Musings of a Mountain Man - WVU Football, WVU Basketball, News - Mountaineer Sports

Musings of a Mountain Man

Random thoughts while our daughter is playing a CD of "Bohemian Rhapsody" by Queen in an adjoining room. We don't have the heart to tell her we got sick of that song 30 years ago and couldn't care less if Scaramouche does the fandango.
   NOW THAT QUEEN VOCALIST FREDDIE MERCURY has put us in a bad mood from beyond, let us mention some other people and things were are sick of:
   --The "Airball" basketball chant when an opposing shooter misses the rim. It was clever in 1979. Not anymore.
   --The phrases, "It is what it is," "At the end of the day" and "Bottom line."
   --The Marshall football series. Just one more game.
   --The Big East. Just four more months.
   --Rick "15 Seconds" Pitino.
   --Oil conspiracy theories
   --Stories about the Chevy Volt
   --Notre Dame. What an arrogant sense of entitlement.
   --Pitt. They can be replaced.
   --Kobe Bryant. See Notre Dame.

   TV PEOPLE AND SHOWS WE ARE SICK OF: J Lo, Maury Povich, Kirk Herbstreit, Joy Behar, Dennis Miller, Whoopi Goldberg, Simon Cowell, Jon Stewart, Sean Hannity, Bill Maher, Wolf Blitzer, Billy Crystal, all court shows -- especially Judge Judy, TMZ, "Glee," William Shatner, Joe Scarborough, Jim Rome and Max Kellerman.
   "Friends" reruns, "Seinfeld" reruns, Piers Morgan, Rachel Maddow, Sharon Osbourne, Stuart Scott "cooler than the other side of the pillow" references, Flo the Progressive Insurance bimbo, workout equipment infomercials, male enhancement commercials, Lee Corso, Lou Holtz, Bobby Knight and Dick Vitale, baby! -- among a lineup of others.
   We won't even start on radio or we'd be here all day.
   Bottom line.
   WE ALSO ARE SICK OF ruminating about single-digit losses for WVU's basketball team in games it coulda, shoulda, woulda won this year.
   Looking back over the schedule heading into the season's final regular season contest Saturday at South Florida, it's irritating to note how many close games WVU has lost this season down the stretch -- Baylor, UConn, Syracuse, Pitt, Notre Dame, Louisville and Marquette.
   We would be remiss not to mention the close games the Mountaineers have won, including overtime wins over Kansas State, Missouri State and Providence and a down-to-the-wire victory over Cincinnati.
   STILL, THOUGH, good teams -- championship teams -- win most of the close games they play in a given season.
   If the Mountaineers were 7-4 right now in tight games instead of 4-7, they would be 21-9 instead of 18-12 and would be a lock for the NCAA basketball tournament and have a higher seed in the Big East tournament.
   But 4-7 and 18-12 it is, leaving it fairly apparent that neither Freddie Mercury nor WVU is going to be singing the Queen song, "We Are The Champions" this year.
   THE MOUNTAINEERS teased us a bit this year with a schedule that was backloaded with most of its toughest league games toward the end of it, giving early hope that this team may be better than expected, then killing those thoughts with a 3-7 slide the past 10 games.
   But all is not lost.
   If WVU can beat streaking South Florida in Tampa, we like its NCAA tournament chances with 19 regular-season wins.
   Much of that would be because the Mountaineers 2011-12 schedule is ranked among the 10 toughest in the country and strength of schedule is one of the key factors considered by the NCAA tournament selection committee.
   A WIN AT SOUTH FLORIDA followed by a first-round win in next week's Big East tournament would give WVU 20 wins and virtually assure it a ticket to the Big Dance.
   A loss to USF would mean the Mountaineers likely would have to win two games in the Big East tournament to ensure an NCAA bid.
   A first-round win would be an absolute necessity.
   EVEN IF WVU DOES MAKE THE NCAAS, the question remains if the 'Eers have enough talent on hand to go very far.
   To this point, Head Coach Bob Huggins' squad has lacked the talent, cohesiveness, clutch play -- what have you -- to finish more than .500 in a Big East that is not as good overall as the Big East WVU won two years ago en route to the Final Four.
   If this year's team won two NCAA games and made it to the Sweet Sixteen, we would consider that a major accomplishment.
   MOST OF US WOULD AGREE that this team has not performed at the level of Huggins' four previous WVU teams.
   Some of that can be traced to a drop in the depth of talent on this team, a situation exacerbated by key injuries to young big men Pat Forsythe and Kevin Noreen.
   How the team got to this point talent-wise can and has been debated.
   We suppose that some of the responsibility can be affixed on the head coach, but much of it can be traced to a combination of bad luck and tragic circumstance that gutted Huggins' promising recruiting class of 2010.
   STILL, THE FACTS ARE THAT this team is not as skilled as Huggins' other WVU teams.
   Yes, much or most of that talent was left by John Beilein when he bailed to Michigan.
   So what?
   Huggins won big with it.
   Now it is up to him to go out and find some more players and develop the many young players he has on the team.
   WE ARE CONFIDENT Huggins will rectify any talent shortage sooner than later.
   The guy hates to lose worse than any of us and history show that he hasn't lost much, either.
   He has more than 700 wins and has sent 15 players to the National Basketball Association.
   It takes a pretty good recruiter to gather that much talent over the years.
   IT'S POSSIBLE THAT WVU may struggle next season, at least early, while Huggins and his staff try to replace an average of about 36 points and close to 14 rebounds a game it is losing from this year's team with the graduation of All-American candidate Kevin Jones at power forward and Darryl "Truck" Bryant at point guard.
   Next year's team will be young again due to the lost recruiting class from two years ago, of which Noreen is the only one left; and the underachieving class from three years ago, of which starting forward Deniz Kilicli is the only one still in the program.
   The talent will be better top to bottom next year, with the addition of anticipated transfers Juwan Staten at point guard and Aaric Murray at center.
   ADD TO THE MIX Kilicli, Noreen, Forsythe and freshmen guard contributors Jabarie Hinds, Gary Browne, Aaron Brown and Paul Williamson and a well-regarded incoming freshman class that includes highly recruited forward Elijah Macon and shooting guards Terry Henderson and Eron Harris.
   It would help immensely if Macon and at least Henderson or Harris can step in and contribute.
   If that happens, WVU may be pretty good next year.
   Either way, the Big 12 better watch out for WVU two years from now.
   OK, MARQUETTE HEAD COACH BUZZ WILLIAMS undoubtedly was annoying when he did a dance (if that's what you want to call it) to "Country Roads" after Marquette held on to beat WVU, 61-60, in Morgantown a week ago.
   However, we find the overwrought reaction by some WVU fans a little disingenuous.
   We suspect that many of these same fans found it humorous when some WVU players mocked Kentucky star John Wall's signature dance after the Mountaineers beat the Wildcats to advance to the NCAA Final Four two years ago.
   WE SAY THIS although we despise the Kentucky basketball program like no one can unless you have lived near its fans for a length of time.
   The program and its fans can put a capital O on obnoxious and we don't shed tears for either when they lose.
   Tell you the truth, we thought rubbing in the Wall dance was a little amusing, too, if only because it was aimed at Kentucky.
   JUST POINTING OUT, though, that if you dish it out, you should learn to take it and there is little doubt many a member of the Mountaineer Nation knows how to dish it out.
   We aren't claiming that it was the classiest thing Williams could have done, but the guy apologized and it wasn't like he did a moonwalk or anything.
   That said, we can't imagine Huggins doing something like that under any circumstance.
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