GENERALLY, when people see Ryan Switzer in street clothes for the first time, they all have the same reaction. "Gee, I didn't know he was that small,'' is the way most reactions go. But make no mistake about Switzer, the Kennedy Award winning running back from George Washington who last week announced he would be accepting a football scholarship at North Carolina. He may only stand 5-foot-10 and weigh 172 pounds, but he's plenty tough. Switzer, in fact, made it through his entire junior season without missing any appreciable playing time despite the fact he played virtually the entire game - offense (tailback), defense (secondary), and served as both punter and kickoff specialist while returning punts and kickoffs. Playing 14 games against the toughest competition the state has to offer at the Class AAA level, Switzer carried the ball 298 times as GW's chief offensive weapon. Only once did he attempt fewer than 16 rushing plays in a game - that being nine in a 42-7 first-round playoff win against Spring Valley. So don't be so quick to label Switzer as an injury waiting to happen - either during his senior season with the Patriots or during his collegiate career at Chapel Hill. "I try to do a good job preparing my body,'' Switzer said recently. "Whether I'm hurt or not is not up to me. I'm OK with that. All I can do is prepare myself well, and that leads to less big hits. I don't think I've ever taken a real big shot. I'm blessed with vision and all those things that help with that. It's not up to me, but I'm ready for it.''
Seeing Danny Manning walk the sideline at the NCAA men's championship Monday as an assistant coach for Kansas brought to mind the last time I saw Manning in the title game - and one of my favorite quotes that came following the game.
Manning and Kansas, of course, knocked off favored Oklahoma for the 1988 NCAA championship that night even though the Sooners had beaten the Jayhawks twice during the regular season.
Moments after the game, one bold reporter approached Sooners coach Billy Tubbs, one of the more animated and tightly-wound coaches of his day, and made the mistake of asking Tubbs about his emotions.
"I mean, if a guy was just in a car wreck,'' Tubbs blurted, "you guys would stick [a microphone] in his face and ask him how he felt.''
Before we get too far removed from boys basketball season, a few loose-leaf items from a season of coverage:
Jan. 18 - The St. Joseph Invitational first-round contest was supposed to be one of the last games played at the Veterans Memorial Field House in Huntington, which was set to come down to make way for a Marshall soccer complex. But Charleston Catholic and Wesley Christian (Ky.) only made it through 1 minute and 14 seconds at the venerable site before officials stopped the game because of a slippery floor. Catholic started 0-of-3 and Wesley 0-of-1 and the game was scoreless when the decision was made to move it to St. Joseph High School down the street.
Feb. 4 - The playing of the national anthem prior to the Princeton at Hurricane game hit a snag and the recording wasn't going to cooperate. So some people in the crowd recruited the mother of Redskins junior guard Rasaan Harris to come out of the stands and sing. She displayed a lovely voice but was a bit rusty on the words, so midway into the song she coaxed Rasaan out of the team lineup on the floor to help her finish. By the end of the anthem, the entire crowd was providing vocal support.
Feb. 24 - Play was halted during the Tolsia at Herbert Hoover game because a fan in the Rebels cheering section had gotten under the skin of one of the game officials, who said the game wouldn't continue until the fan - who turned out to be the father of Tolsia player Morgan Stacy - was ejected. Hoover athletic director Steve Stoffel Sr. had to make the long walk across the floor to ask the fan to join him outside.
March 7 - Another heave-ho, this time during the Buffalo at Charleston Catholic Class A sectional game. A fan's hollering got the attention of one game official, who halted the game and asked Catholic AD Bill Gillispie, seated at the scorer's table, to remove the offender. It turned out to be the daughter of Buffalo coach Chuck Elkins.
March 14 - Shortly after the third overtime tipped off in the epic game between Tolsia and Magnolia in the AA state tournament quarterfinals, officials noticed something was wrong. The players had lined up going in the wrong direction, so that when Magnolia got the tip and thought it had advanced the ball into the frontcourt, it had actually stepped into the backcourt, which would be a violation. A whistle stopped play after a couple seconds and, following a lengthy discussion among the officiating crew, Magnolia was awarded the ball out of bounds and the teams were pointed in the right direction.
Reach Rick Ryan at 304-348-5175 or email@example.com.