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Tougher Than A Weekend At Your In-Laws
Greetings from The Booth!
Last Friday, I got to do something I hadn’t done in probably 20 years–broadcast a basketball game. At the same time, I did something I maybe have never done–reverse roles and provide color analysis. For over 40 years I have been a play-by-play man, and that is my comfort zone. But for this season’s high school basketball coverage, the very capable Ryan (The Duke) Rutherford has been handling both roles up until now, as we move into the VHSL State Tournament and follow the fortunes of the undefeated Skyline Hawks.
Friday’s game took me back to my first play-by-play gig doing Alderson-Broaddus College (now University) women’s basketball while attending that school back in 1977-78. You gotta start somewhere, and that is where I started learning my craft, soaking up knowledge from anyone who was willing to give me tips. At some point, I will hang up the headphones as a new generation of sports broadcasters like Ryan take over the Booth. I just hope he’s learned a few things from me, as I learned from others.
Anyway, I wanted to talk about my West (By-God) Virginia Mountaineers basketball team. It’s been a tough year to be a Mountie. Football coach Neal Brown told us a few years ago to “trust the climb,” but after another year with no bowl game, we couldn’t wait for basketball season. Surely, Bob Huggins’ charges would give us our Mountaineer Mojo back. And, after a 10-2 start, folks were already starting to talk about NCAA seeding.
Then came the Big-12 part of the schedule. Playing in arguably the toughest conference in college basketball, WVU lost it’s first 5 league games, and their record started to drift back toward .500. Since then, West Virginia has righted the ship somewhat and has gone 6-6 in their last 12 games in a conference where you’re playing a ranked team just about every time you take the floor. The ‘Eers are as of this writing 17-13 with one league game and the conference tournament remaining before the Big Dance. Bracket King Joe Lunardi has WVU a 10-seed in the NCAA Tournament. If the Mounties can knock off number-11 Kansas State this Saturday in Morgantown, they are probably in.
It’s said that a team takes on the personality of it’s coach, and after some rough patches, I think that’s happening now with the Mountaineers. Hall-Of-Famer Huggins has had some challenges dealing with the brave new world of college athletics, but has brought together a group of strangers and turned them into a team that is tougher than a weekend at your in-laws. In the mold of Huggins (and his beloved state), WVU is gritty, and capable of hanging with anyone in the country. After a season of more ups and downs than a ride along Corridor H, the best could be yet to come for this team. So, grab a pepperoni roll and a jar of shine, and CUE COUNTRTY ROADS!
Until the next visit from The Booth…GO HAWKS, GO EERS!