It took a year and a half, but his day finally came.
Nerves set in just a little bit, but the 6-foot-2 guard from the country of Georgia kept shooting.
Otar Pkhakadze has sat on the bench since last season, watching his teammates win and wishing he could help them when they lost.
“Every loss I went back home and I couldn’t go to sleep. It sucked because I couldn’t help them,” he said of the previous season. “It’s really, really upsetting when you sit on the bench and you want to help them but you can’t do it. It’s really hard.”
Last night, in Fairmont State’s 114-48 romp over Ohio-Eastern, Pkhakadze was able to celebrate for the first time with his name on the stat sheet.
“Last night I didn’t get any sleep,” Pkhakadze said with a smile after the game. “I got about three hours of sleep. I couldnt wait. I was like, three hours, two hours, and when I touched the ball the first time, my heart was going crazy. After I touched it, I dribbled and everything calmed down. I was just excited to play.”
Pkhakadze was ineligible to play the first half of the season, but head coach Jerrod Calhoun wanted to get him on the court as soon as he could.
With a lesser opponent like Ohio-Eastern coming to town, it was the perfect opportunity.
“Tonight was really about getting Otar and Tommy Scales back,” Calhoun said after the game. “It gives us a few more bodies.”
The true freshman guard received the start on a night where Calhoun put the emphasis on the depth of the team.
Pkhakadze finished the game with 10 points, all of which he scored in the first half, on 3-of-9 shooting, hitting two from deep. He also added four rebounds, four assists and four steals.
He put together a complete game in his team-leading 26 minutes on the court, but Calhoun expected nothing less.
“You can’t simulate officials. You can’t simulate the crowd,” Calhoun said. “(Pkhakadze’s) been practicing here for a year and a half now. He’s a good player. He’s very skilled. He has some European exposure over there in Georgia. He played for his country, which is a great honor for him. He’s going to get better and better.”
The playing time, Calhoun said, was very beneficial for the young guys like Pkhakadze.
“We wanted to sub five in, five out every five minutes,” Calhoun said of the gameplan. “Otar played 26 minutes, Shamm (Wells) played 26, but for the most part, everyone played about 15 to 17. We knew we were going to balance the minutes out tonight.”
With Pkhakadze getting the brunt of the work tonight, he feels that it was very helpful in getting him back to game speed.
“I needed to get back in a game,” Pkhakadze said. “I had to sit out a year and a half. I mean I played this summer on my national team, but still, these fans, I’ve been watching them for a year and a half and how they root for our team. I needed to get out there.”
Even when a couple of his three-point shots rimmed in and out, the young guard kept shooting, unphased by the misses.
“I needed to get in a rhythm, which I did today. That was why I was a couple shots off, but it really got me in a rhythm and I need to get ready for Thursday,” he said.
Thursday brings the real test for Pkhakadze and the rest of the Falcon team as they host No. 2 Bellarmine at Joe Retton Arena.
Pkhakadze says he’ll be ready, though.
“(The Bellarmine game) is exactly why you play college basketball,” he said. “(Coach Calhoun) is expecting us to play hard, play defense and play as a team.”
With guard Ke’Chaun Lewis possibly missing Thursday’s game with an injury, Pkhakadze could see a good deal of minutes in the team’s biggest matchup so far this season.
Welcome to college basketball, young man.
Email Matt Welch at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow on Twitter @MattWelch_TWV.
It took a year and a half, but his day finally came.
- Fairmont State Sports
FSU’s rally falls short against ’Toppers
Twenty minutes into Saturday night’s Mountain East Conference semifinal-round showdown between top-seeded and No. 3 ranked West Liberty and fourth-seeded Fairmont State here at the Charleston Civic Center the Falcons looked down and out.
Cooper leads FSU past Bobcats, 70-62
Brendan Cooper played liked a first-team all-league selection even though he strangely wasn't, and Chase Morgan did what he does best in the game's final 1:18 – hit shots.
The result was a 70-62 Fairmont State victory over fifth-seeded West Virginia Wesleyan Friday evening in the quarterfinals of the Mountain East Conference Men's Basketball Tournament at the Charleston Civic Center.
West Liberty, Glenville, Charleston advance to MEC semi-final
Charleston out-lasted Wheeling Jesuit, 91-85, in overtime in the first quarterfinal of the Mountain East Conference Tournament presented by GoMart on Friday afternoon.
Andre Harris, who finished with a game-high 22 points, picked up a steal and then converted a traditional three-point play to put Wheeling Jesuit up 76-73 with :21 seconds left.
Cold-shooting Lady Falcons fall to State
In its biggest game of the season to date Fairmont State suffered its worst performance.
Fifth-seeded FSU shot a season-low 29.5 percent from the field (18-of-61), including a dismal 8-of-33 showing (24.2 percent) in the second half and as a result fell, 71-59, to fourth-seeded West Virginia State in the quarterfinals of the first Mountain East Conference Women's Basketball Tournament here Thursday night at the Charleston Civic Center.
Falcons hope for tournament run
Since day one, making another post-season run has been at the top of Fairmont State coach Jerrod Calhoun’s mind.
Last season the Falcons went three-for-four in the WVIAC Tournament, falling to West Liberty in the tournament’s final game. The strong run, though, propelled the Falcons into the NCAA Tournament as a No. 4 seed.
FSU women roll in MEC Tourney opener
Fifth-seeded Fairmont State didn't waste any time Tuesday night punching its ticket for Charleston and earning a berth in the Mountain East Conference Women's Basketball Tournament quarterfinals Thursday at the Charleston Civic Center.
Wimbush named MEC Freshman of the Year
Thomas Wimbush has been named Mountain East Conference Freshman of the Year, as announced by the league office this afternoon. Wimbush also joined teammates Stevie Browning and Brendan Cooper on the MEC second team.
FSU women to open MEC Tournament
When Fairmont State’s women’s basketball team toppled Shepherd, 103-80, Saturday, coach Steve McDonald didn’t know who his team would face.
Falcons edge Shepherd, earn first-round bye: PHOTOS
The scenario Saturday afternoon on Senior Day for Fairmont State's men's basketball team in its regular-season finale against visiting Shepherd University was pretty simple.
Win and receive an automatic first-round bye in the upcoming Mountain East Conference Basketball Tournament. Lose and host a first-round game Tuesday night at the Joe Retton Arena.
Innocent, Garrett star as Lady Falcons roll: PHOTOS
Saturday afternoon on Senior Day at the Joe Retton Arena Fairmont State senior Brianna Innocent was anything but that against visiting Shepherd University.
The 6-foot-1 backup center came off the bench and torched the Lady Rams in the regular-season finale for 27 points and a career-high 16 rebounds to help lead FSU to a 103-80 victory.
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