The Times West Virginian

Bob Herzel

January 12, 2013

WVU men set for physical K-State

MORGANTOWN — There was, shall we say, a new hitch in West Virginia University’s giddy-up, as practice began Friday afternoon, a lot of shouting, hand-clapping and the kind of enthusiasm you wouldn’t expect from a team that two days earlier had traveled to Texas, played a bruising overtime game, had their travel plans scrambled and hadn’t returned home until 7 the next morning.

But there they were, riding the crest of that first-ever Big 12 victory, running through drills that were more like football Oklahoma drills than anything Dr. James Naismith ever had in mind as they readied themselves for yet another war of attrition at 1:30 p.m. today at the Coliseum against a physical Kansas State team that leads the nation in offensive rebounding.

Off to one side assistant coach Ron Everhart was rolling balls toward the sidelines as players dived after them, ignoring the floor burns that would hurt later, while driving down the lane while lowering his shoulder and delivering a charge was video coordinator Josh Eilert, who stands about 6-5 and is put together like a tight end.

Things, it seemed, had changed for the Mountaineers since they set sail for Texas and returned.

“We were tired; guys came with great energy and enthusiasm. I’m not sure a couple of weeks ago we would have had that. We might have turned the page here,” forward Kevin Noreen said.

In many ways, he and his physical style of play were responsible for that change, for taking a team that had no identity and no direction and helping it learn that it could be physical, could be tough and could overcome some of its shortcomings this way.

Kansas State comes into the building ranked in both polls, although they aren’t very much in agreement where, holding down No. 18 and No. 23 spots with a 12-2 record.

They, of course, once were coached by Bob Huggins, who spent a year there before WVU came calling him back home, and he turned the team over to his assistant Frank Martin, who preached the same physical brand of basketball that he preaches.

Martin left after last season and turned the team over to Bruce Weber, who isn’t exactly the same kind of coach but who has players who play that brand of ball, meaning this game figures to be a lot of body slamming.

“Last year we went two overtimes,” center Deniz Kilicli said. “They play the same kind of basketball. After Coach Martin left they changed a little bit. They have a bunch of sets they run, but they still rebound the ball well and are really aggressive on the offensive end of the floor.”

“They still stick to a lot of what Coach Martin taught them. They are still tough. They get after the ball hard,” Noreen noted.

Senior Rodney McGruder is the leading scorer, averaging 14.7 points a game as the Wildcats’ only double-figure scorer, while Thomas Gipson is a power rebounder who makes life difficult under the basket.

Huggins knows what his team is up against.

“McGruder’s shooting the ball a lot better. He shot it before, but he’s a lot more consistent,” he said. “They lead the country in offensive rebounding, so we have to keep them off the glass.”

Shooting is where WVU has to find some improvement. Even with the victory over Texas, scoring points was not exactly a positive.

Shooting from the floor and 3-point shooting have been producing anything but highlight reels.

In the victory over the Longhorns, the Mountaineers missed their first 14 3-point shots and were in danger of ending a streak of 436 games making a 3 until Noreen, who is the team’s best 3-point threat even though he is a power forward, hit one with just under 4 minutes left.

Even in Big 12 play now at 1-1 and with still a rugged schedule ahead, including a made-for-TV trip to Purdue next week, home games such as this one grow in importance after a rough start.

Email Bob Hertzel at bhertzel@hotmail.com or follow him on Twitter@bhertzel.

1
Text Only
Bob Herzel
  • HERTZEL COLUMN: Big 12 provides plenty of optimism

    This past week the Big 12 held its annual media gathering in Dallas and served up a heaping portion of optimism for the 2014 season that is now upon us, West Virginia University opening its preseason practices on Thursday.
    This is a time of year when no one has lost a game, not even Charlie Weis at Kansas, and it’s a time of year when opinions are more plentiful than tattoos in an NFL locker room.

    July 27, 2014

  • HERTZEL COLUMN: WVU needs White to follow in former receivers’ footsteps

    A year ago Clint Trickett took a lot of grief as the once potent West Virginia offense came unraveled, but there is more that than meets the eye.
    The criticism was not unfounded, of course, although behind each incomplete pass there was the pain Trickett was suffering through to throw it, his rotator cuff in need of surgery.

    July 26, 2014

  • HERTZEL COLUMN: O’Toole joins long list of eccentric WVU kickers, punters

    The star of the Big 12’s annual football media day wasn’t a star at all.
    He intrigued the media far more than Bob Stoops, the coach of preseason favorite Oklahoma, and more than Baylor quarterback Bryce Petty, the preseason player of the year.

    July 25, 2014

  • WVU, N.C. State to meet in football

    Following a trend of creating non-conference games against regional opponents, West Virginia University has reached agreement with North Carolina State to play a home-and-home football series in 2018 and 2019.
    The Mountaineers are scheduled to play N.C. State in Raleigh on Sept. 15, 2018, and then play host to the Wolfpack on Sept. 14, 2019.

    July 24, 2014

  • HERTZEL COLUMN: ‘Cheating pays’ remark should draw attention

    When Bob Bowlsby, the outspoken commissioner of the Big 12, presented his opening-day picture of the future of college sports in Dallas for the annual media day gathering, his bleak comments were not unexpected.

    July 24, 2014

  • Holgorsen’s program hits turning point

    You can almost sense, as you watch West Virginia University football coach Dana Holgorsen sit before the gathered Big 12 media contingent answering questions in the Omni Hotel in Arlington, Texas, that he senses his program has reached a turning point.

    July 23, 2014

  • Big 12 Media Days Foo_time(1).jpg Trickett’s play key factor for Mountaineers’ success

     In the end, it comes down to the quarterback.
    Always has with Dana Holgorsen, always will.
    Quarterback is the offense with the West Virginia University coach. When he does well, the team wins – almost always.
    When he does poorly, the team doesn’t stand much of a chance.

    July 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • Saban, family happy at Alabama

    Alabama football coach Nick Saban, whose team opens the season against West Virginia in Atlanta on Aug. 30, denied receiving or turning down this offseason an offer of $100 million to coach Texas, indicating he planned to finish his career as coach of the Crimson Tide.

    July 18, 2014

  • HERTZEL COLUMN: ‘Quarterback child prodigy’ comes to WVU amidst very high expectations

    Has West Virginia football coach Dana Holgorsen finally put the arrow he needs in his quiver with the commitment received Wednesday from high school quarterback David Sills, who is a rather extraordinary story and may also just be a rather extraordinary quarterback?

    July 18, 2014

  • WVU kicker Molinari ‘All-American boy’

    West Virginia kicker Mike Molinari may not be an All-American but he is an All-American boy.
    He was honored for that on Wednesday when the Allstate Insurance Company and the American Football Coaches Association announced the West Virginia redshirt senior kicker/punter Michael Molinari is a nominee for the Allstate AFCA Good Works Team.

    July 16, 2014

House Ads
Featured Ads