The Times West Virginian

Mickey Furfari

March 21, 2014

Phillips made first basket ever in WVU Coliseum

MORGANTOWN — Levi Phillips, born and raised in Charleston, was an outstanding basketball player at West Virginia University in the early 1970s.

In fact, the 6-foot-3, 180-pound starting guard always will be remembered as the Mountaineer who scored the very first basket in the spanking new WVU Coliseum. That came on Dec. 1, 1970, in a memorable 113-92 victory against Colgate.

Phillips had played on a freshman team coached by Chuck Windsor in the old Field House (now known as Stansbury Hall) in 1969. That was a widely criticized requirement by the NCAA, keeping a student-athlete from a fourth varsity season as enjoyed today.

“Scoring the very first basket in the Coliseum remains my claim to fame,” Phillips chuckled during a recent visit to Morgantown. “I’ll cherish that forever.”

His varsity seasons were 1970-71, 71-72 and 73-74. In 1971-72, he played in only five games before being declared academically ineligible.

In those five games, he averaged 16.8 points per start as a junior.

The Charleston native’s career high scoring show netted 29 points in a 103-86 victory against East Carolina on Dec. 1, 1971 at the Coliseum.

For his three-year career, Phillips played in 65 games with 47 starts and logged a total of 1,518 minutes.

He made 283 field goals on 646 attempts (43.8 percent) and converted 95 of 160 free throws (59.4 percent). Phillips had 255 rebounds (4.6 per game) and 234 assists.

His total of 661 points average out at exactly 12.0 per game.

“I absolutely loved playing basketball at West Virginia,” Phillips said. “I’m a West Virginia boy. I was born and grew up in this state.

“I considered it an honor for me to play for our great university. And I enjoyed playing basketball for Charleston High School before coming to WVU.”

Lou Romano, one of West Virginia’s best known schoolboy coaches, was his mentor there. “We set the state record for most consecutive wins while I was at CHS, and it still stands,” Phillips smiled.

“We won 48 games in a row. That was from 1967 to 1969.”

Phillips, who still resides in the capitol city, had short stints in Texas for a while and California for a while and even Ohio. Then he came back to Charleston.

He’s now 63 years old.

Phillips, who graduated from WVU in 1974 with a degree in sociology, made a career in working as a mental health counselor in the Charleston area.

He spent about 15 years with that organization. During the last 10 years he has been an employee of the West Virginia Radio Corp. in Charleston.

In 2013, Phillips had to take medical retirement because of some health issues.

He and wife Cynthia have been married for 35 years. Their son Justin played basketball at Furman University in South Carolina.

What’s more, a grandson recently was selected to Scholastic Magazine’s top 100 middle school basketball players.

Text Only
Mickey Furfari
  • FURFARI COLUMN: Wyant talks about ‘Pappy’ Lewis and other items of interest

    I saved some other interesting observations from the recent interview with Fred Wyant which you may find worth reading.
    He believes a college football coach ought to recruit a quarterback he wants, give him some help, then turn virtually everything over to him and let him go.

    July 26, 2014

  • FURFARI COLUMN: Five major sports topics of interest to area fans

    Tom Hart, a widely known retired Morgantown High School administrator and coach, continues to excel as one of the nation’s top bowlers.
    However, he told me he faces knee-replacement surgery. So he’s going to find it necessary to give up bowling during a period of rehab. Hart has competed in an amazing total of 45 U.S. Bowling Congress tournaments during his outstanding career.

    July 25, 2014

  • FURFARI COLUMN: Ex-Mountaineer track star dies; WVU athlete arrests may be concern

    I’ve learned belatedly that James Gordon “Jim” Dial, an outstanding men’s track and field sprinter at West Virginia University during the late 1940s, has died.
    He was a native of Huntington who earned All-State first team status. The Huntington High star led all scorers in the state Track Championship meets in both 1946 and ’47.

    July 18, 2014

  • FURFARI COLUMN: Jedd Gyorko running and taking batting practice now

    A report on the internet at this week’s start indicated that Morgantown’s Jedd Gyorko might be ready finally to rejoin the San Diego Padre’s starting lineup.
    He has been on the Major League’s disabled list since June 3. Problems with his feet was given as the reason Gyorko was unable to keep playing.

    July 16, 2014

  • FURFARI COLUMN: WVU hopes to boost season-ticket sales

    West Virginia University’s season-ticket sales for football are the lowest in nine years just two months before this season’s first home game.
    That will be on Saturday, Sept. 6, against Towson State. The Big 12 portion of the schedule follows.

    July 10, 2014

  • FURFARI COLUMN: San Diego Padres’ Gyorko remains on disabled list

    Stringing together some odds and ends that may interest you:
    • Jedd Gyorko still is not active with the San Diego Padres. The former West Virginia University standout has been on the baseball’s disabled list for just over a month and hopes to return soon.

    July 9, 2014

  • FURFARI COLUMN: It had to feel like ‘Ol’ Home Week’ for the Tricketts

    It might have felt like a bit of “Ol’ Home Week’ to West Virginia University starting quarterback Clint Trickett.
    His parents, Rick and Tara Trickett, were in the Morgantown area and stopped by to spend some time with Clint. They still live in Tallahassee, Florida.

    July 3, 2014

  • FURFARI COLUMN: WVU football season-ticket sales approximately 26,000

    Stringing together some odds and ends about sports that may be of interest to you:
    • West Virginia University season-ticket sales for the 2014 football campaign have reached approximately 26,000. That’s some 2,000 since the count of 24,000 when the renewal deadline was reached.

    June 27, 2014

  • FURFARI COLUMN: USA Today has WVU 78th in football countdown from No. 128 to No. 1

    Like Las Vegas oddsmakers, USA Today’s sports writer Paul Myerberg doesn’t rank West Virginia highly in that newspaper’s early college football predictions in a copyrighted piece.
    In one of its thorough pieces, USA Today analyzed West Virginia in its No. 78 ranking among 128 college teams. That’s what is called a countdown from No. 128 to No. 1.

    June 24, 2014

  • FURFARI COLUMN: Las Vegas oddsmakers not kind to WVU in early listings

    Not long ago, I guessed that the West Virginia University football team will go 6-6 during the 2014 football season.
    That was based strictly on a hunch. It would show at least some improvement over last year’s pitiful 4-8 finish.

    June 22, 2014

House Ads
Featured Ads