Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Big 12 Orientation, Week 1: West Virginia Basketball

Yeah...

WVU At-A-Glance:
  • Program Founded - 1904
  • Overall Record - 1,621 - 1,005
  • Two Final Four Appearances (1959, 2010)
  • Three Elite Eight Appearances
  • Eight Sweet 16 Appearances
  • 25 NCAA Bids
  • 13 Conference Tourney Championships
  • 14 Conference Regular Season Championships
  • A partridge
  • A peartree
History with TCU:  I'll be honest - I did as much digging as I was interested in doing and couldn't come up with anything, meaning the two teams have never played or, if they did, the internet is not familiar with it.  Let us know in the comments.  However, dating back to his time at Cincinnati, Huggy has established a pretty decent personal rapport with TCU, taking out the Frogs three times in three meetings.  

Recent History:  Since the return of native son Bob Huggins in 2007, WVU has experienced success not seen around those parts since the days of Jerry West.  Not that WVU was bad; in fact, they were far from it, winning the 2007 NIT Tournament and reaching the dance two of three years before he arrived on campus - the Pittsnogle Era, you'll recall.  But it's fair to say that Huggins has put wind in the sails of his home state team since he DWI'd his way back to Morgantown.  In his five years, the Mountaineers have reached the tourney each season, including the Sweet 16 twice and the Final Four once.  In comparison, TCU has reached the NCAA Tournament seven times in the past... ever.  So it's clear Huggins knows what he's doing.  This most recent year, the Mountaineers complained of youth and a lack of a consistent star... and still made the NCAA Tourney.  Missouri has put together a nice little run recently and aggy occasionally makes things interesting, but WVU has built a program under Huggins.  I'd rather go four rounds with aggy and Mizzou over two with WVU, but that's our future.  Seriously, good luck, Trent.

2012 Outlook:  Where TCU is clearly looking at their future in the Big 12 with that same wide eyed expression a deer has right before being blown to bits by a semi-truck, the Mountaineers could arguably be looking at their situation as a breath of fresh air.  Yes, the Big 12 is most certainly big boy basketball, and was one of the toughest Conferences in the nation last season, but after running the 15 team gauntlet that is the Big East year after year, only having 9 teams on the slate, two of them being Texas Tech and TCU, can't be nearly as daunting.  The 2011-2012 WVU team finished with a 19-14 record, good enough for eighth place in the Big East.  After receiving a first round bye in the BE tourney, Huggins' crew were dismissed in the second round by Connecticut.  From there the team would receive a 10 seed in the NCAA Tourney but fail to get off the bus, losing to Gonzaga by 20+ points.  The Mountaineers lose their two top scorers from last season in Kevin Jones and Truck Bryant who were averaging nearly 35 points of offense per game.  However, of their remaining four top scorers, three were freshmen.  The remaining three members of the team that averaged double digit minutes per game?  Also freshmen.  I'm sensing a trend.  The 2012 team will only have one senior projected to start in Forward Kelicli, meaning if these guys live up to the reputation Huggy Bear has built, they could be scary good for the forseeable future. I'm not kidding Trent, get out while you still can.

Miscellania:  You may not have noticed a casually tossed in reference to a DUI in an above paragraph, but it's worth noting.  Much like WVU Head Football Coach Dana Holgorsen, Bob Huggins also likes to get his swerve on.  Unlike WVU Head Football Coach Dana Holgorsen, Bob Huggins likes to get his swerve on and go for a midnight drive.  This wasn't the direct cause for his ouster from Cincinnati, but it's heavily suggested that it was the beginning of the end; the DUI came before his final season in southern Ohio, the back half of two underachieving campaigns, and was likely used as an excuse to achieve a coach who had outstayed his welcome.  I certainly recall a certain game in Fort Worth during the Santee Years, sitting behind the Cincy bench and hurling off-color commentary at Huggins regarding his driving record, comments that were met with an equally off color response from what I was told was Huggins' wife.  Of course, the Frogs lost the game, so it doesn't matter, but it's the only anecdote I have. 

Oh, except for this one, for Mavs ears only:  Huggins coached Kansas State star Michael Beasley for one year in Manhattan before bouncing to WVU.  Beasley was probably going to leave anyway for the NBA, but having Huggins skip town made that decision official.  Beasley was then selected with the 2nd overall pick by the Miami Heat.  At the time, Beasley was seen as a no brainer selection, but as it turns out he also lacked brains and was a pretty serious flop for the Heat.  It looked like water under the bridge for Miami once they dispatched Beasley and brought in Lebron and Bosh, but the Mavs proved that, for at least one year, team matters more than individuals.  But, had Beasley stayed in school, two of the next three picks in that draft?  Kevin Love, perhaps the best power forward playing the game today, and Russell Westbrook, who has been a huge difference maker in Oklahoma City.  Put either of those guys in Miami instead of Beasley alongside Lebron and Wade and who knows what Dallas' trophy case looks like?  So, Thanks Huggy, for hiding Beasley's short comings for at least that one year and making him a hot propsect.  

