Crutchfield’s Hilltoppers looking to keep No. 1 spot

By Marissa Wetterau, Sports Editor

  The men’s basketball team took over the No. 1 spot in the latest NCAA Division II national coaches’ poll.

       The Hilltoppers (6-0) picked up 15 of the 16 first-place votes to take over the No. 1 spot in the nation by a comfortable margin. West Liberty – which has won more games than any NCAA Division II program over the past 10 years – has now been ranked No. 1 at least once in each of the last six seasons. This is the 36th No. 1 national ranking for WLU, a total that ranks second all-time only to Kentucky Wesleyan’s 52.

       The Black and Gold have appeared in an NCAA Division II record 83 consecutive Top 25s dating back to Feb. 2, 2010 and have been in the Top 10 each week since Nov. 13, 2011. That’s the third-longest streak of unbroken Top 10 rankings since the NCAA Division II poll began during the 1960-61 season. Only Kentucky Wesleyan (70 consecutive weeks from 1997 to 2003) and Grambling (a record 76 straight from 1961 to 1967) have enjoyed longer stays in the Top 10.

      While West Liberty moved up from No. 2 to No. 1 this week, there was a major reshuffling behind the Hilltoppers as half of the teams ranked in the Top 10 a week ago lost at least once last week.

With the hilltoppers success so far at keeping the No. 1 spot, head coach Jim Crutchfield has already planned out the groundwork for the team’s future success.  Crutchfield now owns the highest winning percentage of any coach in NCAA men’s basketball history.

       He recently announced that three high school standouts have taken advantage of the NCAA’s early signing period. Chucky Humphries, a 6’5 forward from Aliquippa (Pa.) High School; Josh Carpenter, a 6’5 forward from Riverside (W.Va.) High School and Dalton Bolon, a 6’3 guard from Indian Valley (Ohio) High School will be headed for the Hilltop in the fall after wrapping up their high school careers this season.

       Coach Crutchfield commented on having these new recruits coming to campus next fall. “I think these guys are all great fits for our system,” Crutchfield said, “but the best thing about them is they all really wanted to come here. They actually reached out to us to start the recruiting process. They specifically sought us out. I really liked that.”

       With the newcomers coming up next season, the team now has to shift their focus to the rest of this season. The hilltoppers will take on the NABC No. 8 ranked Fairmont State Falcons in hopes to keep their No. 1 spot. Fairmont state is 5-0 with 263 points scored so far this season.

       The one player to look out for from Fairmont State, is senior guard Jamel Morris. Morris finished second on the team and seventh in the conference with 544 points (17.5/game), made the third-most, three-point field goals in a single season at Fairmont State (92), and finished second in the league in made three-point field goals (92). In the current season, Morris has 3 rebounds, about 2 assists, and an average of 12.2 points per game.

       The hilltoppers will take on Jamel Morris and his teammates Saturday, Dec. 5th in the ASRC. Tipoff is set for 4 p.m.



Be Sociable, Share!