By Mickey Furfari
For The Register-Herald
Paul Witting, a New Jersey native, had a ready answer when asked whether he enjoyed playing basketball at West Virginia in 1953 through 1956.
“All of the good things that happened in my life were a result of my going to WVU,” the 6-foot-7, 195-pound center said. “That’s the truth.”
Witting, who has lived in Michigan since 1975, played two years for coach Red Brown and his last two for coach Fred Schaus.
Witting contributed to records of 19-7 in 1952-53, 12-7 in 53-54, 19-11 in 54-55 and 21-9 in 1955-56. He served as team captain in his senior season.
The Mountaineers won Southern Conference Championships Wittings’ last two years and earned automatic berths in the NCAA Tournament both years.
It was as a freshman Witting played in his most memorable game. He scored 17 points and pulled down 14 offensive rebounds, leading WVU to an 89-86 victory over Richmond on Feb. 17, 1953 in the Old Field House (now known as Stansbury Hall.)
“Keep in mind that I was a freshman,” Witting stated. “I also got to some defensive rebounds. But only Mark Workman had more rebounds (15) in the school’s history.”
Witting, who’s now 78, has been retired 20 years. He spent 30 years selling office furniture for a large company which treated him very well.
He was pleased with his career. The firm he worked for was named Steel Case Co.
Witting recalled that WVU invited him as a senior in Union (N.J.) High School to sit on its bench when the Mountaineers upset nationally ranked NYU 100-75 on Jan. 3, 1952 in Madison Square Garden.
He also remembers the Penn State games he played in because it was led by a two-sport All-American African American athlete Jesse Arnelle was a center in basketball and an end in football.
Paul and wife Joan have been married for 55 years. She is a Charleston native who also graduated in 1956. She got a degree in economics and taught in school.
They have two grown children — daughter Tamala, 53, and son Dean, 50. There also are four grandchildren.
Paul really enjoyed playing basketball with Hot Rod Hudley, known widely then as the “Clown Prince of College Basketball.”
“Hudley was a wonderful player,” Witting said. “He didn’t act like he was any better than anybody else on our team. He was a very down-to-earth guy.
“But everyone knew Rod was very talented and respected him,” he added.
For his four-year career, Witting played in 98 games, made 243 of 549 field goal attempts, cashed 245 free throws in 368 tries and finished with 731 points (7.5 per game average).
He also had 471 rebounds (9.8 per game) and 4.9 assists per game.
Statisticians didn’t keep blocked shots or steals yet in the 1950s. But Witting probably got some of those, too, while playing against taller, heavier centers in fast-breaking competitions.