The Times West Virginian


December 17, 2013

Pkhakadze makes most of first minutes

FAIRMONT — 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 or follow on Twitter @MattWelch_TWV.

Text Only
  • Return to Mountain State exciting for new sports writer

    When I packed my belongings out of my Morgantown apartment in May, fresh with a journalism degree from West Virginia University, I thought I had ended a chapter of my life and closed the book on my experience inside the great Mountain State forever.
    It wasn’t until I received a phone call back in my hometown of Canton, Ohio, from the Times West Virginian that the idea of a return to the area became a possibility. The opportunity to begin my professional career in an area that I’ve become comfortable with for the past several years was too good to pass by.

    July 29, 2014

  • Black Diamond.jpg Black Diamond Express looking to add elite players

     Travel sports are said to be the cream of the crop for young athletes.
    Generally, youth are selected to play on travel league teams based upon a heightened skill level or an ability that exceeds the everyday athlete.
    That’s what the Black Diamond Express softball team in Morgantown is looking for, along with a few new elite players.

    July 29, 2014 1 Photo

  • Steelers’ Spence caps lengthy comeback

    The whistle blew and Sean Spence sprinted forward, each cathartic step distancing the linebacker from the horrific knee injury that threatened to end his NFL career before it even really began.

    July 28, 2014

  • All tickets claimed for LeBron’s homecoming show

    LeBron James’ Ohio hometown says fans quickly claimed the thousands of tickets available for the homecoming event expected to be his first public appearance in the state since announcing his return to the Cleveland Cavaliers.

    July 28, 2014

  • FSU to hold Falcon Fantasy Camp

    Ever want to be a college football coach? Now you’ll have your chance thanks to Fairmont State University’s Falcon Fantasy Camp.

    July 28, 2014

  • Lawyer: Wife plotted to take over Sterling trust

    A lawyer argued Monday that the estranged wife of Donald Sterling plotted to strip his client from the family trust that owned the Los Angeles Clippers after the head of the NBA said she couldn’t negotiate a sale of the franchise unless she owned all the shares.

    July 28, 2014

  • Were Bowlsby’s fears about college athletics’ future justified?

    I have never met or even talked to Bob Bowlsby, commissioner of the Big 12 Conference.
    But I did read a lengthy story on his 45-minute address to reporters last week on Media Day in Dallas, Texas. Among other things, Bowlsby forecast a startling change threatening the existence of intercollegiate athletics as we have known for these many, many years.

    July 28, 2014

  • Steelers’ Wheaton eyeing chance after tough rookie year

    Markus Wheaton realizes the pressure is there, but he doesn’t mind.

    July 28, 2014

  • Post 17 #7 Post 2 #12 mw.JPG Post 17 falls short in Area II championship

    Sometimes getting a bad game out of your system is what a team needs.
    Post 17 Fairmont is hoping that they’ve now gotten all of its bad games out of the way, falling to Post 2 Morgantown, 10-0, via a 7th inning mercy rule, crowning Morgantown Area II American Legion champions.
    After playing 18 innings the night before, Fairmont couldn’t seem to get anything going at East Fairmont High School Sunday afternoon.
    As rain clouds loomed over the field, so, too, did one settle in over Post 17’s offense, Fairmont collecting just four hits the entire game.
    “Definitely not one of our better games as a team,” Fairmont’s Austin Norman said of his team’s performance. “We’ll come up tomorrow, hit and get on the same page.”

    July 28, 2014 7 Photos

  • Harrison’s 4 hits leads Pirates past Rockies, 7-5

    Josh Harrison had four hits, including a tiebreaking homer, to help the Pittsburgh Pirates beat the Colorado Rockies 7-5 on Sunday.

    July 27, 2014

Featured Ads
NDN Sports
House Ads
NCAA Breaking News
NCAA Photos