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The star of the Big Dance was one of our own

March 31, 2005|by DAN KAUFFMAN

It's hard to believe the best individual story of the NCAA Tournament thus far is a kid many of us watched grow up and play at Martinsburg High School.

The only time I saw Kevin Pittsnogle play in high school was an early-season game his senior year. I must confess I don't recall much from that game - except one thing. I recall that, for a 6-foot-11 center, he sure could shoot.

Now, the entire nation knows.

Pittsnogle averaged 18 points and 5.5 rebounds per game in his four NCAA Tournament games, making 13 of 23 3-point attempts (56.5 percent), including 6 of 9 against Louisville in the regional final.

In doing so, he became a fixture on ESPN's Sportscenter and was mentioned in numerous national and online columns.

He became a darling of the tournament much the way West Virginia became this year's Cinderella, and in the process became the subject of one of the best signs ever held up at any sporting event: "You just got Pittsnogled!"

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Truth is, Pittsnogle had himself quite a season before the tournament even started - a season that took off for him when he scored 27 points in the Mountaineers' upset of Pittsburgh on Feb. 5.

Including that game, in the 12 games Pittsnogle played leading up to the NCAA Tournament, he averaged 16.3 points, tops on the team.

Excluding the Big East Tournament championship game against Syracuse, in which he only scored two points, Pittsnogle made 30 of 59 3-pointers in that stretch.

Add it all up, and it's a remarkable run for one of our area's own. It was rather enjoyable getting Pittsnogled.

ยท As for yours truly, well, another year, another real ugly bracket. I was in the running to win the office pool, until Illinois made that improbable comeback to topple my championship pick in Arizona.

I got 'Zona (underrated) and Duke (overrated) right. But I got Louisville (overrated) dead wrong and also missed on Gonzaga (underrated) and Connecticut (underrated), both of which made early exits.

It's all more proof that the Fearless Forecasters title I won last year was a complete fluke.




Dan Kauffman is a staff writer for The Morning Herald. His column appears every other Thursday. He can be reached at 301-733-5131, ext. 7520, or by e-mail at kauffman@herald-mail.com

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