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December 4, 2003     Spirit of Jefferson Farmers Advocate
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December 4, 2003
 

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SPIRIT OF JEFFERSON Farmer's ADVOCATE - Thursday, December 4, 2003 1 3 Is To Basketball Location Is To Business By Bob Madison they yell: "Loca- Location." coaches re- Quickness. trimming James by 17 points, West went back home for and faced North- a team from Boston starters back from a 16-15 last sea- Virginia doesn't have Practically Schifino. of Monopoly, alk and Park bm~e the choicest locations "quick- the Moun- be Meditorra- hue poor "locations"and quickness if on court. had some ex- had more quick- did West Virginia's ~lefeated in the Coli- has all five of starters back. they all are starting necessarily a good r had to start those 2003. A team isn't going to put only three or four players on the court. In some cases, a starter is there by default. Nobody else can provide much of anything. So, a player with little quickness, who doesn't re- bound, score, or defend very well still starts. He starts because the rules say its five players against five players. And the player makes fewer errors, knows his place in the offenses and defenses a little bettor, and won't usually em- barrass the coach. Nothing positive. Just fewer negatives. West Virginia has more than one starter who fits that description. Little quickness means little effective play against most op- ponents. One year of starting experi- ence can't overcome 19 or 20 years'of being "quickness chal- lenged" for several of West Virginia's starters. The Mountaineers played Saint Louis in Charleston on Tuesday. The Billikens stepped heavily on WVU last year, win- ning 75-45 and have just two returning starters from the team that did the stepping. This weekend, the Moun- taineers take to the MCI Cen- ter court in Washington, D.C. in a two-day tournament that also has Gonzaga, Maryland, and George Washington. Gonzaga, a team that annu- ally causes problems in the NCAA tournamanent for bet- ter-known schools, is highly ranked in all preseason publi- cations, polls, and coach's minds. The Bulldogs (oRen called the "Zags") have four returning starters including players who averaged 18, 11, and nine points a game during a 24-9 season that included a win over Cincinnati and then overtime loss to Arizona in the NCAA tournament. Maryland and George Washington co-host the tourna- ment and Maryland seems to always face the most talented of the two visiting teams in the first round. Maryland will play Gonzaga on Saturday and West Virginia will play George Washington. Maryland has a slew of young players and set its early- season schedule accordingly -- defeating American, George Mason, and Hofstra at home in its first three games. The Terps faced Wisconsin at home on Tuesday in an ACC- Big 10 format game. Gonzaga will be favored over Maryland's young whip- pets that do feature quickness and try to downplay their de- fensive shortcomings. West Virginia faces George Washington on Saturday. The Colonials were but 12-17 a year ago, but have "West Virginia Experience" -- four returning starters, some of which were playing by default during a los- ing season. At least one of George" Washington's,returning start- ers from the 2002-2003 season will be replaced. The winner of the Gonzaga- Maryland game will be favored to win the tournament by de- feating the Winner of the West Virginia-George Washington game. George Washington will be quicker than 'Nest Virginia. For the Moqotaineers to win they must slow the game's pace, do well in their halfcourt offense, make enough free throws at the end, and keep from being mangled on the boards. A win in either game this weekend will be progress for the Mountaineers. "Quickness. Quickness. Quickness." That individual basketball attribute favors the players of Maryland, Gonzaga, and George Washington over West Virginia. Five returning starters might appear to be a positive. But those five starters went 14-15 a year ago and lost eight of their last 10 games. Nobody has been replaced.. Yet. But D'or Fischer might re- place somebody by the time the Mountaineers face George Washington. Larry Boom~ Rodney Sewell Ill Ill Illlll Baseball Recruits Revealed at WVU By Coach Van Zant West Virginia University has signed nine baseball play- ers during the November "early signing period". "This could be our top re- cruiting class since I've been here," said Mountaineer head coach Greg Van Zant. "We needed pitching and signed three quality