A long, chaotic season that probably should never have happened finally came to an end earlier this week. For WVU, it was a season of highs and lows, that ended with a loss to an old Big East rival in the second round of the tournament. I have some thoughts.
If you’ve read anything I’ve written at this blog, you’ll know I have extremely strong feelings about Baylor University and their Athletic Department. To be clear, this was one of the best basketball teams I’ve watched in a long time. They do everything and do it well. They have length, athletic players, and can shoot lights out. On top of that Scott Drew is a great recruiter and in-game coach. That said, this is an athletic department that does not deserve to exist. They represent everything that is bad and terrible about college athletics.
CBS did a huge disservice by conveniently omitting why Baylor’s story was “so amazing.” If you don’t know, well, I could spend a whole article talking about Dave Bliss being literal human garbage. I could also spend a whole article talking about the Baylor Rape Scandal, and how it went to every level of the university. But, I will spare you.
Put simply, I won’t be happy for Baylor University. I won’t be happy for their fans who like to pretend their football program wasn’t built by a terrible person named Art Briles. I won’t be happy for Scott Drew, either. He’s a sanctimonious prick. I am happy for their players, and wish them well. They absolutely deserved the title.
Bob Huggins is simply one of the best coaches of all-time and should be in the Hall of Fame. He should also have his name on either the court or the building. WVU has always been really weird about naming stuff/retiring jerseys. They need to get over that and put Huggs name on something.
Also for those keeping score at home, with Roy Williams’ retirement — Huggs is almost certain to pass Bob Knight, Roy Williams and Jim Calhoun on the all-times win list next season.
There was a lot of really dumb stuff on Twitter during the championship game. If you were one of those people tweeting about how Gonzaga was bad or something, you’re dumb and should feel bad. Gonzaga was historically dominate. Yes, they play in a weaker league. That’s not their fault. It’s also not their fault that people don’t want to play them. But they also scheduled an extremely competitive non-conference schedule, especially when you consider the difficulties of doing so amid COVID. And they dominated that schedule.
The only team that even forced them to break a sweat? WVU. And in that game, which they won, they were missing their best player for a majority of the game. So yeah. Knock it off with the Gonzaga doesn’t deserve shit.
Mark Few has built one of the best programs in the country and this Gonzaga team was incredibly talented. Baylor was just more talented.
I can understand why people are worried now that Deuce McBride has announced his intention to test the draft waters. I think he’ll be back, but if he doesn’t — for godsake — don’t tweet angry shit at him. This goes generally for any college athlete, but especially for those who leave your program for whatever reason. Just don’t do it.
Anyway, Miles was one of the more pleasant surprises this season. If he stays, I think he has the ability to become one of the best guards to ever play at WVU. Certainly one of the best players at any position since the days of the Logo.
Welcome folks, to the new era of
Free Agency The Transfer Portal. It’s a good thing. Players should have more agency when it comes to where they want to play. It also means that you can’t be as sure about things from one season to the next.
I am excited for Jordan McCabe in particular. By all accounts he’s a great young man both on and off the court. I am also pumped because I will get to watch him on occasions at UNLV.
Best wishes to Emmitt, too. I have always thought he could do more, but it was pretty clear his minutes were going to go down and no shame in bouncing to get minutes.
On coaching talent alone, entering this season, the Big 12 had some of the best coaches in the nation. After a series of personnel changes (Iowa State, Texas, Texas Tech, Oklahoma), that’s still true.
I have some thoughts about each of the finished hires:
- Iowa State: I said at the time, I thought Prohm was a big mistake. I was, eventually, proven correct — but there was plenty of reason at the time to believe otherwise. He’d been incredibly successful at Murray State and comes from the Billy Kennedy tree. Prohm struggled to replicate Fred Hoiberg’s success and saw the wheels come off this season. Iowa State isn’t like, top tier, but it’s not a bad job. I had expected them to go after any number of high-profile mid-major coaches, or even perhaps a few name brand assistants at major programs. Instead they made the most uninspired hire of the entire cycle. T. J. Otzelberger may end up being a success and I’ll eat my words, but man. What a wet fart of a hire. Otzelberger had two okay seasons at South Dakota State (he inherited a great team from Scott Nagy) but has been dreadful at UNLV. There were numerous rumors around the program that UNLV was considering firing him, as Otzelberger not only failed to stop the backslide that had cost Dave Rose and his successor, Marvin Menzies, but had seen UNLV’s form actually become worse. Wildly unsure how you look at his record and go “ah yes, this is our dude.” Grade: F
- Oklahoma: First, I want to tell a short story about Lon Kruger, one of the nicest guys in the industry. A few years ago, ahead of a clash between WVU and Oklahoma when both teams were ranked in the top 10. Lon spent like ten minutes talking to me about the weather. It was awesome and he’s a tremendously cool guy who should also be in the Hall of Fame. His retirement surprised a lot of people, including me. Oklahoma responded by... making one of the best hires of the cycle? Porter Moser was rumored for virtually every high level job, and for good reason. His work at Loyola speaks for itself and if were an AD at a major-conference program, he would have been my first choice. That said, I think there’s probably some reasons to think it might not work. There have been numerous coaches who shone brightly at schools like Loyola (see: virtually every Gonzaga coach before Few) and didn’t make the transition, but more importantly, Porter’s own record at Arkansas-Little Rock and Illinois State was hardly amazing. Still, it’s a great hire and they got the best name on the board. Grade: A+
- Texas: As with Prohm, I was never convinced Shaka Smart was a good fit for Texas, for a variety of reasons. Still, even with the early exit from the tournament, the Big 12 tournament title bought Shaka another year, but he clearly saw the writing on the wall. Marquette is a great landing spot for him, and I suspect they will be back in the mix challenging for titles in the Big East. Now onto the next guy. I don’t know what to make of this hire. I did not think Beard would leave Tech for Texas. Yes, Texas has oodles of money, but its not that much better of a job. And no, coaches absolutely do not give a shit about the Austin Nightlife. Now add in exactly how, uh, pleasant the environment is going to be when Texas goes to Tech next year, and uh? Yeah that should be fun. One thing is certain, Chris del Conte is a messy bitch who loves drama. Putting all that aside, on merits alone this is a grand slam. Beard is a tremendous coach and recruiter. Grade: A
- Texas Tech: See my above comments for Beard leaving, but uh, Texas Tech baby, what is you doing? Mark Adams? Older guy with almost no head coaching experience in a cycle where there lots of big names on the board and your job is pretty darned good? Yeah I don’t get this hire at all. Still, its better than whatever Iowa State’s decision making process was so... Grade: D+
With several players testing the NBA waters, it’s hard to make any real predictions because let’s be fair, a WVU team with a returning McBride is a lot different than one which doesn’t have him. That said, for purposes of this blog, I am going to assume that both McBride and McNeil come back. There’s plenty of reason to believe both will be, and I am an optimist.
Assuming that, you have to imagine WVU starts next season as a top 10 team. Add to that the bevy of off-season changes we’ve seen in the Big 12, along with departures and turnovers, and you would also think WVU would be among the preseason favorites to win the conference title.