The Times West Virginian

Bob Herzel

January 18, 2010

Few leads safe in today’s college game

MORGANTOWN — The only thing less certain in college basketball than a 10-point lead with 20 minutes to go is a 20-point lead with 10 minutes to go.

The way teams are playing now, and West Virginia is at the head of the class, has gotten to the point that the first 35 minutes of a game are as meaningless as the start in a marathon.

The only reason to come early is to socialize or have a hot dog or two, because game after game is transforming from a runaway to a nail-biter. Warnings ought to be posted in all arenas across America, “Leave Early at Your Own Risk.”

Doesn’t seem to matter who’s playing or where the game is, the early action is nothing but a mirage.

“The runs in this league have been amazing,” Notre Dame Coach Mike Brey said during the Big East Conference coaches’ call earlier this week.

He should have known. He possessed a 20-point lead over West Virginia, only to have the Mountaineers take it down to the wire.

“I walk out at halftime up 20 and I’m worried to death,” Brey admitted.

And he really can’t understand why.

“We’d just played the best half of basketball we had played in a few years,” he said.

West Virginia-Syracuse on Saturday turned into the same thing. The Orange had put the game away, reached the point where Red Auerbach would have been lighting up his victory cigar. This one was so far gone that the fat lady was in the second verse when WVU decided it was time to play.

Syracuse already had the bus warming up outside the Coliseum. It was 65-55 when Wes Johnson converted one of two free throws.

The scoreboard clock showed 1:25 to play.

Who knew Truck Bryant still had nine more points in him? Who knew Da’Sean Butler would suddenly come to life, hit a shot, make a steal, feed Dalton Pepper for a layup, feed Bryant, then hit a 3 off Bryant’s assist?

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Bob Herzel
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    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

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    July 25, 2014

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    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

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    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

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    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

  • HERTZEL COLUMN: Smallwood puts future in jeopardy

    The last thing West Virginia’s struggling football program needed as twilight was setting on Bastille Day in Morgantown was to have one of its own whisked off to the North Central Regional Jail on a fugitive warrant from another state, especially a player who had figured to play a key role in the resurrection of a program gone bad.

    July 16, 2014

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