Random thoughts from a very emotionally-charged period in West Virginia University athletics:
Why is it that when West Virginia loses or plays below expectations in a win, certain media members rip the Mountaineers from stem to stern, but when other West Virginia-based teams do the same, the focus is removed from their poor play to some grand global view?
Will anyone point out that WVU's bowl bid is really a case of delayed justice from the one it should have earned two years ago? Or will all of the focus be on WVU "backing in" to the bid?
Every bit of coverage and 90% of the discussion concerning West Virginia's excellent 84-69 basketball win over LSU has concentrated on the Mountaineers' outstanding shooting. That's o.k. to some extent, because it was the story of the game. However, it's now being beaten into the ground, so much so that it is almost being viewed as an excuse for the win.
Hey, I'm not going to apologize to anyone for shooting the rock well. Granted, I don't expect the Mountaineers to hit 60% all year long, but it's not like this game was a fluke or anything. West Virginia has two great shooters (Patrick Beilein, Kevin Pittsnogle) a raft of very good shooters (Tyrone Sally, Mike Gansey, D'or Fischer, Darris Nichols), and a clutch shooter who always seems to make big shots (Joe Herber). It's going to be rare when the entire Mountaineer team goes cold at the same time.
For years, we all despaired when WVU put "athletic" basketball teams on the floor, because after repeated clankings, "athletic" turned out to be a synonym for "can't shoot a lick". I'd much rather have the reverse, because good shooting can hide a lot of deficiencies.
It's not fair that the Big East team gets stuck 20 miles from downtown for the Gator Bowl. I'm sure the coaches like it, because it is a bit isolated, but it also keeps the players from being able to enjoy as much of the bowl experience as they otherwise might.
There's no magic bullet for getting a team ready for a bowl game. Every approach imaginable has been tried, and each one has worked sometimes and failed sometimes. It all comes down to how the team plays on game day.
That siad, the one concern I have is working a team too hard in the week leading up to the game. Yes, work has to be done, but fresh legs, especially after the grinding work of the season, would seem to be of utmost importance.
After listening to a big Mountaineer basketball win, I can't imagine that many Mountaineer fans are concerned with high school football scores or the result of the Syracuse-Boston College football game. But maybe that's just me.
Everyone join me in a moment of concern for Boston College, which fell from a Fiesta Bowl bid all the way to wherever it is they will end up. If the Big East had any stones, it would get UConn in the Tire Bowl, Syracuse into the Motor City or one of the Texas bowls, and let B.C fend for itself. I hear there may be a spot in the Nova Scotia Bowl still available.
I'd announce those plans right out loud, too. After Tom O'Brien's whining outburst about being treated poorly after getting smacked by Syracuse (Thanks, Orange!), the hypocrites at one of the world's snobbiest schools should get nothing but the back of the Big East's hand.