This is hard. I love spring. I love the basketball tournaments and the start of the baseball season. I even enjoy spring football.
I am an attendance geek and I am always fascinated by the fact that crowds of 60-80,000 fans usually turn out to watch spring football scrimmages at places like Alabama, Ohio State and Penn State.
I am thankful for how we are fighting this invisible enemy, but I will miss the sports excitement of spring. Having said that, here are a couple of random thoughts that are rolling around in my mind.
n With the loss of this week’s boys basketball state tournament, fans in our state missed another chance to see University High point guard Kaden Metheny. Last year, as a junior, he was almost flawless as he led his Hawks to a Class AAA state championship. University was the favorite to win AAA again this season, and winning back-to-back AAA titles would have put Metheny and the Hawks in elite company.
He is a good story. He understands how to play the game. Like most great point guards, he makes other players around him better, but he can also score. Fans in our state may not realize it, but he spent much of last summer, either outplaying or holding his own against bigger, more nationally rated guards. He never looked overmatched.
I am old enough to have seen Marshall coach Dan D’Antoni play at Mullens High School in the 1960s, and Metheny reminds me of him. To give a more modern comparison, he is a basketball version of Ryan Switzer. He is small, but plays with swagger, confidence and toughness. Metheny has signed to play at Bowling Green.
n Fans in our state also missed out on one last chance to see Chapmanville star Obinna Anochili-Killen play on a big stage. He and his Chapmanville Tigers have won the last two Class AA state titles.
He brought great athleticism and personality to the tournament. His engaging smile made him a fan and media favorite in Charleston. Many college recruiters think D’Antoni got a steal in getting him to sign at Marshall.
n In an odd way, the coronavirus may have saved the jobs of several of the nation’s college basketball coaches. This is normally the time of year when coaching changes are made, but administrators in college athletics have more important issues to worry about.
For example, in the Big 12, the seat has been very hot for Texas coach Shaka Smart. Smart’s overall record at Texas is well under .500 in conference play. Attendance in Austin has hit rock bottom. No one is coming to the games. Texas lost its last regular-season game 81-59 at home to seventh-place Oklahoma State.
The cancellation of the Big 12 tournament may have saved Smart another bad loss and may have saved his job.