When head coach John Beilein recruited Joe Alexander, anyone with basketball knowledge knew you were getting a very solid player. After Beilein led the mountaineers to the NIT championship in the 2006-2007 season and left for the head coaching job at Michigan no one was to too angry at him because he did amazing things for our basketball program including leading a very memorable team to the Elite 8 and minutes away from a final 4. In hindsight, possibly the person who was angry the least at his departure, could be argued, was Joe Alexander. Not because Beilein wasn’t an excellent coach, but because of what Joe Alexander became, a monster.
After what started out as a very successful season for Joe under Beilein’s last year declined in the second half. After an 11-point performance versus Providence in early Feb, Alexander went without scoring over double-digits for the rest of the regular season and the Big East Tournament. Alexander also only totaled 18 points in the Mountaineers' NIT run. He averaged 10.3 points per game, 1.9 assists per game, and 4.3 rebounds per game for the season.
Enter Bob Huggins; He got Joe in the weight room and Joe went from 210lbs to 230lbs. He taught Joe to play with his back to the basket and he got Joe the ball in isolation so he could showcase his incredible athletic ability. He emphasized Defense and being a rebounding machine. The result? As the season went on Joe only got better. He scored 30 points 3 times that season. He had highlight reel dunks time and time again. He was named to the first team All-Big East squad. He put up gaudy numbers against storied programs like Uconn, Arizona, and Duke. By season’s end Alexander lead the team with 16.9ppg and 6.4 rpg. Alexander was second on the team with 1.5bpg and 3rd with 2.4 apg. Alexander’s stock rose so much that pro scouts couldn’t help but take notice. The following year Alexander skipped his senior season and declared himself eligible for the NBA draft. Joe Alexander was drafted 8th overall by the Milwaukee Bucks Pretty darn impressive for a new coach, a player with the will to succeed, and 1 season.
Moving to Football, when head Coach Bill Stewart recruited Geno Smith fans knew they were getting a very good football player. Getting some snaps as a freshman and becoming a starter as a true sophomore proved to be valuable for the rising star who was learning fast how to take over the offense from a long line of impressive quarterbacks who came before him. The offense was never what the staff and fans expected it to be and as Geno Smiths sophomore season ended WVU was looking to get back to that high octane offense they had under PatWhite/RichRod.
Enter Dana Holgorsen; Dana was widely known as one of the brighter offensive minds in college football. The numbers his teams have put up while he has had a say in the offense are jaw dropping. Under Dana, Geno learned the offense and learned it fast. He put his time in the film room and running routes with his receivers, he learned the importance of ball control and getting the ball in your play-makers hands. He was giving reigns of an offensive that has unlimited potential. He has been humble and modest giving praise to his teammates and coaches and he has been an absolute remarkable spokesman for the university and the State of West Virginia. Geno doesn’t have to say much, his numbers speak for themselves. Smith’s numbers have been eye-popping. He has completed 141 of 169 passes (83.4%) for 1,826 yards and 20 TDs with no interceptions for a team that is averaging 53 points per game. Under Dana’s offense Geno is breaking records, taking care of the ball, a front runner for the Heisman Trophy and winning games. In how impressive Geno’s numbers have been this season, winning games is the only thing Geno cares about. Us fans are a little more impractical. Of course we want our team to win above all else, but stats are what we crave, it’s what we drool over. It’s how we compare a high-flying team in Oregon versus a powerhouse down in Alabama who might not ever get to play each other this season. Not if Geno has anything to say about it. WVU might be a long shot to win the BCS National Championship and they might be a huge underdog. But under Dana Holgorsen one thing is for sure, Geno is a monster.