Southern West Virginia has produced some coaching geniuses over the years, particularly in basketball. I hesitate to name any since I would undoubtedly leave some out who are deserving to be included.
Nevertheless, everyone knows how talented Willie Akers, Harry Kirk, Jennings Boyd, Jason Kingery and Mark Hatcher are. They immediately come to mind when a discussion of great coaches comes up.
Another who always crosses my mind is former St. Albans and University of Charleston Coach Tex Williams. Like the others, Williams was born to be a basketball coach. The natural talent he had for leading a team was an amazing thing to watch. As I have said, coaches like the ones I named have an inherent ability to inspire their teams.
I’ve said Kirk and Akers knew where every player was on the court all the time. If they don’t have eyes in the back of their heads, they have some other way of keeping up with everyone. They also seemed to know what the other team’s coach had planned, perhaps even before he did.
All of this is a prelude to the noon opening the past Monday of the Tex Williams Museum in Artie, Raleigh County. East Bank and West Virginia University star Jerry West and Akers were scheduled to cut the ribbon.
The museum is said to have been a “passion” for Williams, who is locating it in the old homeplace where his mother served as postmistress. The ex-St. Albans coach has told reporters he wants to honor his mom’s memory with the facility.
A host of other former greats were scheduled to be in the small community for the official opening. Included were Chris Smith, the former Charleston High and Virginia Tech star; Lewis D’Antoni, the 100-year-old former Mullens High coach; Howard Hunt, a former Beckley Woodrow Wilson and Duke standout; Dwayne Wingler, another Woodrow star who went on to the University of Kentucky; Sonny Allen, a former Marshall star; Don Nuckols, who won numerous state championships in leading Mullens High; Donnie Smith, who played at Dayton and coached Huntington Vinson to a state title; Joey Holland, the car dealer who played at Kentucky; Greg Hawkins, late of Huntington High and North Carolina State; Henry Dickerson, a star at Morris Harvey (now University of Charleston); and Tim DiPiero, who played for Huntington’s St. Joseph Central Catholic.
The museum, once in full operation, will be a grand place to remember the history and excitement of Mountain State basketball, with a special emphasis on its Southern West Virginia roots.
* * * * * *
Hats off to the Madison All-stars, winners of the 11-12-year-old Little League district 2 baseball tournament at Chapmanville Regional High School. Their closing triumph, a 12-2 win over Mullens, showed in no uncertain terms the dominance of the locals.
The win puts Madison in this week’s Little League state tournament, also at Chapmanville. The 14-team tourney field will play on Tracy Vickers Field and Ronnie Ooten Field next to CRHS.
Pool play is Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Four pools then advance to Monday’s single-elimination state tournament field. The quarter-finals are on Tuesday with the semi-finals set for Wednesday before the finals on Thursday. The West Virginia state champ then goes on to the Southeast Regional at Warner Robins, Georgia.
All of Boone County is rooting for Madison to go all the way.
* * * * * *
University of Southern Pennsylvania officials are moaning about lower season ticket sales. Nevertheless, many of the Mountaineer faithful insist sales will pick up for individual games once WVU shows what a winning team they have in 2014.
I have no idea where the inspiration for those wins come from, of course. As long as Holgorsen and Luck are in charge, WVU will be “outta luck,” although not with a capital “L.”
* * * * * *
Meanwhile, Marshall, pushing to make the top 25 in pre-season polls, would surely be ranked in the top ten if they ran the table in 2014. Many are predicting that this will be the break-out year for Coach Doc Holliday and crew.
Frankly, as a Herd fan, I doubt it. The former WVU assistant still does not have me convinced he can coach in game conditions. He looks good on the field and he makes a good speech to civic clubs, but I believe MU could do better.
* * * * * *
Your comments, game scores, story ideas and rumors are always welcome. Use the email listed or call my cell, 304-533-5185.