The Times West Virginian

Breaking News

WVU Sports

February 12, 2011

HERTZEL COLUMN: The effect of Big East play great

MORGANTOWN — It has echoed throughout the college basketball world for so long now that in many ways it has lost its meaning.

“The Big East is the best conference in college basketball … all … all … all,” goes the echo.

“The Big East is the toughest conference in college basketball … all … all … all,” goes the echo.

“The Big East is … is … is …”

It has been heard so long and loud that it is been accepted as the truth, without anyone really taking stock on just what that means.

The best, the toughest, the deepest … great, but how does that affect anything?

Tournament time is coming on, first the Big East Tournament, then the NCAAs. What effect does playing in the Big East have on a team’s postseason play, especially in what they call “The Big Dance” but if that’s dancing, then WWE is the tango?

Think about the Big East for a minute. This past week you might have noticed that Rutgers upset Villanova and St. John’s upset Connecticut. Before that, Providence won at Georgetown and Seton Hall slaughtered Syracuse.

The league is so deep, so good that it’s an upset when there is no upset.

Kevin Jones was asked how many teams he thought had a chance to win the conference title.

“The top 10,” he said, after thinking a while. “I mean, Pitt is the best team but it’s a tossup from there on. We’re still in the mix.”

West Virginia University surely will be a dangerous team come tournament time and the Mountaineers are tied for seventh and have five ranked teams left in their final seven games.

There is talk, honest, of 10 Big East teams making the NCAAs —10!

The Mountaineers can give you an idea of just how tough the conference is. On rank of schedule, they are fourth in the nation and they rank 17th in the RPI power ratings. That’s 17th in the country and seven in their conference.

Bob Huggins lets his players know how tough the conference is.

“I try to be honest with them,” the WVU coach said. “Some say that puts pressure on them, but I’d rather they know what’s going on than at the end come to me and say I didn’t know that.”

As far as Huggins is concerned, any team with 10 wins in the Big East is an NCAA team … but then there’s that conference tournament in which you have to play.

First of all, it’s so big that some teams get double byes and there is much argument about whether or not that is a good thing.

Huggins was against it, until he tried it.

“I think it was good for us last year,” he said, referring back to having a double bye, having to win only three games to win the title and then go to the NCAAs. “We were on such an emotional high entering the NCAAs that I thought it helped us, but we didn’t have to win four or five games.”

Having to win five games in a row, no matter who you are, is a chore, especially when you see upsets like Seton Hall and Rutgers and St. John’s popping up during the regular season.

Teams like that winning the Big East Tournament, if they have to win four or five in a row, are slim, but chances of them upsetting the top seeds are not. Consider that last year WVU was the only one of the top four teams that had double-byes to win their first game in the tournament, throwing it wide open.

To make matters worse, playing the grueling Big East schedule, then the tournament takes a physical and mental toll on Big East teams, enough so that the NCAAs almost become secondary to what it takes to get there.

By the time you reach the finals you will have played as many as 36 games or more during the year and, rest assured, you have sprained ankles, aching joints, bruises and a player or two who has gone down to a season-ending injury.

And, in the case of Da’Sean Butler, the season went 32 minutes too long before his injury finally occurred.

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