New dad Pittsnogle delivers for Mountaineers
On Friday afternoon, Kevin Pittsnogle became a daddy. On Saturday afternoon, he was back to being the Mountaineer Mac Daddy, writes Pat Forde.
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. -- On Friday afternoon, Kevin Pittsnogle became a daddy. On Saturday afternoon, he was back to being the Mountaineer Mac Daddy.
Less than 19 hours after Pittsnogling the delivery room, the man-verb who plays shooting center for Big East-leading West Virginia did it to Cincinnati, dropping four trademark 3-pointers on the Bearcats in a 66-57 victory.
"We will always recruit centers who can shoot, but I don't know if we will ever see another one like Kevin," coach John Beilein said. "And he can deliver babies at the same time."
Actually, the process took about 40 arduous hours to complete. Pittsnogle's wife, Heather, went into labor Thursday night, and they both spent the night in the hospital. At 5:31 p.m. Friday afternoon, she delivered a 22-inch, 9-pound, 5-ounce boy named Kwynsie James via Caesarean section. ("I thought of the name, she thought of the spelling," Kevin said.)
At noon Saturday, exhausted-but-elated dad was walking out to the center jump circle.
"It's probably the best feeling I've ever had in my life," Pittsnogle said.
It was a nice feeling for all the Mountaineers fans, too. While this has been a great basketball season, the real world has been nothing but sadness in West Virginia: There have been 16 mining deaths in recent weeks, casting a pall over the state.
Fortunately, the state university has provided a pleasant sporting diversion. And Saturday, after all the mourning that has followed those deaths, the state folk hero from Martinsburg, W.Va., and his wife gave everyone a birth to celebrate.
West Virginia's leading scorer had been text-messaging updates on the baby's progress to Beilein on Thursday night and during the day Friday. The Mountaineers practiced Friday afternoon without Pittsnogle, and didn't know for sure until that night that he would play. When the baby and his wife came through healthy, he called in and said he'd be ready when they rolled out the blue-and-gold carpet Saturday to introduce the starters.
What did Heather say about his decision to play?
"She didn't say nothing," Pittsnogle said with a smile. "She's sleeping."
Pittsnogle said he left the hospital around midnight and went home to sleep for "five or six hours," while his mom, Tammy, stayed with his wife. He walked in for West Virginia's 8:30 walk-through with a picture of his newborn son and, as Beilein said, "a big smile on his face."
|“||The man just had a great game, and he just assisted in childbirth. ”|
|— WVU coach John Beilein|
Pittsnogle got a 15-minute crash course on Cincinnati's sets and plays, information he missed from practice Friday. Then, a few hours later, it was time to locate enough energy to play 37 minutes against Bearcats strongman Eric Hicks.
"My teammates kept me up," he said, "and the adrenaline from the crowd got me going."
Hicks certainly got his stats, racking up 16 points and seven rebounds in the first half and 22 and 10 for the game. But Pittsnogle's team won the war, with a big assist from its big man.
Down three coming out of halftime, Pittsnogle swished a pair of 3s in the first 100 seconds for a 36-33 lead and a huge momentum swing. Cincinnati immediately called timeout after the second 3-pointer, and West Virginia was largely in control from that point forward.
"We never recovered from that," Hicks said.
"He made a couple huge shots that changed the game," Cincy coach Andy Kennedy said.
It was not a virtuoso Pittsnogle performance. He shot 4 for 17 and finished with 12 points, more than seven below his season's average, and seven rebounds. But you try playing Big East basketball within hours of becoming a father.
In appreciation of that feat, Beilein hurriedly waved a sub to the scorer's table with 1.6 seconds left, to give the crowd a chance to salute Pittsnogle as he walked off the floor. The student section later sang "Happy Birthday" while he was doing a TV interview.
"The man just had a great game, and he just assisted in childbirth," Beilein said. "I wanted people to give him a big round of applause. It was complete theater, that's all it was. I know everyone was probably clapping for Heather at the same time."
Pittsnogle said his family has already decided Kwynsie looks like Kevin did at birth. There's no telling whether he'll grow to be 6 feet 11, but dad is optimistic about the little man's potential shooting range.
"Hopefully 30 feet," he said.
And Pittsnogle has promised this: He'll find some spare room on his heavily inked body for a new tattoo honoring the arrival of Kwynsie James.
"There'll be one soon," he said. "Everyone will see."
Pat Forde is a senior writer for ESPN.com. He can be reached at ESPN4D@aol.com.
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