The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

March 8, 2010

Mountaineers play the waiting game at Big East tournament

Butler, Ebanks earn all-conference honors

By Dave Morrison
Register-Herald Sports Editor

BECKLEY — Now that West Virginia (24-6, 13-5 in the Big East) has achieved a double-bye into the quarterfinals of the Big East tournament, all that’s left is to wait.

Until Thursday.

The Mountaineers will wait on Thursday, too. All day.

WVU will face the winner of the Cincinnati/Rutgers winner vs. Louisville game at 9 p.m. Thursday at Madison Square Garden.

The game will be televised on ESPN.

All five West Virginia starters are New York City area natives.

One of them, Devin Ebanks, had his breakout games at The Garden last year, grabbing a career-high 18 rebounds in an opening round win over Notre Dame and then scoring 20 and then 22 against Pitt and Syracuse the next two nights.

“We don’t talk about (the fact they are all from the New York area),” Ebanks said. “I’m sure for everybody, like it is for me, it’s fun to go home and play in front of family and friends and have a chance to win the Big East championship.”

Dubbed the “Metroeers” by the New York Post, Ebanks did say the fact that the starters — Ebanks, Da’Sean Butler, Wellington Smith, Truck Bryant and Kevin Jones — are all from the same area creates a kinsmenship.

“It kind of created a bond,” Ebanks said. “We all hang out together, go places together and it relates to the court. We all play hard for each other.”

Should West Virginia win its opener — likely against Louisville — it would be set for a rematch with Pitt, the No. 2 seed on the other side of the bracket.

West Virginia beat Pitt in Morgantown but then lost the rematch in Pittsburgh in triple overtime.

West Virginia played once this season at The Garden, storming from a second-half double-digit deficit to beat St. John’s 79-60.

In other news, Butler was named to the All-Big East first team and Ebanks was named to the third team.

Butler, a 6-foot-7 forward, averaged a team-best 17.2 points per game and added 6.7 rebounds per game.

He was a second-team All-Big East performer last year.

Butler is just 43 points from 2,000 for his career and is already third all-time in scoring at the school behind Jerry West and Hot Rod Hundley.

Ebanks averaged 12.4 points per game (third on the team) and a team-best 8.3 rebounds.

— E-mail: demorrison@