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Posted by John Antonik on Tuesday, March 31, 2009
(3:54 pm)
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  Bill Stewart

Years ago they used to call it the Breakfast Club. I’m not sure what they call 6 a.m. practices today, but Bill Stewart is taking a page out of John Chaney’s book with some early risers this spring.

“We started taping today at 5:15,” Stewart said. “It was an early wake up and people say it doesn’t carry over from the class room, training room and study hall to the football field absolutely have no idea what they are talking about. It all carries over to the football field.”

Stewart said no snooze buttons were hit.

“I’m most appreciative of how the Mountaineers responded today,” he said.

The reason for the early practice was because of late afternoon class conflicts. In the past, players were excused from practice whenever they had a class conflict. Stewart figured the best way to have a full team at practice was to get the team up early.

The coach said the team may have a pair of early practices next week.

***

Some of Stewart’s Tuesday morning practice observations …

  • “It wasn’t a heavyweight battle out there but there was some slugs going on – we’ll call it a welterweight battle,” he said.

  • Stewart was pleased with the offense’s performance in third and short situations. “It was really good to see that,” he said. “Offense had a little bit of an edge.”

    Stewart said the offense ran the two-minute drill for the first time this spring. “It looked like the first time we ran it. The defense absolutely got after the white shirts so the blue shirts won that overwhelmingly,” he said.

     
      Bradley Starks

  • Wide receiver Bradley Starks was cleared to practice in a white shirt (full contact) but he will continue to be held out of throwing drills.

  • H-Back Will Johnson was full-go today after being limited on Saturday.

  • Scooter Berry and Chris Neild performed well this morning pushing the pocket back in pass rush situations. “Those two are beating our offensive linemen up,” Stewart said.

  • Linebacker Reed Williams did not practice today because of illness. “I told them to keep him down there (in the training room) because I don’t want anyone else getting sick,” Stewart said.

  • Pat Lazear has been performing well at sam linebacker and has been working along side Williams and J.T. Thomas with the first group. “Pat Lazear is coming and that’s good to see,” Stewart said.

    Meanwhile, redshirt freshman Jeffrey Braun is presently working with the ones at right guard. The rest of the first group is comprised of sophomore Josh Jenkins at left guard, Selvish Capers and Don Barclay at tackles and Eric Jobe at center. Stewart mentioned that redshirt freshman Joe Madsen is playing both center and guard.

    “They’re coming but we still have a long road ahead,” Stewart said.

    ***

    It’s rare when West Virginia gets a state player of the year from Pennsylvania. It’s doubly rare when the Mountaineers pull the Keystone State’s top player in two different sports.

    But that’s what Bob Huggins and Craig Turnbull have done.

    Basketball signee Dalton Pepper, a 6-foot-5 guard from Pennsbury High School in Fairless Hills, averaged 24.4 points per game to earn Class 4A player of the year honors. Pepper has led Pennsbury to the state playoffs four straight years and has scored 2,207 points and grabbed nearly 1,000 rebounds for his career.

    Shane Young, from Penn Trafford High School, was named the Ronald L. Garrison Pennsylvania Wrestler of the Year as selected by the Wrestling Report.com. Young compiled a 153-19 record and claimed three PIAA championships.

    ***

    The women’s team signed four players during the early signing period and all four players wound up having outstanding senior seasons.

    Six-four center Asya Bussie averaged 16 points and 11 rebounds per game to lead Seton Keough to the Maryland state catholic league title. Bussie, who scored more than 1,700 points and grabbed more than 1,000 rebounds for her career, was named the Baltimore Sun All-Metro Girls player of the year.

    Joining Bussie on the Sun all-metro team is Western High School guard Akeema Richards, who led her team with averages of 13.2 points, 5.9 rebounds and 2.6 steals per game against a schedule that included six nationally ranked teams.

    Guard Antisha Wright led Lake Worth Christian High School to a state championship and was named Florida Class A player of the year.

    And 6-2 power forward Kyra Crosby from McEachern High School in Powder Springs, Ga., was recently named to the Georgia Class 5A all-state team.

    ***

    Joe Alexander scored a season-high 16 points in Milwaukee’s 107-78 win over New Jersey Monday night. Alexander has made 52 appearances this year and is averaging 4.6 points per game. Look for Alexander to see expanded action with Milwaukee now out of playoff contention.

    ***

    With the winter sports season almost complete, West Virginia has moved into 26th place in the Directors’ Cup standings after rifle’s NCAA championship. Last year, West Virginia placed 30th and two years ago the Mountaineers were 57th.

    ***

    For just the second time ever, basketball averaged more than 10,000 fans in consecutive seasons. West Virginia averaged 10,552 for its 14 home dates in 2009 after averaging 10,062 during Bob Huggins’ first season in 2008.

    The only other time West Virginia had back-to-back 10,000-plus years came in 1982-83. West Virginia’s average attendance this year was the second highest in school history (11,384 in 1982 for 15 dates).

    The only other time the Mountaineers averaged more than 10,000 was during the 2006 season (10,402).

    ***

    The Big East got two teams in the Men’s Final Four (Connecticut and Villanova) and it could also get two teams in the Women’s Final Four. Louisville punched its ticket with a 77-60 victory over top-seeded Maryland yesterday, and No. 1-ranked Connecticut is looking to reach its seventh Final Four in the last 10 years when if faces Arizona State in tonight’s the regional finals.

    That’s a pretty good send off for retiring Commissioner Michael Tranghese.

    ***

    Riddle me this, Batman: How does a school like Ohio State wind up in the red? Well, in order to do that the Buckeyes had to spend more than $110 million, which is what Ohio State usually brings in each year. To compensate for that, the Buckeyes are going to raise ticket prices $1 per game in football and men’s basketball.

    That should go over well in state with an unemployment rate approaching 10 percent. And if GM and Chrysler tank, you can probably add at least 5 to that number.

    Enjoy your week.