WVUSports.com

Campus Connection: Poll Position

  • By John Antonik
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  • February 02, 2017 03:10 PM
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Monday marked the 207th appearance for West Virginia in the Associated Press men’s basketball rankings dating back to the first-ever poll put out on January 18, 1949.
 
That is 44th among all men’s programs in NCAA history, one behind Kansas State’s 208.
 
This week also marks the 29th consecutive poll appearance for coach Bob Huggins’ seventh-ranked Mountaineers, making it the second-longest poll streak in school history.
 
West Virginia made 55 straight poll appearances from March 6, 1956 to March 8, 1960, which basically encompasses the playing careers of All-Americans Hot Rod Hundley and Jerry West.
 
Eight times during that period the Mountaineers were ranked No. 1 from December 24, 1957 until March 11, 1958.
 
Including this week, West Virginia has made 92 appearances in the top 10, tied with Bradley for 42nd most in NCAA history.
 
Except for three weeks to begin the 2016 season, West Virginia has appeared in 46 of the last 49 AP polls dating back to November 24, 2014 (it's 49 straight in the USA Today coaches' poll), making this one of the longest periods of success in school history - in case you didn’t realize it.
 
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Kansas’ 73-68 victory over Baylor Wednesday night in Lawrence demonstrates yet again why the Jayhawks have dominated Big 12 play the last 12 years - Kansas is simply unbeatable at home.
 
KU overcame a six-point halftime deficit against the Bears to record its 51st consecutive victory in Allen Fieldhouse. The last time Kansas lost a game at Allen Fieldhouse was on January 5, 2014 when San Diego State upset the Jayhawks, 61-57.
 
The last time Kansas lost a league home game was February 2, 2013 when Oklahoma State outlasted KU, 85-80.
 
That’s incredible.
 
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Nathan Adrian
On his weekly Big 12 coaches’ teleconference, Bob Huggins touched on the improvement Oklahoma State has made since the Mountaineers’ 92-75 victory over the Cowboys on December 30, 2016 to begin conference play.
 
Oklahoma State is now 14-8, 3-6 following Monday night’s win at Oklahoma, and brings a four-game winning streak into Morgantown for Saturday evening’s game.
 
“They’ve changed a lot defensively,” Huggins said. “They’re still running offensively what they ran before but they’re obviously running it better and maybe with a few more wrinkles in it, but defensively they’ve changed a lot.”
 
More from Huggs’ weekly call …
 
- On the areas of play where he’s been most pleased: overall defense and half-court offense.
 
“I think we’re a much better half-court offensive team than what we were when the conference season started,” he said.
 
- On senior forward Nathan Adrian, coming off a 23-point, 11-rebound effort in Tuesday night’s win at Iowa State.
 
Huggins calls Adrian “the ultimate team guy.”
 
“He doesn’t mind taking a backseat to someone else,” Huggins said. “He’s made some effort plays to keep balls alive in certain situations that were really good for us. He’s the guy we count on to make a play when we need somebody to make a play.”
 
The Mountaineers are going to need another strong performance from Adrian and Co. on Saturday evening against Oklahoma State.
 
The game was announced a sellout back on January 12.
 
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Mike Carey
Mike Carey’s West Virginia women’s team also has a poll streak of its own going, now at 16 leading into this week’s action.
 
That matches the third-longest consecutive poll stretch in school history, which Carey’s team achieved from January 20, 2014 to December 22, 2014.
 
The longest streak was 27 straight weeks, spanning November 2, 2010 until February 21, 2011- also produced by Carey's Crew.
 
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A couple of notable takeaways from Dana Holgorsen’s Wednesday afternoon signing day news conference held inside the Milan Puskar Center:
 
1. The Mountaineers are not done recruiting for 2017
2. Newly hired offensive coordinator Jake Spavital will assume play-calling duties
 
Holgorsen on Spavital returning to WVU in an expanded role - “He wasn’t coming back here just to be a position coach. He has proven that he can be a coordinator. It’s his room and he will call the plays and do a great job of that.
 
“Now you know where I’m going to be - I’m going to be lurking, but I am not going to be questioning,” said Holgorsen. “He knows what I want. We will sit in a room and we will come up with a pretty good idea of where we want this thing to go. I’m excited about the personnel that we have coaching-wise on offense.”
 
As for seeking additional recruits, Holgorsen said that will continue.
 
“There are four-year transfers that you typically don’t know until after spring practice,” he said. “Whether it’s grad transfers, four-year transfers or whether it’s coach Wickline hitting all these JCs in May finding these late guys … we have found late guys before. Keep your eyes and ears open and you better have some room if you want to get some guys like (Florida transfer) Will Grier, or (Iowa transfer) Maurice Fleming we added last summer. Those guys have worked out pretty well. We will keep our eyes and ears open.”
 
So will we.
 
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The Big 12 signing day review from the Fort Worth Star-Telegram gives a big nod to Oklahoma, the Sooners pulling in a national top-10 class that features nine players from Texas.
 
The Longhorns finished No. 2, followed by Baylor, TCU and Oklahoma State.
 
West Virginia’s 21-player class was rated eighth, ahead of Kansas and Kansas State.
 
Rivals.com rated Oklahoma’s class with 18 four-star players seventh-best in the country - the only Big 12 school to finish in the top 25.
 
Texas, with eight four-star prospects, was ranked 31st nationally while Baylor closed strong with two four-star commitments to rank 34th nationally.
 
No Big 12 program managed to land a Rivals.com five-star prospect this year, for what it’s worth.
 
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Based on my quick calculations, 45 junior college football players so far will be joining the Big 12 for the 2017 season. Kansas leads the way with nine, followed by eight each from West Virginia and Texas Tech. Oklahoma State inked five JC players, with Iowa State taking four.
 
Nine out of the 10 Big 12 teams signed at least one JC player this year, Baylor being the lone program not to do so.
 
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John Pennington
John Pennington, who once made an amazing touchdown catch right before the end of the first half that led to an avalanche of points for the Mountaineers in the 2003 Backyard Brawl, was recently named head football coach at West Virginia State.
 
Pennington was the team’s offensive coordinator for the past two seasons for coach Jon Anderson, who took the University of Sioux Falls coaching job in December.
 
His Yellow Jacket staff is going to have a WVU flavor, too, with former Mountaineer Quincy Wilson coaching the running backs and ex-linebacker Reed Williams signed on to coach the linebackers.
 
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Pat McAfee
And finally, Pat McAfee, the NFL’s best punter for the Indianapolis Colts the last two seasons, is retiring from professional football at age 29 with two years remaining on a five-year, $14.5 million contract he signed in 2014.
 
McAfee on Twitter Thursday morning cited a recent knee surgery, his third, as one of the reasons for his early retirement.
 
Another is the opportunity to work for the popular satirical sports website Barstool Sports, which is planning to open a new office in Indianapolis that McAfee will oversee.
 
McAfee has one of the most popular Twitter accounts in professional football, frequently generating a buzz with his humorous tweets.
 
The Plum, Pennsylvania, native was a four-year letterman for West Virginia as a member of the Mountaineers’ 2006 Sugar, 2007 Gator, 2008 Fiesta and 2008 Meineke Bowl teams.
 
Have a great week!