Chip Shots – Good and Bad

by Jim Buzzerd

The weekend did not get off to the kind of start West Virginia University sports fans had hoped, or even expected. The WVU basketball team lost its opening game with Buffalo Friday night 99-94 in overtime. The Mountaineers led by 13 with 16 minutes to go, but had no answer to C.J. Massinburg who hit 9-15 three-point shots en route to a 43-point night. Massinburg’s heavily contested trey from well outside the arc with 16 seconds left tied the game at 84.

Some quick takes before moving on to football. There was a lot of hype in the preseason about how good this basketball team could be. That hype may prove accurate before all is said and done, but there are some growing pains to overcome that should have been anticipated. Rarely do you lose one of the winningest backcourt tandems in school history and not miss a beat. That was painfully evident Friday as newcomer guards Jermaine Haley, Jordan McCabe and Brandon Knapper struggled to get the offense moving in the right direction.

Beetle Bolden is the one returning guard with experience and he had the Mountaineers running efficiently and scored 21 points in 23 minutes. The problem was Bolden succumbed to cramps and couldn’t play during the stretch when Buffalo made their comeback. Let’s not forget that Buffalo has a very good, very experienced team that went into the NCAA Tournament last March as a 13 seed and beat fourth seeded Arizona by almost 20 points. Patience is the key here, because it will take some time to put this team together.

WVU will play in three games this week in the Myrtle Beach Classic in Conway, SC. Games are on Thursday, Friday and Sunday and will be broadcast on one of the ESPN channels.

The good news is the Mountaineer football team continued its push toward a Big 12 championship with an impressive 47-10 win over TCU last Saturday at a chilly Mountaineer Field. WVU did not come out of the gate strong as they opened the second quarter with a field goal to tie the game at 3-3. Kennedy McKoy scored on a 33 yard run with 5:09 left in the half to begin a surge of 30 points in less than seven minutes that saw the Mountaineers open a 33-3 lead.

The West Virginia defense earned big props holding the Horned Frogs to 222 total offensive yards including -7 rushing yards. WVU shook off a slow start to amass 535 total yards for the game.

Next up is Oklahoma State this Saturday at 3:30 p.m. on ABC. The Cowboys lost to rival Oklahoma 48-47 last Saturday when a two-point conversion failed with a minute left in the game.

Of course Oklahoma looms for the Mountaineers next Friday and a win over OSU this week assures WVU will be playing the Sooners for berth in the Big 12 championship.