PSU, WVU team for good cause

Commentary

Kudos to all involved with the Penn State-West Virginia men’s basketball exhibition game Nov. 3 in Morgantown, W.Va., that will be televised by AT&T Sportsnet Pittsburgh.

The made-for-charity and scooped-up-for-TV event offers a nice feel-good vibe.

While game time remains up in the air — either noon, 2 or 4 p.m. (it will be announced early this week once football game times are solidified) — it’s a nice event, with proceeds from the matchup at the WVU Coliseum benefitting American Red Cross hurricane relief efforts.

Penn State and WVU have not met in basketball since January 1991, when the Nittany Lions beat WVU, 66-63, in Morgantown. Before that, the teams met at least once each year from 1936 to 1991.

Both the Penn State and WVU football teams play road games that day, with the Nittany Lions at Michigan and the Mountaineers at Texas.

So, a noon tip for the basketball game could be a strong possibility.

Brennan’s best

Belated kudos to Mark Brennan of Lions247 (fightonstate.com) for asking the relevant questions of coach Patrick Chambers right away during Penn State men’s basketball media day, which fell shortly after it became public that the team’s starting center, Mike Watkins, had again been involved in some off-the-court troubles.

While Watkins’ behavior might not have gotten a normal student expelled, the fact that he’s a repeat offender — while Chambers labeled him as an “attitude king” at practice — was a stark contrast.

Chambers asked for patience with the legal process and pushed back a bit, arguing that Watkins needed the family style and structure of the program because of his home life and upbringing.

Still, Brennan’s questions were appropriate and important.

Waiting on Watkins

Penn State play-by-play man Steve Jones, who handles football and men’s basketball and serves as one of the most visible people associated with Penn State Athletics because of those duties, also chimed in on the Watkins situation during his weekday radio show.

“Mike needs the structure of it. He needs the locker room, the coaching staff. … I’m thinking about Mike here, not talking basketball. That factor that needs to be taken into consideration here. … For the world that wants to drop him through the hoop of life, slow down. It’s awfully easy to sit far away. When you’re closer, you realize there are other factors that come into play.”

On Friday, Watkins posted a blog saying he deals with mental illness.

Mic men

We’re a few weeks away from action for Penn State wrestling and when that happens it will only add to the strength of the radio play-by-play lineup calling blue-and-white varsity sports.

With Jones on football and men’s basketball, Brian Tripp on hockey and Jeff Byers on wrestling, Penn State fans benefit from three of the best in their respective sports calling the games.All three are always well prepared before the game, steady once it begins, and then they generally complement that with which the right touch of emotion.

Tuner tidbits

n Golf analyst and former U.S. Open champion Johnny Miller, 71, announced his retirement as a TV analyst, effective in February. He’s been the lead golf analyst for NBC Sports for 29 years. He’ll be replaced by Paul Azinger, the top analyst for Fox who will work for both networks in that role.

Sampsell can be reached at stevesampsell@gmail.com.

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