The Times West Virginian

Mickey Furfari

December 19, 2013

FURFARI COLUMN: Schaus and King developed WVU-Purdue basketball series

MORGANTOWN — There’s a West Virginia University angle of pride of the past to Sunday’s clash with Purdue in a men’s basketball game at the Coliseum.

The late Fred Schaus, whose 146-37 record as the Mountaineers’ head coach from 1955-60, remains by far the winningest record percentage-wise in school history, piloted WVU’s Golden Era of men’s basketball.

Schaus also coached the top two Mountaineer cagers considered the best ever here. Both were All-America performers under Schaus, Hot Rod Hundley first and then Jerry West back-to-back in fantastic three-year stints.

Those two, both from Kanawha County, still own numerous records as complete all-around players. However, West took the game much more seriously than Hot Rod, the nation’s acclaimed “Clown Prince” of college basketball.

The two later were teammates on the Los Angeles Lakers teams coached by Schaus, an Ohio native.

But from 1973-78 Fred Schaus was back coaching collegiately as the men’s basketball mentor at Purdue University in Lafayette, Ind. He guided the Boilermakers to a 164-60 record, including a National Invitation Tournament championship in 1974.

The late George King, who had been Schaus’ first full-time WVU assistant in the 1950s, succeeded him as Mountaineer head coach from 1961-66, gave up coaching at Purdue and became the A.D.

So King talked Schaus into taking over as leader of the Boilermakers on the hardwood.

So that’s how this series developed involving first King and then a reunion of their WVU relationship.

The Boilermakers (9-3) and the Mountaineers (7-4) meet at 1 p.m. Sunday, which is “Family Day.” Tickets can be ordered online at wvugame.com.

Matt Wells, assistant athletic director for marketing and sales, is hopeful that there will be a good-sized crowd of several thousand fans for this intersectional game at the Coliseum.

For $60, fans can purchase four game tickets, four Cokes, four hot dogs and a bucket of popcorn. That’s truly a real bargain for a men’s basketball game at WVU.

While the action will be on ESPNU, not all channel subscribers get that as part of basic contracts.

Purdue leads the WVU series by a 6-1 margin. The Mountaineers’ lone win came in 2011 by a 68-64 score in Morgantown.

Among the spectators at Sunday’s game will be Barbara Schaus, Fred’s widow, who remains a native Morgantown resident. She was proud to have served as first lady of men’s basketball both at WVU, the Schauses’ alma mater, and in the 1970s at Purdue.

West Virginia, which has shot 50 percent or better five times from the field this season, has been idle since last Saturday’s 74-64 win against Marshall.

Purdue is coming off a 79-50 victory over outmatched Maryland-Eastern Shore on Tuesday night at home.

Eron Harris, 6-foot-3 sophomore guard, leads the Mountaineers in scoring with 18.5 points per game. He also is tops in 3-point goals with 32.

Harris has hit double-digits in 10 games.

Juwan Staten, 6-foot-1 junior guard, is averaging 16.3 points for WVU. He’s also making 48.2 percent of his shots from the field.

Staten also is the leader in fewest turnovers with only 19 in 11 contests.

Coach Bob Huggins likely will be looking for more help again from Brandon Watkins, the 6-foot-9, 235-pound freshman from Decatur, Ga.

He had 12 points and 11 rebounds and was named MVP in the Capital Classic win against Marshall.

He played a career-high 25 minutes.

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Mickey Furfari
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