lefthanders and one of the top righthanders in the country. We needed infield- ers and were able to sign four: a third baseman, two shortstops, and a first baseman. We also found a good young catcher in Mike Schmidt, one of the best prospects in Pennsylvania." The nine players are from the states of West Virginia, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, and Kentucky. The pitchers are: Kenny Durst from Point Pleasant High, a lefthander who is 6- foot, 185; Ryan Gisolfi from Norwalk, Connecticut -- a 6- foot-2, 225-pounder; Matt Yurish from Hedgesville High, a 6-foot-2, 200-pound lefthander;, and Mark Wyner from Norwalk High in Con- necticut, a 6-foot-6, 225-pound lefthander. Schmidt, the catcher, is from Bethel Park High in Pennsyl- vania. He is 6-foot-2, 200. The infielders are: Dusty Woodring, who played at Allegany Community College in Cumberland and will have two years eligibility remaining. Woodring is 5-foot-ll, 170 and batted .379 in 51 games in 2003. Tyler Kuhn is 5-foot-10, 165, and played last year at Trinity High in Louisville, Kentucky. Justin Jenkins is another junior college transfer, coming to Morgantown from Potomac State in Keyser. Jenkins is a third baseman and is 6-foot-2, 200. He batted .413 in 46 games with the Cata- mounts. First baseman Michael Burger is a freshman from Blackhawk High in Beaver Falls, Pennsylvania. Burger is listed at 6-foot-I, 210 and played for the Blackhawk Jr. American Le- gion team that won the 2003 Pennsylvania state champion- ship. Burger could be switched to the outfield. West Virginia opens its 2004 season in a tournament in Charleston, South Carolina on February 20 where it plays three games. Next is another tourna- ment, the second one in Wilmington, North Carolina and sees WVU playing four games there. That tournament begins on February 27. The schedule then sends the Mountaineers to Minneapolis for three games inside the Min- nesota Twins Metrodome. Those games against Min- nesota, Florida State, and Ne- braska are scheduled for March 5, 6, and 7. The Mountaineers then have scheduled 14 straight home dates and 17 games. That portion of the schedule begins on March 9 against Quinnipiac from Connecticut and closes on March 30 with a doubleheader against Niagara. The Mountaineers open their Big East schedule against defending conference cham- pion Notre Dame in home games on March 27 and 28. In all, the Mountaineers will have 36 home games and 26 games on the road. Joining Notre Dame as Big East teams coming to Morgan- town will be Seton Hall, Pitts- burgh, St. John's, and Boston College. West Virginia earned one of the four berths in the Big East Conference tournament in 2003, but did not receive a bid to an NCAA regional when it was ousted in that double elimination event. Starkey To Be Honored December 20 Antoine Makle Mark Breman in a scrimmage Inokaitis. face Bentley in tour- tomorrow night. are 1-3. Bentley aeason. State Camp I camp will be held of the month of and all of February. is the Quad State ) and will weekends run- from Janu- the week- T28. has sessions on and Sunday and at the Ranson Civic Avenue. is for grades 9- Contact Jim Gil- [) 791-3512 for the information. Will be staffed by coaches, major and associate Marshall Gets Seven MAC Berths Marshall had seven players named to the All-Mid-Ameri- can Conference teams. There were 14 players named this year who also made the same teams in 2002. Miami of Ohio had nine players selected, while both Marshall and Toledo had seven players on the various teams. Given first-team mention from Marshall were senior of- fensive lineman Nate McPeek, senior wide receiver Dariu~ Watts, and junior defensive lineman Jamus Martin. Named to the league's sec- ond team were junior running back Earl Charles, senior out- side linebacker Charles Tynes, and senior defensive lineman Toriano Brown. Senior tight end Jason Rader was given honorable mention status. Marshall finished 8-4 over- all, but did not win its division of the MAC and will not be playing in conference's champi- onship game this weekend. The Thundering Herd still has a slim possibility of being selected to one of the 28 bowl games being played this win- ter. By Bob Madison Shepherd had been an after- thought when men's basketball was the topic of conversation among WVIAC circles. There had been a small, subdued celebration held when the Rams finally won a league tournament game in 1966 a~er years of trying for just one elu- sive victory. Basketball in Shepherd- stown was a polite game at- tended by students and a few loyal town's people when the games were played at