Welcome to “Second Guess” Tuesday.
Geez, where do I start?
n The West Virginia University and Marshall University basketball programs both pulled off a remarkable feat.
The Mountaineers and Thundering Herd each ended the 2019-20 season with a win.
“That’s very unusual,” said Marshall head coach Danny D’Antoni.
WVU defeated Baylor, 76-64, in the WVU Coliseum in the final regular-season game of the season. Then, Marshall beat UTEP, 86-78, in a first-round game of the Conference USA Tournament in Frisco, Texas.
“We did get one game in the tournament,” said D’Antoni.
The Mountaineers weren’t as fortunate. They were in Kansas City, Missouri, ready to compete in the Big 12 tournament after a first-round bye, but the coronavirus scare led to the cancellation of the tournament.
That, however, doesn’t diminish an accomplishment, which is very difficult to achieve.
In a normal college basketball season, only seven collegiate programs end the year with a victory. There are the national champions in NCAA Division I, Division II and Division III. There also is the NAIA national champion. Then, there are the champions of the NIT, the College Basketball Invitational (CBI) and the CollegeInsider.com postseason tournament (CIT).
It’s only those seven, normally.
So, it’s a very elite group.
The interesting part is Marshall has finished two consecutive seasons with a victory. The Thundering Herd accomplished it in 2018-19, by accepting a bid to the CIT and, then, defeating IUPUI, 78-73; Presbyterian, 83-66; Hampton, 80-78; and, finally, a win over Green Bay, 90-70, in the championship game.
WVU wasn’t quite as fortunate. The Mountaineers won its first-round game in the CBI, defeating Grand Canyon, 77-63, but then WVU lost to Coastal Carolina, 109-91, in the quarter-finals.
The fact remains, however, that WVU and Marshall both ended this shortened season with a win.
That’s the surreal scenario these coronavirus circumstances have created.
n Where will Brandon Knapper end up?
That’s a very interesting question. I just wish I had an equally interesting answer. But, instead, my only insight is limited to where the former WVU guard, who has entered the NCAA transfer portal, won’t end up.
There has been some speculation about the possibility of that happening, but Marshall sources quickly debunked those rumors. Since junior guard Jarrod West excelled at running the point during his first real opportunity last season, the point guard position will be in good hands in 2020-21.
And don’t forget about Andrew Taylor, who is a natural point guard. The 6-3 redshirt freshman missed the first semester as a transfer, but averaged 10.1 points while starting 23 games and was impressive enough to make Conference USA’s All-Freshman team.
So, Marshall doesn’t have a need at point guard.
As for Knapper, he possesses undeniable talent. At one point during WVU’s 2019-20 season, he and true freshman Miles “Deuce” McBride were the Mountaineers’ most productive combination in the backcourt.
But, then, Knapper seemed to fall out of favor and his playing time diminished to an average of only 8.1 minutes. The 6-0 sophomore played only two minutes in the Mountaineers’ season-ending victory over Baylor.
The hand-writing obviously was on the wall and Knapper read it loud and clear.
The former South Charleston High School star and one-time Gazette-Mail Kanawha Valley Player of the Year is talented. Knapper simply needs to find the right program.
A place where he can play shooting guard.