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.
North Marion goes 2-for-2; Fairmont Senior 0-for-2 in tournament
A day after an 11-0 mercy-rule victory at Philip Barbour, the North Marion Huskies were at it again.
Chelsi Latocha threw three no-hit innings, Shelby King drove in five runs in the first inning and the Huskies rolled to a 20-0 victory over the winless Fairmont Senior Polar Bears in the Diamond Dawg Tournament at North Marion High School.
Brewers’ Lohse beats Pirates again
Kyle Lohse pitched effectively into the seventh inning, Carlos Gomez homered and the Milwaukee Brewers beat the Pittsburgh Pirates 5-3 Friday night.
Lohse (3-1) improved to 11-2 in his career against the Pirates, allowing one earned run in a win against them for the second time in six days.
Bucs trade for Mets’ Ike Davis
The New York Mets traded slumping first baseman Ike Davis to the Pittsburgh Pirates on Friday night, parting ways with a power hitter who proved to be too inconsistent at the plate.
Pittsburgh sent minor league right-hander Zack Thornton and a player to be named to New York for the 27-year-old Davis.
Penguins wary of Blue Jackets after Game 1 escape
Sidney Crosby is used to the attention. It comes with the territory when you’re the best hockey player in the world.
Still, the Pittsburgh Penguins star knows the spotlight becomes more acute in the Stanley Cup playoffs.
East’s Postlewait, North’s Latocha toss no-hitters
Tori Postlewait made a deal with her great-uncle, Kenny Carpenter, before her freshman season.
If the Bees’ pitcher tossed a no-hitter, Carpenter promised to give her $20.
Well, it took four years, but it’s finally time for Postlewait’s great-uncle to pay up.
East tennis splits with Polar Bears
Fairmont Senior and East Fairmont split a pair of tennis matches Thursday, with Fairmont Senior winning the boys’ match and East Fairmont taking the girls’ competition.
In the Bees’ 6-1 girls’ victory, Cara Laswell took second singles, 8-2. Erica Gorman won third singles, 8-1. And Carrington Reese won fourth singles, 8-3.
HERTZEL COLUMN: Under pressure, NCAA decides to change rules
At first glance, it appears that they do not go hand-in-hand, a pair of rules changes the NCAA’s Legislative Council approved this week, sending them off for what seems to be smooth sailing toward becoming rules.
McCutchen, Alvarez lead Pirates over Brewers
Andrew McCutchen hit his first homer of the season and drove in three runs, Pedro Alvarez had a three-run shot and pinch-hitter Josh Harrison broke a tie with a long ball in the seventh inning as the Pittsburgh Pirates handed the Milwaukee Brewers their first road loss, 11-2 on Thursday night.
Means, WVU baseball shut out Oklahoma
Junior left-hander John Means of the WVU baseball team threw eight shutout innings and the Mountaineers had a five-run first inning en route to a 7-0 victory over Oklahoma on Thursday evening at L. Dale Mitchell Park.
The Mountaineers (18-15, 3-6 Big 12) broke a six-game Big 12 losing streak after being swept by TCU and Oklahoma State in back-to-back weekends. WVU had 16 hits and did not make an error for the second-straight game.
FURFARI COLUMN: Dr. Graber disagrees with Gee’s stance on Turnbull firing
Dr. Stephen Graber, an associate professor at the West Virginia University School of Medicine, is among the latest WVU teachers to deplore Oliver Luck’s firing of veteran wrestling coach Craig Turnbull.
He raised some significant questions about that issue last Monday in a meeting of the WVU Faculty Senate.
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