And for those who quit reading a while ago, I leave you with this:


Seriously Trent, bring your 'A' game.



Daily Discussion: Pachall's future

Will 2012 be La Manga's swan song in Fort Worth?
Since the NFL Draft moved its first round to prime time on Thursday night in 2010, Frog fans have eagerly awaited hearing the name of one of their own called out by Commissioner Roger Goodell. Two years ago it was Jerry Hughes going to the Colts at #31, and last year the Bengals eventually decided against trading back up into the first round and instead picked Andy Dalton with pick #35 on Friday evening.  This year, Tank Carder is generally considered the top draft prospect coming out of TCU, and he's not expected to be selected until the middle rounds

Could we be back to watching for a Frog to go in Round 1 next year?  There are a few talented seniors to be on this year's roster that would love to be in such a lucrative position...but what about Casey Pachall?  The NFL world has been very impressed by what Dalton was able to do as a rookie in Cincinnati, so how interested will they be in the guy who has already begun to break his records?

It's certainly a long time between now and the 2013 NFL Draft, but Scout.com has already compiled a list of the top prospects at each position that will have the option of declaring after this next season.  They have Pachall listed as the 9th best quarterback prospect, and project him as a second-round pick.  If he improves upon his first season as a starter against the tougher opposition of the Big 12, it's not beyond imagination that he could leap-frog a few of the guys ahead of him on that list and be faced with the choice to leave early for big first-round money.

There are a lot of variables that would go into such a decision- how Casey performs this fall, how scouts evaluate that performance, the state of the team going forward from 2012 into 2013, his relationship with the coaching staff, his personal financial situation and on and on.  No one could say for sure what will take place over the next year, but what are your thoughts on Pachall potentially leaving school early after his junior year?

TCU-A&M preview

After having a second win streak snapped at 9 games this season, the Frogs will try to start another one in search of that elusive double-digit streak when they begin an 8-game home stand against Texas A&M at 6:30pm tonight at Lupton Stadium.  They'll also be looking for a third consecutive win over the Aggies (after beating them 4-2 last year in College Station and 6-1 two years ago in Fort Worth) and another RPI boost as the Aggies come to town ranked 18th in that regard.

If you're headed to the game tonight, get ready to get a healthy dose of "TCU is pitching their ace against us" from the dunces in maroon & white.  This has been the handy excuse for Big 12 teams losing to TCU in midweek games over the years, despite the fact that it's not the way Schlossnagle operates his team.  True freshman Brandon Finnegan will be on the mound for the Frogs tonight, making his seventh career start- and his first since March 25.  Since then, he's thrown 9⅔ scoreless innings in relief while contributing to the strong TCU bullpen effort that's been there all season- they now have a collective 2.24 ERA.

The Maroon Mormons come to Fort Worth tonight riding a five-game losing streak, including a midweek home game to Rice last Tuesday in which the Owls pitched....one of their usual midweek guys.  Two weeks prior, they lost to UT-Arlington when the Mavericks pitched...one of their usual midweek guys.

A&M head coach Rob Childress hasn't announced his starter for tonight just yet, but his usual Tuesday guy as of late has been Gandy Stubblefield, an awkwardly-named freshman right-hander from Lukfin who carries with him a 3.86 ERA and has not pitched to a decision as of yet this year.  If Childress' Tuesday pitching pattern holds tonight, you can expect to see five or six pitchers from his staff that pitches to 2.93 cumulative ERA.

One of the big questions for tonight's game will be the availability of Aggie first baseman Jacob House.  The senior from Mansfield had a streak of 107 consecutive starts snapped this past weekend when he was held out against Baylor due to a bruised foot.  He's batting .331 on the year and leads the team with 5 home runs and 36 RBIs, so his absence would definitely be felt if he's not able to go.  They do have three other regulars hitting above .300, though, led by junior outfielder Tyler Naquin- who is hitting a blistering .408 and leads the team in just about every category that House doesn't.

It looks like it should be beautiful weather for tonight's game, with a forecast of clear skies and a temperature in the low 80s at first pitch.  There are still some general admission seats available if you want to head out to Lupton- otherwise you can watch the game on The Mtn (if you have it), listen on KTCU, or keep tabs on it via twitter by following @TCU_Baseball


Morning Dump

Baseball:

TCU not taking struggling A&M for granted Star-Telegram

Frogs kick off home stand against Aggies gofrogs.com


Football:

Big 12 opener vs. TCU best scenario for Weis, Kansas Star-Telegram

Rookie Reflections: Colin Jones 49ers.com

Tank Carder & Braylon Broughton both ranked in list of draft-eligible OLBs Boston Herald