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COUCH MAIL- Basketball, Back to the Future, and the Baha Men

By Jude

Ask and ye shall receive. After asking our fellow couchers to submit questions for Couch Mail in this article, my inbox was flooded with queries, questions, and ponderings. Let's get right to it. Here's the best of those entries (last names omitted).

You don't still think that we're going to the NCAA tournament, do you? We haven't beaten a single top ranked team all year, we can't win road games, and we can't close out games against good teams. Please tell me you see this.
- Chris, Charleston

Ah, there's that good old Mountaineer pessimism. I can understand why there are so many of you out there. It really does seem that the only tangible outcome of being a Mountaineer fan is having your heart ripped out time and time again.

But here's what I know about the basketball team and the selection committee. WVU is presently 6th in the Big East standings. The Big East has 16 teams, and at this point, at least 7 of those teams will most likely be invited to the NCAA Tournament. Out of conference, WVU has lost only two games, against the now-#1 ranked team in the nation Tennessee (who barely beat the Mountaineers), and against 18-9 Oklahoma in what is considered a neutral site of Charleston. (Neutral because it can hardly be a home court if the Mountaineers consistently play like shit there.)

The Charleston Civic Center- where Mountaineer dreams go to die.

Now, if you were to say that WVU didn't beat any significant teams out of conference either, you'd be right. But wins over 18-10 Winthrop, 14-11 Auburn, 16-10 Duquesne, and 15-11 Marshall (stiffle your laughter) aren't that bad either. But what's most important is that WVU didn't LOSE any of these games, or any other games that really jump out as a bad loss other than Cincinnati at home. WVU has beaten the teams it should beat, and lost to teams that were better than they were.

And I'm not alone in my delusion; Joe Lunardi of espn.com has WVU as a #10-seed in his latest Bracketology projection. Collegehoops.net has them as a 9. Stewart Mandell of cbssportsline.com has the Mountaineers as a #12-seed.

And if the close losses to Georgetown, Pitt, Tennessee, and Oklahoma mean anything, it is that the teams that were better than the Mountaineers were just barely better. (In the Mandell article, he states that "in an interview with CBS on Sunday, selection committee chairman Thomas O'Connor acknowledged his colleagues take into account unusual circumstances like the controversial, last-second foul that cost [Villanova] their Feb. 11 game against Georgetown." Goaltending and Georgetown, anyone?

If WVU stays the course, there's no reason to think they wouldn't be able to make the NCAA Tournament. So relax, Chris and like-minded pessimists: let's enjoy the ride for once rather than complaining about the bumps in the road.

What is the deal with this site and the Back to the Future movies? It seems like every article has some reference.
- JD

"Back to the Future" is the apex of all philosophical wisdom.

Why are we here? "Jesus, George, it's a wonder I was ever born."

The legal system:
Marty McFly: [Reading the newspaper from 2015] "Within two hours of his arrest, Martin McFly Jr. was tried, convicted and sentenced to fifteen years in the state penetentary."? Within two hours?

Doc: The justice system works swiftly in the future now that they've abolished all lawyers.

Family lineage: "You've got a real attitude problem, McFly. You're a slacker! You remind me of your father when he went here. He was a slacker, too."

Responsibility: "I spilled beer all over when that car smashed into me. Who's gonna pay my cleaning bill?"

Clearly, JD is unaware of the historical significance of Doc's travels with Marty.

How do you reconcile your (correct) outlook of last years Louisville team after losing a coach and a large chunck of defense in this article with this years Mountaineers?

Holy crap. I hadn't read that article in some time. After emphasizing over and over the significance of the Cardinals losing most of their defense and their head coach who was the architect of their offense, I had the audacity to say this:

So forgive me if I'm not expecting Louisville to come rolling into Morgantown with a top-5 ranking, helping our strength of schedule. I wouldn't be so presumptuous if WVU had just lost Coach Rod, Steve Slaton, Owen Schmitt, Eric Wicks, and Keilen Dykes.

Jeez, prophetic much? Clearly, by this methodology, I have no other choice than to predict the Mountaineers to suck next year, right? There's no way I can talk my way out of this is there?

Well, of course, I can.

Let me count the ways that the transition from Rodriguez to Stewart and the departure of similar players is not necessarily a great comparison to Louisville's season last year.

1) Steve Kragthorpe was not an in-house hire to be the replacement for Bobby Petrino.

It's fairly reasonable to assume that the transition from Rodriguez to Stewart will be smoother than that of Petrino to Kragthorpe considering that Stewart was already on staff at WVU for 8 years before getting the head gig.

2) Kragthorpe didn't coach the team he was going to inherit to a huge bowl win over the #3-ranked team in the country before being hired.

I think this is a key point of emphasis. Stewart had an audition as the Mountaineers' coach before he was hired, and he nailed that audition. Playing without Steve Slaton for most of the game, the Stewart-coached Mountaineers won a BCS Bowl Game against a great opponent. Kragthorpe was coming off of a season in which he guided the Tulsa Golden Hurricanes to an 8-5 record and a berth in the Armed Forces Bowl (where they got killed by Utah). Not exactly similar.

