Wednesday, May 24, 2017

By Dave Ackermann (The Orchestrator)

(Feature Photo Credit: Denny Medely, USA Sports)

Okay okay, I can understand all of this heartbroken talk from some Mountaineer fans and the general wearing of one’s heart on their sleeve, but please stop. Why? Because Bob Huggins has the WVU Men’s Basketball Program at the height of it’s success in program history. Yes, it would be nice to win a National Championship, for sure, but that is no reason to act like you are not winning big games and appearing in the top ten rankings.

Yes a National Championship, in the eyes of some, would make WVU Men’s Basketball an elite program, but I beg to disagree. An elite program is one that competes at the highest levels and wins not every big game, but many of them. Add to that WVU has competed in some of the best conferences in college Basketball, and notably when those conferences (The Big East and the Big 12) in latter years just might have been and are some of the best and toughest basketball conferences around.

Let’s look at some history:

WVU has been to 29 NCAA Tournaments. The overall record is 29-29 (if my math is right taken from the WVUSports.com History). In the past 15 seasons, WVU has appeared in 10 NCAA Tournaments and the record is 16-10, includes 6 Sweet 16’s, Two Elite 8’s and a Final Four. Previous to that, WVU made it to only 3 Sweet 16’s, including 1 Elite 8 and 1 Final Four in all of the programs history.

Consider that only Bob Huggins has double digit wins (11) in the NCAA tournament and has taken the Mountaineers to the NCAA Tournament in 8 out of his 10 seasons at WVU (see below):

Coaches with NCAA Appearances:

Coach               years coached  appearances   NCAA W/L record

  • Fred Schaus            6                       6                       6-6
  • George King            5                       3                       2-3
  • Bucky Waters          4                       2                       0-2
  • Gale Catlett           24                       8                       5-8
  • John Beilein            5                       2                       5-2
  • Bob Huggins       10                       8                      11-8
  •              All            54                     29                     29-29    

 

Jevon Carter (2) defends Jawun Evans (12) on the inbounds on February 18, 2017. (Photo Credit: Kelsie LeRose, BGS)

Jevon Carter (2) defends Jawun Evans (12) on the inbounds on February 18, 2017.
(Photo Credit: Kelsie LeRose, BGS)

So what else plays into my opinion. WVU has the best defense in the entire country and there is little doubt about that with all of the stats supporting this statement (see below):

Nationally:

  • West Virginia is #1 in Steals per game (10.0)
  • West Virginia is #1 in Turnover Margin (7.7)
  • West Virginia is #3 in Scoring Margin (14.8)
  • West Virginia is 5th in Offensive Rebounds (14.43)
  • West Virginia allows opponents only 66.6 points per game

Big 12 Conference:

  • West Virginia is #1 in Steals
  • West Virginia is #1 in Scoring Margin
  • West Virginia is #2 in Blocked Shots
  • West Virginia is #2 in Scoring Defense
  • West Virginia is #2 in Assist to Turnover Margin
  • West Virginia is #3 in FG% Defense
  • West Virginia is #3 in Scoring Offense
  • West Virginia is #5 in 3PT FG% defense

Furthermore, WVU has had a stronger defense than most for several years now. Press Virginia was built over at least 5 or 6 years of recruiting specific players with specific skills and developing the stamina and depth to make it work. Needless to say, nobody else in all of college basketball at the division I level has made this investment. No program has yet to duplicate the Bob Huggins created “Press Virginia” full court and half court pressure that lasts for the entire contest. But several are known to be attempting to duplicate it now, due to its success.

Sagaba Konate (50), Kendal Yancy (5) and Esa Ahmad (23) line up for free throws during  WVU's 63-53 win over Texas on Thursday, March 9, 2017. (Photo Credit: Kelsie LeRose, BGS)

Sagaba Konate (50), Kendal Yancy (5) and Esa Ahmad (23) line up for free throws during WVU’s 63-53 win over Texas on Thursday, March 9, 2017.
(Photo Credit: Kelsie LeRose, BGS)

One also has to admit that this team returns many seasoned players next season as only starting forwards Nathan Adrian, Brandon Watkins, 6th man award winner Tarik Philip and reserve guard Teyvon Myers will be lost from the current 11 man rotation. WVU also loses senior reserve guard James Long. However, Junior starting guards Jevon Carter and Daxter Miles return along with Junior Post forward Elijah Macon and Sophomore forward Esa Ahmad.

WVU also used true freshmen in that 11 man rotation this season in forwards Lamont West, Sagaba Konate and Maciej Bender. Another true freshman guard, Chase Harler also saw some action at shooting guard. A couple of redshirt freshmen also saw some action in shooting guard James “Beetle” Bolden and 7 foot forward Logan Routt. By my count, that is 10 players with playing experience and veteran leadership that will figure strongly in next year’s 11 man rotation. Indeed, there are also some great recruits coming in to bolster the roster as well:

  • 4 star Derek Culvert, 6’10 PF out of Warren, OH
  • 3 star Teddy Allen, 6’5 SF out of Boys Town, NE (State Player of the Year)
  • 3 star Brandon Knapper, 6’1 PG out of South Charleston, WV
  • 3 star D’Ángelo Hunter, 6’7 SF out of Navarro CC
  • 2 star Wesley Harris. 6’8 SF out of Lawson State CC

So if you feel heartbroken that your program lost in the sweet 16, get over it fast. Why? Because Bob Huggins and his staff and his players are going to go right back to work in the off-season, putting their team in the best position possible to win. And yes, that means to win a National Championship. So West Virginia fans should are proud, just like they always are, of their Mountaineers. You have a great basketball coach and coaching staff. You have great players and your getting great recruits. You have top shelf basketball facilities. West Virginia is winning folks, players are graduating at high rates and that’s all that matters.

Raise your head high because you have an elite basketball program.

Watch this space…….

 

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