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Mitch Vingle: Huggins, Duhon and a ‘wild’ West Virginian

Mitch Vingle

The views from here:

Within West Virginia, there were more references to hips last week than when Shakira joined “The Voice.”

The reason, of course, is that Mountaineer coach Bob Huggins had a hip replaced, joining other celebs like George H. W. Bush, Billy Joel, Jane Fonda, Regis Philbin, Eddie Van Halen, Mike Ditka and Journey’s Steve Perry, who also underwent the procedure.

Huggins had his right hip replaced at UPMC Shadyside in Pittsburgh last Monday, but made it back to his home in Morgantown on Thursday.

“I feel good, I really do,” said the coach on Friday.

Huggins said the operation went well and he’s now rehabilitating at home after initial therapy in the hospital. He added that he’s walking with help.

“The hip just wore out,” said the coach.

No timetable has been set for his return to the court.

n While on the subject of basketball coaches, I have to mention a sitdown talk I had with new Marshall assistant coach Chris Duhon.

As you know, Thundering Herd athletic director Mike Hamrick surprised many by hiring Dan D’Antoni, who followed up with the surprise hire of Duhon.

The assistant has no coaching experience. He has no experience in the contact-driven world of recruiting.

Still, Duhon could be a gem.

He is very articulate and intelligent. And he has a wealth of basketball knowledge.

Consider that he was Mr. Basketball in Louisiana. He was a McDonald’s All-America selection. He was recruited by Mike Krzyzewski and starred at Duke, where the Blue Devils won a national title in 2001 and later hit the Final Four.

He played for the Chicago Bulls until 2008 before signing a two-year deal with the New York Knicks for close to $12 million. After, he signed a four-year deal with Orlando for $15 million.

He was part of the blockbuster deal that sent Dwight Howard to Los Angeles. Last year at this time he was still on the Lakers roster before being waived.

Anyway, Duhon is low-key, but should be quite an asset to D’Antoni in regard to teaching and advising players. He knows of what he speaks.

And there’s a kicker. The guy has a heart. In 2005, his Stand Tall Foundation handed out more than 3,000 boxes of supplies worth more than $450,000 to folks in his hometown of Slidell, La., in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.

n Follow-up story: After accepting D’Antoni’s offer, Duhon was filling out the necessary paperwork, including that with his new salary.

“I kept looking at it, wondering if there were commas and decimal points misplaced,” he joked.

n If you’re a golf fan, you can flip on a PGA Tour event and tell in seconds whether it has a decent field or if it’s filled with no-names.

This week, Jim Justice and crew made sure The Greenbrier Classic won’t be the latter.

Of course, the boldest stroke was made last year, when Justice signed Bubba Watson to “Team Greenbrier,” assuring his participation this year. All he’s done is win two Masters tournaments in three years. It was then announced that 2013 Masters runner-up Jason Day and 2012 U.S. Open winner Webb Simpson will participate. Among the world’s ranked players, Watson is No. 3, while Day is No. 7 and Simpson is No. 31.

Those names, along with assurance that Tom Watson would play, was a nice start.

Then word came out this past week that Nick Faldo would climb out of the TV booth and play. Also announced were commitments from major champions Angel Cabrera, Darren Clarke, Retief Goosen, Trevor Immelman and Vijay Singh.

If you go by world rankings, the new commitments aren’t sparkling. The highest ranking of them is Cabrera’s No. 102 spot. But sometimes rankings mean little when it comes to interest.

Golf fans know those names. And do you think anyone cares that Faldo is ranked No. 1,557?

n And finally ...

West Virginians are wonderful, but, yes, we can also be a little wild.

This past week Colorado and Atlanta were playing baseball at Coors Field in Denver when Rockies hitter Corey Dickerson hit Braves catcher Gerald Laird with his backswing, setting off a string of events that led to several ejections.

The most inflammatory of the events was set off by former East Fairmont High and WVU standout David Carpenter, now a pitcher with the Braves. Right after Atlanta replaced Laird with Evan Gattis at catcher, Carpenter plunked Dickerson with the next pitch.

The Fairmont native was ejected and Rockies manager Walt Weiss bolted from the dugout and screamed at Carpenter. (“I just tried to run another fastball in,” Carpenter later said. “It ended up cutting on me and caught him.”)

Whatever the case, it’s another reminder of Carpenter’s success. The 6-foot-2, 230-pound righty was All-Big East as a catcher for WVU and spent two years in the minors at the position before switching to pitcher in 2008.

Last season, Carpenter had a 1.78 earned run average in 56 games, 10th best among major league relievers. He had 74 strikeouts in 65  2/3 innings pitched. He entered the weekend with a 4-1 record and a 4.62 ERA in 31 games with two saves.

Reach Mitch Vingle at 304-348-4827, mitchvingle@wvgazette.com or follow him at twitter.com/MitchVingle.


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