There’s no way getting around the fact West Virginia’s nonconference schedule was abysmal early on. I’d say Prairie View and University of Maryland-Eastern Shore were among the worst opponents ever at the Coliseum. Yet the strength of schedule is No. 102, which isn’t awful when you consider Prairie View is No. 283 and UMES is No. 311. That’s a hell of an anchor.
Anyhow, Auburn was a nice test and Duquesne is going to win in the Atlantic 10. We also hear that Saturday’s opponent, the University of Maryland-Baltimore County, is not to be overlooked, that according to ESPN.com’s Weekly Watch, which put WVU on upset alert!
â€¢ Saturday: Maryland-Baltimore County over West Virginia, 4 p.m. ET
The Mountaineers are transitioning into the Bob Huggins style of basketball and are off to a good start. They had SEC favorite Tennessee on the ropes before losing, 74-72. Guard Alex Ruoff leads the team in scoring (16.5 points), and forward Joe Alexanderis the top rebounder (7.0 boards). Tough defense and attacking the rim on offense has been the formula for success for WVU. UMBC has gained confidence through early-season success with wins over three A-10 schools (at LaSalle, at Richmond and GW). Coach Randy Monroe has scoring balance with four players Brian Hodges (18.8 points), Ray Barbosa (16.2 points), Darryl Proctor (14.8 points) and Cavell Johnson(14.3 points). Senior guard Hodges leads$ the attack, and transfers Barbosa (James Madison) and Proctor (Coppin State) are eligible and contributing. Johnson, another James Madison transfer, was named to the preseason All-America East first team. The Retrievers may have the experience and confidence to give the West Virginia faithful something to worry about.
Boldly going places I generally do not go, so bear with me here. I wrote earlier in the week about D.J. Woods, an Ohio high school receiver who committed to WVU Sunday. He is not to be confused with J.D. Woods, a Florida high school receiver who committed to WVU Sunday.
Anyhow, I asked D.J. why he chose WVU when he’d originally committed to Nebraska and was recently recruited by Missouri and other schools that prefer to pass the ball. He’s a receiver. Receivers like to catch passes. Those teams pass. Fair question. In fact, it was one he’d asked himself, which made for a revealing answer.
“When I got there, I wasn’t really thinking about West Virginia,” he said. “They were offering me and I was pleased they’d offered me, but I wasn’t really considering them. I said, ‘No offense, but I don’t think I want to come here because you don’t throw the ball.'”
Woods wasn’t sure how the coaches would react.
“They said, ‘That’s understandable, but just because you don’t see us throw it doesn’t me we can’t. Maybe we don’t have someone like you to throw it to,'” Woods said.
The coaches had Woods’ attention. He’d heard what he thought was every recruiting pitch imaginable until then.
“Coach Rodriguez told me that in the Pitt game they couldn’t throw the ball like they wanted to,” he said. “They had 1-on-1 coverage on the boundary side, but nobody on that side could beat their man. They said with my speed they felt comfortable I could make a big play. I told them if I came there, I’d make a difference. Now I’m there and I’m ready to make an impact.”
Bob Huggins looks a little different on the sideline this season and the behavior, despite two technical fouls, has been both curious and comforting to his players. Take, for example, his final thoughts before a game last week, as described by sophomore point guard Joe Mazzulla.
“His pregame speech before the Auburn game was simply, ‘I’m ready. Are you?’ We were fired up. It’s good to see he’s very relaxed and calm before the game.”
That got me thinking and I remembered John Beilein’s “pep talk” before the UCLA game last year. I recall staring at theÂ television in amazement.
I’d say I was surprised to learn of Bobby Petrino’s sudden decision to resign as the head coach of the NFL’s Atlanta Falcons and take over at the University of Arkansas, except that Petrino is the guy who would quit 13 games into his first NFL season the very day he apparently contacted Arkansas and expressed his desire to be its next coach.
In the two years he was in the Big East, there was a occasional running joke where some reporters would ask Louisville reporters if they still had a coach. The guy is just aÂ … well, no matter what I would choose to say about Petrino, it couldn’t best the best of ESPN.com’s Pat Forde, who has a history with Petrino and skewered him this morning.
Bobby Petrino will return your embrace, Hog fans. But while he’s hugging you he’ll be looking over your shoulder, scanning the terrain for his next hook-up.
Even in a profession rife with dishonest posturing, Petrino is singularly mercenary. Loyalty, allegiance, commitment and honesty are foreign concepts to him. It must be a sad existence.
I apologize to Alabama’s Nick Saban — last year I named him president of the Liar’s Club. He’s been impeached and replaced by the disingenuous drifter.
Of all the university-related sports blogs, it occurs to me that Michigan has some of the best. You’ll remember it was the very good mgoblog that first reported Lloyd Carr’s retirement. Well, blog brethren Maize n Brew chimes in today on the coaching search, which has not gone entirely as planned, and it gives WVU’s Rich Rodriguez a 35 % chanceÂ of getting the gig.
Verdict –He has to be one of the first coaches getting a call from Martin, at least I hope so. I don’t think he’s going to leave WVU, but he’s a winning, young coach who would put Michigan in a position to compete for a national title just about every year. Problem is he turned down another legendary program to stay at West Virginia. I’d put him at 35% chance of coming to Ann Arbor.
I try to be careful where I get my news from and television is sometimes not the best option. Something about one person arguing with another in hopes that I don’t change the channel seems less than reliable. That said, what’s not to like about Mel Kiper Jr.? I’d watch him talk about North Korea on CNN. Seriously.
A colleague of mine says that if he was any good, he’s be working in the NFL. I happen to think the NFL couldn’t match what he’s got with ESPN — pay, schedule, exposure, the whole package. Anyhow, the start of holiday season is also the start of Kiper Jr. season because the man will be on your television from now until the day after the 2008 NFL Draft, which is when he starts talking about the 2009 draft.
He answered a few questions Monday about the upcoming draft and included our very own Steve Slaton.
Â West Virginia’s Steve Slaton did not have a strong finish to the regular season. He has great speed, but Slaton is a guaranteed first-round pick because he’s not an everydown back, but more of a situational-type player. There are plenty of incentives for going back to Morgantown for his senior season — he will have a chance to win the Heisman Trophy and the Mountaineers should be in the national title picture once again.
Obviously, there’s a word missing there because Kiper Jr. doesn’t think he’s a first-round pick. What that means,Â I have no clue. He could go and rip up Oklahoma in the Fiesta Bowl and keep running right to the green room in New York City. Or he could struggle and come back, likely with many, of not all, of his teammates facing a similar decision and chase the ultimate prize again in 2008.
He is, however, one of The Clash guys in this draft: Should I stay or should I go?
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