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Pocket book: AD Wren Baker provides his ideas on WVU’s baseball, soccer and basketball packages

MORGANTOWN — West Virginia athletic director Wren Baker spoke Thursday morning about a number of points of the WVU athletic division.

Baker’s first 12 months main the Mountaineers was stuffed with surprises and sudden obstacles however he feels good about the place a number of of WVU’s packages are at and the way they’re positioned for the long run.

Baseball

The 2024 season shall be Randy Mazey’s last as head coach of the Mountaineers’ baseball program. In July it was introduced that Mazey supposed to retire on the finish of the 12 months and assistant coach Steve Sabins was designated because the coach-in-waiting, who would take over in 2025 with a contract that runs by way of 2029.

Baker mentioned that call was reached by way of compromises made by all three males.

“Typically, I’m not an enormous fan of coach-in-waiting,” Baker mentioned. “In all probability in a 24-hour interval, that’s as a lot as I’ve ever given on a place that I felt strongly about in my total profession.

“Regardless that I’ve a really excessive opinion of Coach Sabins and he would have been a really sturdy candidate for our job, essentially I’ve simply seen too a lot of these go not so effectively so I’m simply not an enormous fan. However in that exact case, Coach Mazey and Coach Sabins have such an amazing relationship they usually each got here to the desk with the spirit to make it work.”

Baker mentioned he, Mazey and Sabins all made compromises to achieve their final choice. Baker gave up doing a full search, Sabins remained an assistant at WVU for 2024 regardless of having a head teaching supply elsewhere and Mazey agreed to step away sooner than he maybe would have in any other case.

“Everyone was giving a bit bit,’ Baker mentioned. “I used to be giving up on feeling each time we should always do a full search and the very best candidate ought to be employed then. Coach Sabins had a Energy 5 job supply on the desk, it was his. And Coach Mazey possibly would’ve gone a bit longer in a special time and place, however in his thoughts, Coach Sabins was at all times going to be the successor. Actually it was three guys sitting down and speaking about what’s greatest for this system.”

Soccer

Baker’s first order of enterprise when he was employed final 12 months was to make choices about the way forward for the soccer program. He determined to retain head coach Neal Brown in brief order and was rewarded with the staff’s greatest season below Brown up to now.

“I used to be coming in final 12 months getting lots of questions on soccer and I’m at all times going to be calm and exude confidence,” Baker mentioned. “However that’s onerous while you’re at all times getting questions on one thing and also you don’t know and also you weren’t right here for.”

The Mountaineers went 8-4 this season and can play within the Duke’s Mayo Bowl on Dec. 27 (5:30 p.m./ESPN).

“I’ve spent lots of time across the program with assembly individually with all of the coaches, I do know many of the student-athletes, I’ve been to a ton of practices, I’ve been within the locker room for pregame, halftime, postgame, so I’ve an amazing really feel for this system,” Baker mentioned. “There’s so many issues which can be accomplished proper inside this system. I’m very pleased with that.”

The success on the sector this season has allowed the general public to get a greater sense of how effectively this system was being run on the within, in keeping with Baker.

“Most people goes to evaluate you by the tip of that iceberg, which is that scoreboard on 12 Saturdays,” he mentioned. “I’m actually pleased with the staff and excited in regards to the future. I believed (signing day) was an amazing day with the additions they introduced in.”

Basketball

In his first 12 months, Baker needed to rent new head coaches for each of the Mountaineers’ basketball packages. Girls’s coach Mark Kellogg has WVU off to an 11-0 begin whereas interim males’s coach Josh Eilert has confronted one hardship after one other because the staff sits at 4-7. 

“I get the main target of the general public on wins and losses as a result of it’s the one metric they actually have a window into,’ Baker mentioned. “However I get a 360 view of every thing that goes on inside the program. 

“My aim is to do a radical evaluate of every of our packages on the finish of the 12 months. For males’s basketball, they’ve solely performed a 3rd of their video games. It has actually been a season that is stuffed with challenges. I’ve been clear that Coach Eilert has dealt with most, if not all, of these challenges effectively.”

Kellogg changed one-year head coach Daybreak Plitzuweit whereas Eliert was given the interim tag following Bob Huggins’ resignation over the summer season.

“I feel each have accomplished a very good job offered with two completely totally different conditions. Each difficult in their very own means,” Baker mentioned. “Coach Kellogg got here right into a program the place he was the third head coach in three years and his predecessor left after one 12 months. He actually needed to are available in and construct belief. He had to usher in lots of gamers and get them on teh identical web page and I feel he’s accomplished a very good job at that.

“Coach Eilert was totally different, however not completely totally different. I at all times knew that the problem was nice, and I advised Coach Eilert that. In considered one of our final conferences, I mentioned I nearly really feel unhealthy placing him on this place as a result of I understand how onerous it’s going to be.”

Baker mentioned simply taking a roster of largely switch gamers and getting them to play collectively would have been difficult sufficient for Eilert.

“Simply that may have been a monumental job,’ he mentioned. “Then you definitely take the teaching change, the switch portal opening, some extra roster fluctuations, not with the ability to get waivers for a few the children, accidents and it’s actually been difficult.”