The best team in the state

One of, if not the best sports teams in West Virginia that you probably have not heard anything about this season or last is seeking to finish as national champs. At the time of this writing the March Madness field of 64 has been reduced to only eight. Marshall? WVU? No, I’m talking about the No. 1 team in the country, the D-II West Liberty men’s basketball team, coached by Clarksburg native Jim Crutchfield.

Why should you care? Can a college coach who does not scream at his players and the referees win on a consistent basis? Consider a few facts. West Liberty has won more than 20 games in all of Crutchfield’s nine seasons and have won more than 30 games each of the last three seasons. They have averaged more than 100 points a game for four seasons straight, are the first team to win the Atlantic Region three years straight, have been ranked No. 1 nationally at some time in each of the last three years, and have a coach with the winningest percentage of all active NCAA coaches at any level!

Why do they win? Because they recruit players who think fast, play smart, run, press, average over 80 possessions a game, play like a team, and the entire team, from top to bottom, can shoot from anywhere on the court. Oh, yeah, and they have bought into coach Crutchfield’s system of “No cussing, no whining, and no showboating.”

Two wins in Louisville and one in Atlanta April 7, and they are the national champs. Win or lose, they are the best team in West Virginia and the best story that you have not heard. I will always be a WVU fan, but West Liberty would beat them and I am a little tired of the big business D-1 has become.

Bigger is not always better. It not all about D-1. Too bad the newspapers are not telling the sports fans about them.

John Fansler