old White Hall and then Sara Cree Hall over near the new "cafete- ria. Polite. And losing. Recruit- ing was minimal. The players came mostly from out back of Romney or within an hour's drive of the little campus tucked into a corner of land be- tween the Potomac River, the slope of Princess Street as it dipped to the river, and Rte. 480. Recruiting was done by tele- phone. Or letter. Orword of mouth. Or it wasn't done at all.., as one dismal record after another was chronicled in The Picket, the school newspaper. The teams didn't play many games. And they didn't win many games. Some of the records from 1958 through 1968 were 6-15, 8-10, 3-17, 8-11, 9-9, 8-9, 5-18, 11-12, 14-13, 10-14, and 7-17. The players were mostly small and came to Shepherd to become educators or coaches. They sure found out how to lose gracefully. That politeness and paro- chial "recruiting" mindset all began to change in 1968-69 when a Shepherd graduate was brought back to the school from up in the Northern Panhandle where he had coached high school teams at Weir and Oak Glen. Bob Starkey, who had been a football player, baseball player, and swimmer at Shepherd, be- came the Rams' third head coach in three seasons. Shepherd would not be taken lightly or for granted for the next 20 years as Starkey recruited hard and competed just as hard, bringing the Rams some nine 20-win seasons in his two decades as Rams coach. Starkey, now the head bas- ketball coach at South Hagerstown High, brought Shepherd a record of 360-203, once toting a 33-3 record to the school's trophy case. Starkey's first season was a losing one, but then his teams reeled off 11 consecutive win- ning seasons, including the 1975-76 campaign that had the 33 wins. Shepherd had memorable games against Fairmont, Sa- lem, and Wheeling during Starkey,s years - some of them at Sara Cree, some on the road, and some at the WVIAC tour- nament. Sara Cree became a scourge of sorts that no visiting team wanted to see. Its tight-to-the- court brick walls, louder-than- loud student section, and wicked Shepherd offensive ma- chines made winning there a rare thing for anybody other than Joe Retton's Fairmont team& The crowds were thick. The noise was just as thick. And the heat made the gym's windows heavy with moisture. Shepherd usually scored at least 90 points in games at Sara Cree. Starkey became synony- mons with offensive fun, teams full of competitive players who were intense to the end of any game, and four-point wins that saw the losers score 92 points. He will always be remem- bered in the same spoken breath or mind's picture with his best player, Dave Russell. Starkey and Russell are more inseparable than are Starkey and players Larry Boomer, Tom Dickman, Vic Holmes, Bobby Chuey, Buttons Walker, Charlie Rideout, Mark Palmer, Mike Philippi, Rodney Sewell, Antoine Makle, Keith Adams, Chuck Hipp, Chip Reklis, Mike McNeil, Bobby Boyd, Gilbert Allen, Terry Connolly, Paul Johnson, Joe Spencer, Craig Battle, Jeff Cook, or Mike Governor. A significant number of Starkey's players became head basketball coaches at high schools from the Eastern Pan- handle to the Northern Pan- handle and all over Maryland and Virginia. An All-Starkey Era team of Russell, Palmer, Makle, Connolly, and Sewell with re- serves Philippi, Boomer, game as the din and heat of Chuey, Rideout, Boyd, and CreeHall pierced their senses. Hipp would have been hard to hold within the yellow bricks of tiny Sara Cree Hall. On Saturday, December 20, ~ Shepherd will honor Starkey just prior to the 2 p.m. Rams' game against Hood College from Frederick. Hood College, in its first year with men's basketball, is coached by Tom Dickman, who played four seasons under Starkey at Shepherd. Players and team personnel from Starkey's 20 years at Shepherd will be in atten- dance. Starkey's last team was in 1987-88 and that team finished ' i with a 21-10 record that appro- priately closed the season with a' 122-116 loss to Charleston in the third-place game at the WVIAC tournament. Starkey never had the chance to see a team of his play at the Butcher Center with its ample seating, walls far re- moved from the floor, artd re- cruiting advantage over Cree's muggy and cramped confines. It's been 16 seasons since Starkey's last team. There are still a few fans who dot the bleachers at the Butcher Center who can still picture themselves jammed into the pews at Sara Cree. They will be there on De- cember 20... trying to revive the mind's photo of Russell's long jump shot or Shepherd clawing back from an eight- point deficit with three min- utes remaining to win another