Saturday, January 30, 2010

West Virginia vs. Louisville Thoughts

In today's game against the Louisville Cardinals, the Mountaineers once again did just enough to pull out a last second victory and cover up another subpar performace. WVU played well for the first five minutes and the last five minutes, leaving a very forgetable 30 minutes in between. The Mountaineers were very fortunate to come out of this game with a win, as Louisville outshot (52% to 40%), outrebounded (32 to 30), and generally outhustled WVU for most of the game. Continuing an alarming trend, West Virginia was often rattled by Louisville's full court pressure, giving up several turnovers that resulted in easy Cardinal buckets. WVU also had trouble against the zone defense, not moving the ball well and dribbling on the perimeter without driving to the basket. After a hot shooting start, the Mountaineers began looking for three's instead of trying to penetrate for higher percentage shots. On the other side Louisville seemed to have no trouble driving on West Virginia's defenders and either getting good looks close to the rim or kicking out to wide open shooters outside. Through all this, West Virginia still came out on top, but they were helped by a large free throw differential (26/35 vs just 9/13 for UL), some questionable calls on out-of-bounds rulings by the officials, and foul trouble for Louisville. However, to their credit, the intensity was high down the stretch, and the call to switch to the 1-3-1 zone with just over 5 minutes left was brilliant and threw UL's offense enough to let West Virginia catch up. Once again Butler was key, hitting clutch shots late in the game, including the go ahead bucket with less than 20 seconds to play. Moving on deeper into the ruthless Big East, West Virginia must improve ball movement against zone defenses and learn not to panic against full court pressure. Playing a variety of defenses throughout the game may also be helpful as most teams seem to be able to drive against West Virginia's man-to-man, switch every screen defense. The Mountaineers also need better production from the bench, as reserves contributed just 5 points in today's effort.

Player of Game: Da'Sean Butler - 27 pts.

Next entry will begin the countdown of top 10 WVU football wins of the decade. Games will be picked based on their excitement level, their impact on that season, and their impact on the overall football program.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

First Entry/Comments on WVU vs Ohio St.


As a fairly avid sports fan, I finally decided to start this blog so I could vent and share my feelings, predictions, and opinions of my favorite teams. This will mostly entail West Virginia Mountaineers football and basketball, though I will also touch on Atlanta Braves Baseball and Phoenix Suns basketball. Now, not to waste time.

Today's West Virginia vs. Ohio State basketball game started out in the same sluggish fashion West Virginia fans are becoming uncomfortably accustomed to. Lethargic defense, stagnant offense. No energy. Too much dribbling on O. The Buckeyes jumped on top early and controlled the first half, as Evan Turner systematically picked apart the Mountaineer defense. OSU led by 12 at halftime and the hometown fans feared for the worst. However, unlike in games against Seton Hall, Purdue, and Syracuse, West Virginia came out inspired in the second half. They moved the ball well against OSU's zone, using a high post man at the top of the key to distribute the ball to shooters. DaSean Butler made the clutch shots he needed to, and Kevin Jones was strong on the glass with 11 boards. Defensively, WVU controlled Turner in the second half, allowing him just 5 points after intermission. Joe Mazzulla, who continues to show incredible toughness game in and game out, hounded Turner, who all but ran over Mountaineer defenders on several occasions to no call from the officials. Another noteworthy fact was that the Mountaineers did not catch up on a single huge run fueled by momentum and a highly partisan home crowd, but rather by a steady and relentless effort on defense and a patient and effective offense. If West Virginia can start playing entire games like they played the second half today, they really will be the final four contenders the preseason media talked them up to be.
P.O.G. - DaSean Butler: 21 pts. 8 rebs. 5 assts. 1blk.

Also, over the next month or two, I will be counting down the best Mountaineer football wins of the decade, from 2000-2009.