The Times West Virginian

WVU Sports

December 10, 2010

HERTZEL COLUMN: Thoroughman a basketball throwback

MORGANTOWN — In this business, what you are reading now is known as a column, something that normally is written by someone who is either extremely clever or extremely old, seldom both. If you are clever you are given the freedom to perform as a columnist without wisdom; if you are old you are assumed to have wisdom even far after your ability to be clever has left you.

Those who know me know into which category I fit, which is why I feel I have the wisdom to offer an appreciation today.

In the world in which we live, our athletics has for whatever reason taken far too many wrong turns. The athlete has become, for the most part, an advertising billboard, wearing uniforms whose intent is far more to draw the viewer into a sporting goods store to purchase a certain product than to glorify the school or its tradition.

He is covered from head to toe in tattoos that once only a sailor or biker would wear and he has more ways to shake hands than his coach has plays in his playbook.

The only thing more original than his touchdown or slam dunk celebration is the excuse he can think up when he messes up the most basic fundamental in whichever game it is he is playing.

This is not helped by television one bit, which prefers to spend hours extolling John Wall doing “The Dougie” rather than showing a replay of a perfectly executed pick or an offensive tackle simply keeping a defender away from the quarterback.

This, perhaps, is a long and winding road to get to the fact that we want to offer our appreciation of Cam Thoroughman and the way he plays the game of basketball.

If nothing else, Thoroughman shows that there is still a place in the sports arena for a guy who shows up for work in coveralls and with a lunch bucket, a guy who doesn’t mind getting the dirt from the floor on his Nike shorts or the blood from his nose on his shirt.

He is the Sam Huff of the 21st century, a player who plays the game more the way Dr. Naismith invented than the way Dr. J re-invented it.

He is a pickup truck in a game being played by Ferraris, a beer and a shot at a champagne party.

If he isn’t Bob Huggins favorite player, then Huggins is fooling all of us.

You listen to the coach talking about his team after a game and there is this wrong and that wrong. The defense doesn’t do this and the offense can’t do that and then he gets to Cam Thoroughman.

“Cam knows how to play the game,” Huggins says.

That’s a relatively simple sentence coming from a relatively complex man.

Of course, Huggins being who he is and what he is doesn’t stop there, for he does know that Thoroughman does have one irritating facet to his game.

So, the sentence actually comes out this way:

“Cam knows how to play the game … and foul. He’s good at that.”

That is added, though, for effect and for a laugh and, yes, to remind Thoroughman that he would really be something if he could keep from bouncing opponents into the third row of the stands when blocking out for a rebound.

But, hey, no one’s perfect.

Thoroughman is far more Rocky than Apollo Creed.

He plays with his head and his heart, where others lift over their athletic and artistic gifts.

Don’t underestimate him. He can play. He’ll be glad to tell you how John Beilein recruited him here as a 2-guard and you know Beilein liked guys who could shoot. He can dribble and he can rebound, but when his knee went on him he had to remake himself and he came out a Bob Huggins player.

You don’t hear him complaining about his playing time, you don’t hear him whispering in the back rooms that he could do what so-and-so is doing and he can’t understand why he doesn’t get his chance.

He knows what he can do, what he can’t do and how to do what he can do.

“I just go in there and bring energy,” he said.

It’s overlooked, but he really is a nifty passer, as he showed against Robert Morris on two magnificent feeds of curls on a play that started back with Darris Nichols, who would wink with one eye or the other to let the passer know which way he was curling and then would get the feed.

This is something Thoroughman handles perfectly.

“I look for the touch pass,” he said. “I try to think one pass ahead.”

The problem is, he’ll never really lead the league in assists, but that’s not what his game is supposed to be.

More important, he leads the league bruises … those he gets and those he gives.

E-mail Bob Hertzel at

Text Only
WVU Sports
  • 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.

    April 18, 2014

  • 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.

    April 18, 2014

  • 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.

    April 18, 2014

  • Huggins signs junior college guard

    Coach Bob Huggins completed his 2014-15 West Virginia University recruiting class on Wednesday and deemed it a success after receiving a signed letter of intent from junior college guard Tarik Phillip.
    Phillip joins Jevon Carter of Maywood, Ill., and Daxter Miles of Baltimore’s Dunbar High and out of Notre Dame Prep in Massachusetts in the 2014-15 recruiting class.

    April 17, 2014

  • HERTZEL COLUMN: WVU gymnast hopes to stick her final landing

    The reaction, one suspects, was the same as most people who see either a picture of West Virginia University gymnast Hope Sloanhoffer or meet her for the first time in person — a quick double take, maybe even stumbling over the first few words of an introduction.

    April 17, 2014

  • FURFARI COLUMN: Comparing pay of coaches and professors

    Stringing together some odds and ends which may be of interest to you:
    • A beautiful lady came up to my table last Sunday at brunch in the Village of Heritage Point’s main dining room with a message.

    April 17, 2014

  • Bussie looks forward to WNBA

    On Tuesday, the weather turned cold, the wind blew and amongst the raindrops that fell a few snowflakes fluttered quietly to Earth.
    It was as if it was a celebration of Asya Bussie being drafted on Monday night by the Minnesota Lynx, champions of the WNBA, with the third selection of the second round, the 15th overall pick of the draft.

    April 16, 2014

  • WVU’s Harlee named Big 12 Scholar-Athlete

    The Big 12 Conference announced its Scholar-Athlete of the Year recipients for the 2014 winter sport season, and West Virginia University senior Jess Harlee earns the honor for women’s basketball.
    Harlee was selected as the award winner based on a vote of each respective sport’s head coaching group, with coaches not permitted to vote for their own student-athletes.

    April 16, 2014

  • Gyorko, Padres agree to extension

    Jedd Gyorko, who hasn’t hit much of anything with a .178 start on this season, hit the jackpot on Monday, signing a six-year contract extension with the San Diego Padres for $35 million with a one-year club option at $13 million.

    April 15, 2014

  • HERTZEL COLUMN- Spring game showed defense has improved

    From Dana Holgorsen’s viewpoint, which was standing right behind the offense, West Virginia’s Gold-Blue Spring Game on Saturday was a rousing success for it showed very little of what the Mountaineers will be in this coming season, probably not even showcasing the man who will direct the offense in the quarterback position.

    April 15, 2014

Featured Ads
WVU Sports Highlights
NDN Sports
House Ads
NCAA Breaking News
NCAA Photos