I don't believe Krapthorpe had the opportunity to take the Fiesta Bowl trophy from Bob Stoops.

3) Kragthorpe didn't have the full-throated support of his team to become the new head coach until after he was hired, and that disappeared pretty quickly.

"He deserves [to be head coach]," Patrick White said. "A great man. A great coach. All the players respect him and all the players love him. You couldn't ask for a better man to lead us to victory today."

Enough said.

4) Brohm was a pass first-second-and-third quarterback that lost his playcaller. Patrick White is a runner who makes his own decisions on the field.

I've said it before and it's worth repeating. Patrick White can run this offense in his sleep. It was he who made Rodriguez, not the other way around. If there's any question about that, one only needs to examine the games WVU lost this season- games in which White was injured.

5) While losing similar numbers of defensive starters, Louisville hired a new defensive coordinator, while WVU maintains continuity with the same defensive coordinator.

Who is in a position to better coach up a new group of defensive starters, a guy completely new to the program with a new scheme and no knowledge of the players, or a guy that recruited the players, has coached them in practice, and has guided them in the same schemes?

There. That should be sufficient to make myself look less like an idiot when I predict that the Mountaineers will have a great season next year.

What do you predict for the fb outcome this season? I saw PW hold up the #1 sign after his first bowl....the peace sign after his 2nd and the three finger...bowl winning...trophy holding pic last month. Are we destined for a bowl win or THE bowl win? Is it our time and is there an Owen type guy, on the field? Thanks, Glenna

Wow, the Spring game isn't even here yet and you people are pushing me for football predictions? I'd say that it's a little early at this point to really see what WVU's bowl destiny will be. Let's hold off on brash predictions at this point until we at least know who is going to be starting on the defensive side of the ball and get some reports after spring practice.

As for the Owen question, that's simple: no one is going to replace Owen Schmitt. But the closest thing to replicating his production may be Pat Lazear. Lazear was a punishing runner and linebacker in high school, and stands to step into Schmitt's role if he can demonstrate the same work ethic both on and off the field that made Schmitt so legendary.

Those are some mighty big shoes to fill, but maybe Lazear can do it.

What is the preferred beer of choice for the owners of wemustignitethiscouch? I’m assuming that since you talk about beer all the time, you have a favorite.
- Sara, Wheeling

Basically, as long as there’s lots of it, we’re not too snobby. The Maadman enjoys Magic Hat #9 if he’s feeling sophisticated, while I prefer Guiness and Blue Moon. (Yes, occasionally I’m the fairy at the bar with an orange in his beer.) Usually, you’ll find both of us swimming in much cheaper beer, though.

A while back, you did an article comparing current wvu basketball players to famous bands. What bands would you give them this year?
- Joe

Here's the article to which Joe refers.

Most of the players are the same, but I think I'd make a few revisions.

Alex Ruoff was originally Gnarls Barkley because he seemed solid, but wasn't really the headliner yet. At this point, I'd say he's more like the Smashing Pumpkins. When he's on, he's really on, and it's hard to find anything better. But when he's off his game, the whole package is complete crap.

Joe Alexander and Guns N' Roses still works for the stated reasons.

So does Darris Nichols and AC/DC, as well as Da'Sean and DMB.

Considering that Jamie Alexander has been wildly inconsistent and tends to get the hook after the first 3 minutes of the game, he'd almost have to be someone that was a one hit wonder. I'm going to go with the Baha Men here. Hopefully he'll prove me wrong.

One can only hope that Smalligan can regain his form to escape this embarassing comparison.

Joe Mazzulla and The Killers still works.

I think I'd change Wellington Smith to a band that was wildly talented, but hadn't quite put all the pieces together yet. Velvet Revolver seems to fit.

John Flowers is a really hard one for me. Who can really say what it is that John Flowers will be for the Mountaineers? What he is is a guy that plays solid minutes, works hard, rebounds, plays defense, does the little things well. He also fills in a very valuable spot in the rotation for a position of need. Am I crazy for thinking Radiohead here? I just don't know.

Hope you all enjoyed Couch Mail. Keep this a running segment by submitting your questions to couchquestions@hotmail.com, and we'll keep posting them every week or so.

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Poster Thread
Posted: 2/26/2008 11:22 pm  Updated: 2/26/2008 11:25 pm
Staff Writer
Joined: 8/2/2006
From: DC
Posts: 414
 Re: COUCH MAIL- Basketball, Back to the Future, and the B...
Flowers is tough... so much easier when we could label Herbert as Rammstein. Radiohead has been around too long and has established themselves and are iconic. Flowers should be somebody who is relatively newer, puts out good hits, but still hasn't reached its potential...say, the White Stripes (without the complete lack of pigment of course).

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