Double Trouble?

With Tuesday's breaking news about a pair of Mountaineer big men, fans of the Blue and Gold were thrown not just a curveball, but a changeup too.

I had an 8:00 AM Educational Psychology final on Tuesday morning, and after completing my exam headed back to my apartment to catch up on the sleep that many students lose during the final two weeks of school. Upon waking up and checking my email, I had a note from Kevin Kinder about the two shockwaves about to be sent through the Mountaineer Nation. He told me to keep the news to myself until it broke publicly, but as it turned out just a couple of hours later the official announcements came that Kevin Pittsnogle would test the waters of the NBA draft, and Luke Bonner would be transferring.

First let's talk about Kevin Pittsnogle. The Martinsburg Marksman captivated a nationwide audience not just with his name, but with his lights out shooting during the Big East and NCAA Tournaments. I can't begin to count the number of times I've seen the picture of KP thumping his chest in various national publications. With his catchy name, marvelous performance, and high ceiling, his NBA stock went from virtually under the radar to a guy that can make some noise if he gets invited to the pre-draft camp in Chicago. The NBA isn't exactly filled with 6'11" guys that make their living by draining the three, but players like Dirk Nowitzki of the Mavericks, and Raef LaFrentz of the Celtics produce match-up problems with their ability to shoot outside. KP could conceivably fit into that mold one day. I'm not saying he's the next Dirk Nowitzki, just that he presents match-up problems for opposing coaches in whatever league he plays in.

KP has stated that unless he's a guaranteed first round pick, he'll probably be back in the Coliseum when the fall semester rolls around. Who knows how he'll play in Chicago? Only time will tell, but we should all join together in wishing Kevin nothing but the best. He's always made us as Mountaineer fans proud both on and off the court. This is an opportunity he simply cannot pass up, and it's best that we stand behind him 100 percent.

Now on to Luke Bonner. Big Luke was a fan favorite the moment he stepped on the court for the Blue and Gold. I'll never forget sitting on the baseline during the Notre Dame game when Luke took a big step across the lane and unleashed his running hook shot over Dennis Latimore. Luke showed flashes of being a solid contributor at different times during the year, and there's no doubt that with the exhausted eligibility of D'or Fischer, he would have played an increased role next season. But the fact remains that he was still more than 650 miles from home. We should respect Luke's desire to play closer to home, and just like Kevin, wish him nothing but the best.

Where will Luke end up? One possibility is Boston University. Luke's sister Becky recently completed her senior season as a Terrier. Just like Luke, Becky began her career elsewhere, playing for the Stanford Cardinal. The Terriers men's team finished the season second in the America East Conference to Vermont, and bowed out in the first round of the NIT to Big East member Georgetown. Perhaps the most attractive part of playing at BU is their brand new arena the Agganis Arena, which just opened in January. If he transfered to BU, Luke would only be about an hour from home. On top of that, he'd be in the same town as his beloved World Champion Red Sox. I have no factual evidence to support my theory that Luke Bonner will be transfering to BU, I'm just saying there are a lot of pieces that fit into that scenario.

One Mountaineer who will be returning, despite message board rumors, is Johannes Herber. For months, Mountaineer fans have kicked around a scenario where Herber would graduate this summer, and play pro ball in Europe. I got a chance to speak with Joe at Sunday night's banquet honoring the team. The Academic All-American said that he will follow his normal summer routine, returning to his native Germany to work out with the German National Team. He hopes to have the opportunity to play with Nowitzki and others in the European Championships. Sometime in September, Joe will return to Morgantown for the fall semester and begin working out with his teammates for the upcoming season. If this concerns you about him missing the first month or so of school, keep in mind that he's done this the past two years without missing a beat.

So with the departures of assistant Jeff Neubauer, Bonner, and the potential departure of Pittsnogle, it feels like people have been leaving the program faster than contestants waving goodbye to American Idol. In the coming weeks, things will calm down and Mountaineer fans will settle into that seemingly endless period between the end of basketball season and the beginning of football season. But there's no doubt that Tuesday's double dip of breaking news certainly has plenty of Mountaineer fans holding their breath.

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