The View: Odds and Ends

Some observations from a historical week in Mountaineer basketball. Well, historical for me, at any rate.

For the first time, with the exception of the season played in Charleston, I saw the Mountaineers in person in two straight games in basketball.

So, I have a few observations based on the different places that I sat in the Big Mushroom with the leaky roof.

Wednesday, January 9, 2002 - Notre Dame

Thanks to Kevin Kinder, I sat four rows behind the Notre Dame bench in Section 7. The first thing I did was call home to speak with a friend of mine, as I hate Notre Dame.

"Got bail money?"

(For those worried, Mr. Gleason avoided any serious transgressions.)

What did I learn sitting there?

I learned that Mike Brey has absolutely no respect for WVU's perimeter defense. They were actually calling plays to use their best player, Ryan Humphrey, as a decoy so they could bomb away from three.

I learned that the student section, even when the students are out of town, is pretty darn loud. I also learned that the reason you only hear one half of the "LETS GO ... MOUNTAINEERS" side to side chant when you watch a basketball game on TV is because the corpses on the other side of the Coliseum from the students are in oxygen conservancy mode, and dare not make a sound, move a muscle, or speak aloud.

I learned that as much as I wanted to heckle the Notre Dame bench, the idea of dropping comments towards the Golden Whiners is a bad one, especially when you are sitting around six or seven priests. That's probably grounds for a first class ticket to hell. I hate Notre Dame. But Lucifer's ballclub isn't real high on my list either.

Saturday, January, 12, 2002 - Syracuse

Some of us from the place I work had planned on attending this game since before the season started. We didn't get our tickets, however, until Thursday, so we were in Section 68, Row O.

For those of you who don't know, that is about six rows from the back wall above the baseline where the pep band plays. We participated in the Family Ticket Plan.

Nice deal. Four tickets, four hot dogs, four cokes, huge tub of popcorn, 45 minutes in line at the concession stand, $44.

We went to the concession stand at the eight minute mark of the first half. The line at the concession behind our section was pretty long. So we walked around to see if there was one any better. We came upon the line behind the student section that had been lined up in one line, in assembly line fashion. This looked like a pretty good idea, so we got in line, about twenty people deep. We arrived back in our seats with 15 minutes left in the second half. To call the service slow would be an insult to slow people.

I also learned that the acoustics of the sound system are much better when sitting downstairs than upstairs.

* * *

Shopping in the Team Shop to bring some goodies back for my kids was painful. I have three boys. I bought a blue Jonathan Hargett jersey for my seven year old. They don't have any white ones, nor do they have any other numbers, although I would have still bought the #3.

I bought an undershirt for my newborn with a WVU football cartoon on the front. That was all they had, and it is kind of cute anyway.

I bought nothing for my three year old, because they didn't have anything in the entire store even close to his size.

By comparison, when we were at Tennessee, we took a trip through their team shop. Not only was it about three times the size as the one in the Colluseum, they had tad greater selection.

I could have bought football jerseys, basketball jerseys, hats, t-shirts woofing at Florida, UT T-shirts, actual used football jerseys, sweatsuits, footballs, basketballs, sweaters, golf shirts, ties, socks, pom-poms -- the list goes on and on.

The difference is that UT, instead of having two or three golf shirts, had ten or twelve different ones. Same with everything else. Huge selection.

Meanwhile, I haven't given my son his basketball jersey, because I need to get something for my other son. I was thinking they would wear their gear to the Marshall game next week. Silly me.

* * *

People need to get off Jonathan Hargett's back. While it is very true that he is struggling with some aspects of his game, nobody is mentioning that he is canning free throws like no other. Raise your hand if you can tell me who in the last ten years had a better shooting percentage from the free-throw line than Hargett's current 90.74% from the free-throw line.

There is a reason that Gale doesn't like to start freshmen at point guard. We saw it when Tim Lyles was a freshman. There would be moments of brilliance, backed up with moments of complete ineptitude.

I think that since the time I first saw Jonathan in person at the Tennessee game, to now, he has improved 100%. He still has a long way to go. But even if he played a perfect game, we would be struggling to win. No production from the center position. Little production from the three spot.

How impressive is Hargett? Notre Dame didn't put the box and one on Armstead. They didn't put the box and one on Moss. They put it on Hargett. When he gets a little better vision of the floor, gets more confidence in his teammates, he should be a tremendous player.

* * *

Count me as one who was somewhat impressed with Ales Chan in his few minutes on the floor. More a testament to the low expectations from the position than anything, I thought he came in and played with poise and confidence. He looks like he has a nice jumper from the foul line. Looks like that would be a perfect fit for Gale's high post offense.

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