CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Many in the Mountain State have been focused on the plight of WVU football or basketball. Or they've been watching the rise of Doc Holliday's football program at Marshall. Or maybe they've been checking out the fortunes of MU basketball.
What many of us have missed, though, is the start of a new regime at the University of Charleston.
A successful start, that is, of a new regime.
Understand that when Dwaine Osborne was named to succeed Mark Downey as UC's men's basketball coach, it was met with a collective yawn.
Osborne was hired with a 77-115 overall record. UC athletic director Bren Stevens said Osborne had "great character," yet his hire from the University of Texas at the Permian Basin left many in the community scratching their heads.
So far, however, so good for Osborne and the Golden Eagles. They won two games in the Shepherd Tip-Off Classic, one of those against a good Slippery Rock team picked to finish third in the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference.
The Golden Eagles fell by just 89-76 to the nation's No. 1 Division II team, West Liberty. They are 4-1 headed into tonight's 7:30 home game against Fairmont State, picked to finish second in the Mountain East Conference.
Despite the start, it's understood that Osborne and company have a rugged road ahead. Tonight, ex-WVU assistant Jerrod Calhoun leads his Falcons into Eddie King Gym. Calhoun, now assisted by ex-WVU standout Joe Mazzulla, has Logan's Stevie Browning leading the way. But the Falcons also have players like Duquesne transfers Martins Abele (a 7-foot-1 center) and Mamadou Datt (a 6-9 forward) coming off the bench.
Also, Osborne and UC will have to start fighting a battle for fans and recruits in Charleston as West Virginia State prepares to open its new arena. So Osborne has to battle the likes of West Liberty and Fairmont, the new facility in Institute and, well, his anonymity.
He's starting by getting to know his players, most holdovers from the Downey era.
"We've been trying to do a lot of team things, spending time together off the floor," said Osborne. "A lot of that is getting to know guys: who they are, what they've been through in their lives, what makes them tick.
"I try to figure out what motivates them as well as get as much done as possible on the floor. The tricky thing with that is no one - not even the couple I've brought in - had ever played one play for me or been through one practice. They didn't know my drills, much less the system."
Osborne, though, seems to be getting along with the team.
"They were giving me a hard time the other day," said the UC coach. "When I get frustrated at practice, I'll say, 'Hey, what are we doing? What ARE we doing? We look like we're running a circus!' So they were making fun of me in the locker room, asking, 'What are we doing, coach? What ARE we doing?'
"They've been fun. It's been great."
Osborne admits he doesn't have a feel for how the Golden Eagles will fare. He coached at Glenville, but that was four years ago.
"I couldn't ask for more in regard to effort though," Osborne said. "I think one of the things that's helped is the players like each other. They genuinely like being around each other. They care about each other."
Osborne's team offensive style?