Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Big E Hoops Weekend Preview: Game 2 - Purdue University vs. West Virginia University

As you can see, the quality of the games increase as Big E Hoops Weekend goes on, and we shift from the NEC to a Big Ten - Big East match up on Sunday afternoon.

Boiler Up
Official Name: Purdue University
Daily Onions Name: Purdon’t
Location: About 130 miles from Chicago, Indiana
Conference: The Big 10/11/12 or Legend/Leader?
Mascot: Boilermakers
Famous non-sports alumni: Neil Armstrong, astronaut; Seven Nobel Prize winners; Founder and CEO of C-Span, Brian Lamb.
Famous sports alumni: John Wooden, greatest coach ever; The Big Dog, Glenn Robinson; Drew Brees, New Orleans Saints Quarterback.
You might know them because….A perennial Top 25 team, the Boiler Makers used to be coached by Gene Keady, who had quite the hair situation going on, on top of his head. The clever student section even called themselves the Gene Pool. The past two seasons, Purdue has lost their best player Robbie Hummel to ACL injuries.
This year’s team: Coached by highly respected Matt Painter, in his 6th year, Purdue is currently ranked #8 in the country. The Boilermakers are at Minnesota on Thursday night before making the trip to WVU. To date, they are 15-1, 4-0 in conference, however they have not played anyone in the Top 25. The next two games should be great tests on the road.
Roster Check:Purdue depends on their two seniors to do much of the heavy lifting. Guard E'Twuan Moore averages 19ppg, 6rpg, 3apg, while forward JaJuan Johnson is a 19ppg and 8 rpg guy that shots close to 50% from the field. Keep your eye on Ryne Smith, a 6-3 guard that can hit from anywhere.
Best Player: JaJuan Johnson is pretty fun to watch. The 6-10, 221 lb string bean forward is one of the most versatile players in the college ranks. He can pretty much score from anywhere on the court, gets to the free throw line 6.5 times per game, and also blocks 2.5 shots per game on the defensive side of the floor. If the Mountaineers don't control Johnson, they'll have a tough time winning.

Almost Heaven
Official Name: West By God Virginia University
Daily Onions Name: WVU - Dub-V
Location: Dirty, West Virginia
Conference: Big East
Mascot: Mountaineers
Famous non-sports alumni: Emmy Award winner, Don Knotts; Lady Gaga's mom; John Chambers, President and CEO of Cisco Systems.
Famous sports alumni: Jerry West (NBA Logo); Pac-Man Jones, NFL cornerback and someone that likeded da scrip club; Andrew Luck’s Dad, Oliver (current WVU AD); Rod Thorn, President of Philadelphia 76ers.
You might know them because….you got Pittsnogled a few years ago in the NCAA tournament. Or you followed the Mountaineers run to the Final Four last year, led by senior Da'Sean Butler. Unfortunately Butler was injured in the semi-final game against Duke, and we all had to witness one of the more awkward moments in college basketball between Bob Huggins and Butler. Or you've hugged the person next to you in a bar while singing John Denver's Country Roads.
This year's team: After losing Butler and underachieving Devin Ebanks from last year's Final Four team, it was hard to tell what the Mountaineers would be this year. They struggled at times and have lost to Minnesota, Miami, St. Johns and Marquette - all games they very well could have won. Their biggest win of the season came on Saturday, when they went to Georgetown and out-grinded the Hoyas, winning by 6. Bottom line for the 'Eers, they lack the go to guy that they had the last two years with Butler. Kevin Jones was their top returning player, but he is the perfect #2 or #3 option on a team, not necessarily the #1 option. Luckily, they've had senior guard Casey Mitchell step up to take on most of the scoring (averages 17.6ppg), and he can shoot it from behind the arc.
Roster check: Senior guard Johnnie West is the son of WVU legend and NBA Hall of Famer, Jerry West. Guard Joe Mazzula is still on the team, even though it seems like he's been there for 8 years. Starting point guard Darryl Bryant, goes by "Truck".
Best player: From a pure scoring, take the shot at the end of the game standpoint, I think you go Mitchell.  From an all-around standpoint, a guy that you want on the court for all 40 minutes to do anything you need him to do, give me Kevin Jones.

Daily Onions Prediction: We are going to hold off on the actual game prediction until Friday, as we want to see how WVU and Purdue fair in their games tomorrow night. Some things that we can guarantee: Coach Huggins will be in his black pull over jacket and black pants, and if the Mountaineers do indeed win, there is a good chance we'll be having a few drinks with Hugs at a local watering hole after the game.

Coming Thursday/Friday: Preview of the main event - Syracuse vs. Pitt, and a guest blogger joins Daily Onions.

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