By Mickey Furfari
Times West Virginian
Coach Bob Huggins believes West Virginia University should continue to play Pitt, Virginia Tech and Duquesne University in men’s basketball.
The series with the Hokies resumed Saturday afternoon and the Mountaineers will visit Duquesne for a game Tuesday. But the series with Pitt expired in 2011-12.
“Why can’t we keep playing schools we’ve been close rivals with for many years?” he asked the other day. “I am all for it! We played Virginia Tech (for example) 60-some consecutive years, then stopped playing.
“I just can’t understand why we can’t continue to play Pitt and Virginia Tech (regularly in non-conference games).”
The series with Duquesne’s Dukes resumed when Huggins became head coach here in 2007.
He recalled that he played against all three of these early rivals as a student here in 1975-76-77.
The WVU Coliseum was sold out for Saturday’s Virginia Tech contest. And you have to assume many of the spectators were from southern West Virginia.
“We have such great tradition with these schools,” Huggins explained. “So why not keep playing them?”
You’ve got to go all the way back to 1904 for the start of the so-called Backyard Brawl. The last meeting was a year ago. WVU leads Pitt 91-88.
The Virginia Tech series started in 1921. The teams last played in 2004 when the Hokies moved to the Atlantic Coast Conference with WVU leading the series 46-29.
Duquesne has been an opponent off and on since 1915. The Atlantic 10 school was last met in 2011-12 and trails in the rivalry by a 50-36 margin.
“A lot of the fans here Saturday were WVU students at one point or another, or are just longtime fans,” Huggins said. “When I played here, they pushed all of these rivalries.
“I thought then that Virginia Tech was every bit as good a rivalry as Pitt,” Huggins said.
Belated sympathy goes out to the Ned Poe family of Fairmont.
He died several days ago at the age of 72. He was widely known and respected for his lengthy career in agriculture and farming.
He was the father of Shelly and Jill Poe, both of whom are in athletic-related positions. Shelly now is in football communications at Auburn University and formerly at WVU and Ohio State.
Jill is assistant women’s basketball coach at East Carolina.
Best wishes to Mrs. Poe and her family.
A perennial gift favorite this time of year is Norman Julian’s book, “Legends: Profiles in WVU Basketball.” It provides the story of West Virginia University basketball and its most prominent personalities from 1939 to 1999.
The 212-page book profiles all the coaches from the 1942 NIT national championship team into the Gale Catlett era, the university’s first All-America basketball players and 13 of the greatest victories.
It contains pictures and a 10-page index.
Jerry West called it a “must buy” for any Mountaineer basketball fan.
The book is available at the Team Shop in the WVU Coliseum or by sending $19 to Tillium Publishing, 459 Kensington Ave., Star City, WV 26505.
The website is www.normanjulian.com.
Julian, a local columnist, gives part of the book sales proceeds to establish and support the Legends at WVU.