ETI: Sweet 16 Style

Our football columnists make a basketball appearance after their trip to Cleveland.

Duke: Hello, I'm Duke

Jimbo: And, I'm Jimbo.

Duke: While Jimbo and I normally focus on the football season, the Wake Forest game was just unbelievable and we wanted to share our observations with the faithful. After West Virginia beat Oklahoma in 1982 the legendary Jack Fleming concluded the broadcast by saying, "You had to enjoy every moment of it." The Oklahoma and Wake Forest games had a similar theme: we took an early shot to the solar plexus, we doubled over, but we came back fighting for a hard fought victory with an unbelievable resiliency. In honor of Jack, "you had to enjoy every moment of it."

Jimbo, the all-time great basketball victories include the UNLV victory in 1982; the Jarrod West Cincinnati Sweet 16 win in 1998; and likely the 2005 Big East Championship run against Providence, Boston College, and Villanova. I realize that this current NCAA run is not over yet, but where does this victory rank? Twnety years from now, will this be basketball's version of the Oklahoma win?

Jimbo: I'm trying to be objective about this, but I believe I can say now that this is the biggest basketball victory since the Jerry West era, and perhaps ever. The UNLV game was a very emotional win, but it was a regular season win. The 1998 Cincinnati victory came with a group of cagey veterans where a little more was expected. This victory comes two weeks after we were just being considered an NCAA bubble team, and over one of the top five teams in the country.

I must give kudos to two people. First, super job Coach Beilein! As the old saying goes, "You planned your work and then worked the plan." While many were calling for you to change the offense to a more "Big East" style offense, you stuck with your plan and now you are reaping the benefits. Coach Beilein now has the fundamentals in place and we should see the benefits of this for many years.

Second, double kudos to J.D. Collins. At mid-season it appeared that J.D. had lost confidence in himself. Admittedly, J.D. appeared to be a liability on offense as his inability to hit the jumper was allowing teams to collapse on his teammates. Since his ESPN Top 10 play and game winning shot against St. John's, J.D. has been one of the leaders of this team. He has hit clutch jumpers and has been blowing past defenders on drives to the hole. With J.D.'s ability to drive, drive and dish, and hit the jumper he has created many opportunities for his teammates.

He went toe-to-toe with Dick Vitale's All-American Mr. Chris Paul and certainly held his own. I could go on and on about his resiliency and toughness.

What about Mike Gansey's 29 points, Joe Herber's all around contributions, Tyrone Salley's big dunk, D'or Fisher's big rejection, or Pittsnogle's big three pointer? What about Frank Young, Patrick Beilein, and Darris Nichols? Darris played like an upperclassman, contributing super minutes the stretch. This team is so old school that D'or wears a knee support that looks like something Dr. J would wear.

Duke, I'm drained.

Duke: Jimbo, I saw things that will be indelibly sketched into my mind forever. The coming together of players, band, coaches, and fans at the end of the game was incredible. We witnessed MSN analyst Jay Jacobs directing the pep band after the game. After Coach Beilein's television interviews he came over to the Mountaineer section and first bowed to the The Pride and then gave the faithful a very sincere thank you for our efforts and support. I saw Kevin Kinder swelling up with emotions at the end of the game, and at times it appeared that he just couldn't watch the action. Even our governor, Joe Manchin, was at the game supporting the team.

The crowd got into the cheerleader lift where they determine which male cheerleader can hold a female cheerleader over his head with a single arm extended vertically for longest period of time. The WVU cheerleaders won easily. Wake was weak. The night concluded by running into some of the old Follansbee gang going back to our car. Wow! What a way to have a reunion.

Jimbo: Off to Albuquerque as we go against the "General", Robert Montgomery Knight. So let's pack up the pep band and go 1-0 one more time!

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