basketball team, said Mayo punched Hackett during the game. No coaches were present.

“Yeah, he punched him,” a player said. “They changed the story for the media.”

Hackett and Mayo denied any punches were thrown.

When last we saw Wellington Smith, he was celebrating teammate Joe Alexander’s from-the-foul-line dunk at Friday’s Mountaineer Madness by taking a few steps onto the court and then dropping his shorts. Watch the video and you can’t miss it. Heck, watching it live you couldn’t miss it. I was and still am stunned.

Monday, the Mountaineers were available for interviews and as Smith was discussing how what he learned last year could help him this year, I honestly couldn’t resist getting to the, um, bottom of this development.

Did you take your shorts off?

“I did. We play open gym all the time and sometimes someone will dunk on someone or someone will make a nice move and finish at the basket and someone will take his shorts off and maybe throw them. Frank (Young) started it last year. Joe dunked on someone and Frank took his shorts off and threw them up in the stands. It’s just gone on from there.”

Let’s start incorporating this into our lives, OK?

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…

Continue reading…

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…

Continue reading…

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…