I want to cover several things, time permitting, before the West Virginia University Basketball Team tips off against Northern Colorado in about an hour. I’m going to begin with the Mountaineers’ solid 24-20 upset of 24th ranked Kansas State on the road Saturday. It’s safe to say that win is the biggest in first year head coach Neal Brown’s WVU stint. It’s probably not a coincidence that Brown’s decision to start quarterback Jarret Doege over Austin Kendall had much to do with the result.
Doege, a transfer from Bowling Green, looked solid completing 20 of 30 passes for 234 yards and three touchdowns. He didn’t throw an interception. Kansas State owned an advantage in most statistical categories except turnovers. West Virginia committed none, but the Wildcats were picked off twice by WVU including Hakeem Baily’s interception at the three-yard line with 28 seconds left to seal the win.
It’s a small sample size, but Doege looked to be a bit of an upgrade from Kendall. But some things aren’t always as clear as they seem initially, so yours truly will continue to observe before rendering an opinion. When the depth chart for the Kansas State game was released last Monday Kendall was listed as the starter. It wasn’t until some time during the pre game radio broadcast that it became known that Doege would get the start.
This Monday Doege is listed as the starter and one has to figure that his status as the number one is secure. I don’t want to throw false hope around, but Saturday’s win keeps a six-win season in sight and six wins bring bowl eligibility. On Saturday WVU looked like a team capable of winning its final two games of course if one goes back a week to the Texas Tech debacle you see an incapable team. I’m anxious to see what the Mountaineers bring against Oklahoma State at noon Saturday on ESPN2.
Last weekend got off to a great start when the men’s basketball team traveled to Pitt and won the Backyard Brawl 68-53. It was the breakout party for coach Bob Huggins prized recruit, Oscar Tshiebwe, who had a double-double bay halftime on his way to a 20 point 17 rebound night. Tshiebwe was saddled with foul trouble in the opener with Akron a week earlier.
I had a friend text me that he thinks this is Huggins best team at WVU. Keeping Tshiebwe and Derek Culver out of foul trouble and on the floor will give this team a very high ceiling. I’ll reserve any sort of proclamation until sometime in January.
In parting, I was watching Martinsburg play Preston County in a first round AAA playoff game on Saturday. Martinsburg has won 53 games in a row and are likely to win its fifth straight state championship this season. Preston got the 16th seed with a 4-6 record and no wins over a quality opponent.
This game was obviously a huge mismatch and it got ugly early. The Bulldogs were ahead 21-0 before the offense took the field. It was 56-0 in the first quarter and 84-0 with several minutes left in the first half before coach Dave Walker put the JV team in the game. I mention this because games like this shouldn’t be played. Some years ago the WVSSAC realigned the classifications and in doing so reduced the number of AAA schools to 29. However, they left the number of teams qualifying for the playoffs at 16, so teams with a losing record get in every year.
This year four 4-6 teams got in and three more 5-5 teams made the field. The WVSSAC should really consider going to an eight team format for the AAA playoff.