One and done
by Jim Buzzerd
The West Virginia University men’s basketball team tipped off last Thursday’s round of the NCAA Basketball Tournament at 12:15 p.m. against Maryland. After 40 minutes of game action the Mountaineers became the first team eliminated from the round of 64 following a 67-65 loss to Maryland. Kedrian Johnson had a career effort in his final game as a Mountaineer. He almost single handedly kept WVU in the game with 27 points making all seven free throws, and 4-8 three point shooting and committed just one turnover.
Johnson had an open look at the buzzer to win the game, but the shot was short. To be fair, Johnson had to race the clock down court to get the shot off, so it was a runner, but he got a good look, nonetheless. Maryland went on to lose to top seed Alabama 73-51 on Saturday.
West Virginia led 19-6 early while the Terps struggled to gain their footing. It was during this first 10 minutes the Mountaineers failed to capitalize on Maryland mistakes that ultimately allowed Maryland to lead 32-30 at halftime. “We were careless with the ball,” WVU coach Bob Huggins said following the loss. “They made shots, and we didn’t match up very well.”
Now we all have to sit back and see where Huggins and his staff hit the transfer portal and how many current players go into the portal. Of the guys that played against Maryland Johnson, Erik Stevenson and Emmitt Matthews played their last game as a Mountaineer. Tre Mitchell, Jimmy Bell, Joe Toussaint, Seth Wilson, Pat Suemnick and James Okonkwo played Thursday and can all return.
Will they all come back? Are they all wanted back?
Changing gears, we learned over the weekend that first year women’s basketball coach Dawn Plitzuweit’s first season as West Virginia’s women’s basketball head coach will also be her last. “Earlier today (Saturday) I met with coach Plitzuweit, and she informed me she will be departing our basketball program to pursue an opportunity with the University of Minnesota,” WVU Director of Athletics Wren Baker said. “This move allows her to be closer to her home and her family, and we understand and respect that.
I don’t follow the WVU women all that closely, mostly following scores and watching occasionally. The vibe about Plitzuweit’s first season was very positive and the future looked bright. Plitzuweit was on the bench in College Park during the Mountaineers’ 75-62 loss in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. Plitzuweit did not accompany the team home on the team bus. It has been reported that on that trip home the players began to see Tweets saying their head coach would be the next coach at Minnesota.
Plitzuweit did not speak to her team until Saturday. Maybe there is more to the story than homesickness, or maybe it’s just that simple. Baker said there will be a national search for a replacement. There is currently a state native coaching at Division ll Glenville State that many would like to see get a shot.
Parkersburg native Kim Stephens is 158-21 in seven seasons. Last season Stephens coached Glenville to a 35-1 record and a Division ll National Championship. This season she has the Pioneers 33-2 and beat Tampa 78-68 in Monday night’s national quarterfinal and advanced to play Ashland on Wednesday. There has been some chatter that Stephens may be talking with Marshall about their head coaching position. Anyway, this will be Baker’s first hire, so this should bear watching.