Here are some interesting facts you may not know about today’s WVU men’s basketball game with Eastern Kentucky today.
1. WVU cannot afford to sleep on the Colonels. After the disappointment of the Pinstripe Bowl, our state and the Mountaineers fan base is in a funk. Fans are walking around in a shocked and depressed state as if their “sports fan life” has been sucked right out of them. They can’t feel sorry for themselves for too long. Those who come to the Coliseum today may need to be a factor. The Colonels are a confident and very well coached bunch.
2. Anytime you start off winning your first nine games, you expect to win. That is exactly what the Colonels did, starting out 9-0 before losing at nationally ranked Illinois 66-53 on Dec. 16. The Illinois game was much closer than the final scored indicated. They may lose in Morgantown today, but don’t expect EKU to be awed or intimidated.
3. It is a homecoming of sorts for former WVU assistant coach Jeff Neubauer. He was classy and well liked in Morgantown when he was an assistant coach for John Beilein from 2002-2005. He was the top assistant on the 2005 coaching staff that forever raised the bar for WVU basketball with a run to the Elite 8. In the win over Wake Forest in a second round game in Cleveland, Beilein lost his voice and Neubauer served as the head coach’s mouthpiece in all time-out huddles.
4. From a big conference school point of views, the Colonels non conference schedule in the first 9 games may not appear very taxing. Not so. Games included such as opponents as Cincinnati Christian, Kennesaw State, Towson, Delaware State, Radford, Norfolk State, Western Carolina, NC Central and Chattanooga. They were all similar schools and similar opponents for the Colonels and the 9-0 start was impressive.
5. WVU longtime administrator Mike Parsons has a son, Ryan, on the EKU roster. Hopefully the former Morgantown High player will get a chance to start today in his hometown.
6. Here is the eerie fact of the day. The athletic director at EKU is Mullens, W.Va., native Mark Sandy. He was also a student athlete at Concord College where he played basketball and baseball. He was an all-WVIAC baseball player as a senior in 1974. Sandy was a young, graduate assistant basketball coach at Evansville in 1977 when their team was killed in a plane crash. It was a horrific tragedy. I did a TV telecast of a game with him of Marshall-Furman in the winter of 1978 that served as a state wide PBS fund-raiser for the families of the crash victims. Sandy is part of the Mullens pipleline of men in athletics that included Willie Akers, the D’Antoni’s, Jerome Anderson, Rick Tolley, Greg White and others. Ironically, Tolley was the football coach who was killed in the 1970 Marshall air tragedy. The little town of Mullens has ties to two of our country’s saddest sports air tragedies.