Broadcaster Caridi shares thoughts on WVU

Believes basketball team will be competitive

PARKERSBURG — The broadcasting voice behind West Virginia University’s two main spectator sports, Tony Caridi lives the Mountaineer fanatic’s dream as he works Mountaineer football and basketball games.

Yet, from one to another, he must broadcast from two different prospectives. “They are as different as night and day,” he said in describing the two sports.

“Football is a big team production. I’ve got binoculars in front of my face the entire day,” he said. “In basketball, there’s two guys on the floor with the crowd microphone. These guys are right in front of you the entire night.

“You see them run up and down the floor, you hear them right up and down the floor. There are times where you even smell them as they run past you,” Caridi stated. “Both sports are extremely different but both are enjoyable to be a part of.”

Caridi said the most obvious part of the 2018-19 team is replacing the production of Jevon Carter and Dexter Miles. “West Virginia will have a lot of depth,” he said and paused, “a lot of depth. A lot of Big 12 teams will play nine players in the rotation. Coach (Bob) Huggins will play 12 players and I have no doubt he can go 12 deep.

“He has a lot of talented players but a number of those players don’t have Big 12 experience playing the way Bob Huggins plays,” he said. “Will they instantly get that? Sometimes it takes time. If they can learn to play the way Huggs wants to play….” Caridi smiles as he knows if the Mountaineers play the ways Huggins wants to play, WVU will be challenge Kansas for the Big 12 title.

“There is plenty of optimism for the season,” he continued. “Preseason top 20 with Kansas being selected as the preseason favorite in the Big 12 but West Virginia is in the mix at the top. The question will be the guard play but the staff has done an excellent job of restocking the shelves.”

Huggins told ncaa.com he thought the Mountaineers may have one of the best frontcourts in the country in the upcoming season. WVU returns the beast in the middle of the group in 6-8 Sagaba Konate. There’s also 6-8 Esa Ahmad, 6-10 Derek Culver, 6-9 Andrew Gordon, 6-8 Wes Harris, 6-11 Logan Routt and 6-8 Lamont West.

It is the backcourt which is the issue.

James Bolden is a familiar name, a three-point threat who has been injured part of the summer. The backcourt has Chase Harler and new faces Trey Doomes, Matthews, Jordan McCabe and Jermaine Haley.

“Carter set the bar pretty high,” Caridi said. “He will definitely go down as one of the greatest players in the program’s history. It took Carter four years to get to that point. Others will have to be given the time to get there as well.”

Carter was a three-star recruit and averaged 17.4 points, 6.6 assists, 4.7 rebounds and three steals a game his senior season. He’s a four-time Big 12 all-defensive team member and two-time conference defender of the year.

He’s the fourth Big 12 player and first guard to have the Big 12 award twice. Carter is also the first major-college player and fifth player in Division I history to have more than 1,500 points, 500 rebounds, 500 assists and 300 steals.

He was the inaugural winner of the Naismith Defensive Player of the Year Award as well as a consecutive winner of the National Defensive Player of the Year award from the National Association of Basketball Coaches.

His top six offers according to his espn.com profile included, besides WVU, Dartmouth, Illinois State, Indiana State, Kent State and Mercer.

Caridi stated with the strong basketball schools surrounding West Virginia such as the Atlantic Coast Conference, Southeastern Conference and Big 10, “if you are West Virginia, you need to do things different,” he said. “The WVU job is a very difficult job because you have to go to other states to get your kids.

But the ‘Press Virginia’ is the brand now and that type of ball is what West Virginia is know for. Carter is classic West Virginia.,” he continued. “It’s ‘West Virginia can’t do this. West Virginia can’t do that.’ West Virginia goes ‘Oh yeah, watch me.'”

“West Virginia is very fortunate to be in the Big 12 right now,” he said. “You see Cincinnati, you see UConn. That could have been West Virginia in the American Athletic Conference.

“Just about everything with WVU and the Big 12 is a positive. The only down side we have is distance traveled. But everywhere we’ve gone, we’ve been treated well. And our fans have been exemplary in return.”

Caridi said as long as the injuries stay away, the Mountaineers will be in the hunt after two consecutive Sweet 16 appearances. “Huggs has a lot of players. Huggs has the bodies,” Caridi said. “As long as he has the bodies, he’s good to go.”