This Saturday night, the WVU men’s basketball team will play Michigan in neutral-court game at the new NBA arena in Brooklyn.
From a coaching matchup, the game has tremendous intrigue as it pits John Beilein vs. Bob Huggins. Both men have made incredible contributions to college basketball in our state.
First, they both played here. Huggins was a great player at WVU in the mid-1970s. Many people forget that Beilein also played in the state, serving as a captain for Wheeling College in 1975.
There is no more popular or beloved sports figure in the state today than Huggins. He now has more than 700 wins and is on his way to the Basketball Hall of Fame.
Beilein may there too someday. He was an incredibly popular coach in West Virginia when he made WVU basketball relevant again nationally. He took over the Mountaineers in 2001 and eventually took them to an Elite Eight, a Sweet 16 and an NIT championship. He put a lot of pride back in the program. He also recruited many of the players who played on the 2008 team that went to the Sweet 16 and the 2010 team that went to the Final Four.
Beilein has done the same thing at Michigan that he did at West Virginia. He brought the pride back to a once-great tradition. And, he has done it the right way. Since he has been in Ann Arbor, he has taken the Wolverines to three NCAA tournaments and has a team ranked in the top five this season.
What should WVU fans say to John Beilein if they see him in New York on Saturday night? How about, thank you.