They call him Sweat. It’s a nickname Kevin Noreen doesn’t really like.
Maybe now he can change it to Sweet … Sweet Kevin Noreen.
The way he tells it, he got the nickname his freshman year. See there was another Kevin here then. Last name was Jones, in case you forgot.
So they couldn’t call Noreen Kevin, and Lord didn’t he work hard, so it was that one of the trainers or equipment guys began calling his Sweat.
“At least I’m known for something,” he said.
As the sun came up this morning, he was known for a whole lot more as he stunned an unbeaten Virginia Tech team by scoring a career-high 14 points and grabbing a career-high 12 rebounds while also tying his career high in blocks with two.
Without it, West Virginia University would be in a state of shock today, having lost to Virginia Tech in the renewal of one of the most spirited rivalries they have. Instead, the Mountaineers were able to win the game, 68-67, on Juwan Staten’s driving layup and a last-second miss by Tech’s Erick Green, the game’s high scorer with 23 points.
It wasn’t even so much that Sweet Kevin Noreen scored 14 points. It was more how.
Noreen, you see, is a 6-foot, 10-inch forward, one who in a three-year career had taken a grand total of one 3-point shot … and missed it.
In this game Noreen hit of two of three 3-point shots he took.
“Not a lot of people know this, but I was No. 3 all-time in the state of Minnesota in 3-point shots,” he said.
He wasn’t bragging, for that isn’t his manner. It was so matter-of-factly that he could have been saying, “I just got back from walking my dog.”
But, as Casey Stengel used to say, you could look it up.
In 2010, at Minnesota’s Transitions Charter School in Minneapolis, he averaged 38.6 points, 16.5 rebounds, 5.8 assists, 3.9 steals and 3.2 blocks per game. For his career, he was Minnesota’s all-time leading scorer with 4,086 points and had 14 games of 40 or more and seven games of 50 or more.
Yes, it was a small high school.
But why was someone with his size at a small school shooting 3s?
“I played varsity in the seventh grade,” he said, again matter-of-factly, almost like “doesn’t everybody?”
He was 5-9 then and that’s when he became a 3-point shooter out of necessity. His shot isn’t a pretty one, being more like a 1950s one-hander from the outside, but it is … well, sweet.
Certainly, it didn’t come naturally and is product as is everything else in his game of hard work and … well, sweat.
His coach, Bob Huggins, said he doesn’t believe he’s had any player work any harder at his game than Noreen does.
“You can’t imagine how many shots this kid takes,” Huggins said, and he’s not just talking about in practice.
“He rooms with a manager, and he comes into the practice facility at night and has him rebound for him. He’s always in the practice facility,” Huggins said.
It is that kind of dedication, that kind of drive that is the reason he is still at West Virginia and still playing basketball, for his road to this moment was anything but easy. In 2010 he played seven games before going out for knee surgery, then in 2011 he played 23 games before going out with a broken left ankle against Pitt.
It is probably more than coincidence that the team was 15-7 when he broke his ankle and finished at 19-14, meaning it went 4-7 without him, losing in the first games of the Big East Tournament and the NCAAs.
What he’s done has impressed Huggins immensely.
“If kids out there want to be basketball players, he’s a good role model,” Huggins said. “He can’t play above the rim. He can’t rebound above the rim. But he gets out and shoots a thousand shots a day. I’ve had some great, great guys, but I don’t know if I had any who put in more time than him.”
Perhaps it goes back to a day when Huggins was recruiting him. Coming out of a small school there were some doubts and on this day he asked Huggins, “Can I play here?”
Huggins looked at him and said, “I can’t answer that. That’s on you.”
He took it heart and put in the sweat that it took to become Sweet Kevin Noreen.
Email Bob Hertzel at email@example.com. Follow on Twitter @bhertzel.
They call him Sweat. It’s a nickname Kevin Noreen doesn’t really like.
Polar Bear tennis sweeps East: PHOTOS
Last week East Fairmont’s girls’ tennis team beat Fairmont Senior, 4-3.
Wednesday at Fairmont State University, the Polar Bears returned the favor with a 5-2 win over their cross-town rival.
Alissa Link won No. 1 singles, 8-4. Morgan Hoke won No. 3 singles, 9-7. And Avery Towns won No. 4 singles, 8-5, for the Polar Bears.
Falcons set for spring game
Football is back … well, kind of.
Today at 7 p.m., Fairmont State will hold its annual Maroon & White spring game at Duvall-Rosier Field. The scoreboard won’t mean a whole lot since it’s little more than a glorified scrimmage. Instead, here are five things to watch during today’s game.
HERTZEL COLUMN: NCAA football is thriving in the digital age
The other day Baylor football coach Art Briles walked into his graduate assistants’ office and had to laugh at what he saw.
“There’s five guys sitting in there — a couple of GA’s and some office personnel — and they all are within a foot and a half of each other and not a one of them is talking to each other,” Briles said, describing the scene “Every one of them is on the phone.”
Hillberry commits to Wesleyan
Last year Emma Harrison and Kaitlyn Conaway teamed up with Alexis Hillberry to win several relay medals at the state track meet.
Though the two West Virginia Wesleyan runners are now in college, they helped to pass the baton to Hillberry Wednesday when she signed her National Letter of Intent to join her former teammates on the Bobcats’ track team.
O’Brien leads WVU baseball past Marshall
Catcher Cam O’Brien made a bid at becoming only the second West Virginia University player to hit for the cycle as the Mountaineers jumped on Marshall early and routed their in-state rival, 10-3, behind strong pitching from Corey Walter and a pair of relievers.
North, East softball earn blowout wins
The North Marion softball team was at it again Wednesday night.
Mattie Polling tripled and singled, starting pitcher Chelsi Latocha doubled and gave up just one hit as the Huskies rolled to another 3-inning mercy-rule victory over Lewis County, 18-1.
Simon, Bruce lead Reds past Bucs, 5-2
Alfredo Simon pitched into the seventh inning despite erratic control, Jay Bruce drove in a run for a fifth consecutive game and the Cincinnati Reds beat the Pittsburgh Pirates 5-2 Wednesday night.
Simon (3-1) worked 6 2-3 innings and allowed two runs on four hits and five walks while striking out four.
Pens squander lead, fall to Columbus
Brandon Dubinsky scored with 22.5 seconds left in regulation to force overtime and Nick Foligno’s wrist shot just inside the blue line 2:49 into the extra session gave the Columbus Blue Jackets a 4-3 victory over the Pittsburgh Penguins on Wednesday night.
Cousins Sansalone, Craig lead Polar Bears past B-U: PHOTOS
They say you don’t mess with family. Buckhannon-Upshur found that one out the hard way.
Mascaro signs with FSU
Gabi Mascaro is staying in Fairmont.
After considering several out-of-state colleges, the Fairmont Senior soccer standout signed her National Letter of Intent Tuesday to continue her career at Fairmont State University, an upstart program which will play its first games in 2015.
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