2005 West Virginia Team: Where Are They Now?
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With West Virginia facing old coach John Beilein and No. 3 Michigan in Brooklyn on Saturday, many Mountaineers fans will think back to the Cinderella 2005 team that Beilein led to a surprise Elite Eight berth after knocking off No. 2 seed Wake Forest in double OT and No. 6 seed Texas Tech. Where have the key contributors from that team gone? We take a closer look.
West Virginia’s leading scorer in the 2004–2005 regular season (12.2 ppg), Sally took a backseat to some of his teammates during the Elite Eight run. But his hustle plays and game-winning dunk in the Mountaineers’ 63–61 defeat of a pesky Creighton team in the first round cannot be overlooked. Now 30, Sally has spent most of his professional career in Europe and currently plays for Furstenfeld in Austria, where he is averaging 10.3 PPG.
A transfer from St. Bonaventure following the 2002–2003 season, Gansey exploded for 19 of his 29 points in the two OT periods of WVU’s second round upset of Wake Forest and star PG Chris Paul.
Gansey was no one-game wonder, either. He earned First Team All-Big East honors the next season and was a big part of the Mountaineers’ 2006 Sweet Sixteen run. After a five-year pro career (2006–2011), Gansey is now back in his hometown in his second year working in the Cleveland Cavaliers’ front office as director of development league operations and a basketball operations assistant.
Just over one month before the Big Dance, Pittsnogle wasn’t even a starter. But come tournament time, the 6-foot-11, heavily tattooed big man with the feathery touch from beyond the arc became a national sensation, with cries of “You’ve been Pittsnogled!” accompanying his clutch performances against Creighton, Texas Tech and Louisville.
A surprising non-selection in the 2006 NBA Draft, Pittsnogle bounced around the CBA and NBDL and spent parts of last season in the little-known Eastern Basketball Alliance. He is currently in his hometown of Martinsburg, WV, as a sales consultant for Miller's Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram.
Herber delivered the type of heady play during the 2005 tournament that you would expect from a player carrying a 4.0 GPA, with timely shooting and solid defense on opposing players.
West Virginia’s all-time leader in games started (128), the 6-foot-6 Herber returned to his native Germany at the conclusion of his collegiate career. Since then he has played for four teams in the Basketball Bundesliga and is currently with Fraport SKY.
The coach’s son was hardly a case of nepotism. A deadly shooter from outside, the younger Beilein averaged 8.3 PPG during his four years in Morgantown and went for 13 in the ’05 Regional Final.
As proof that the apple doesn’t far from the tree, the 29-year-old Beilein went into coaching and became a graduate assistant for his dad at Michigan before heading to Dartmouth for an assistant position. The younger Beilein is now in his first season as the head coach at Division II West Virginia Wesleyan, where the Bobcats are 4–2 thus far in 2012-2013.
As a senior, Fischer graciously allowed Pittsnogle to take his spot in the starting lineup, after which the Mountaineers took off. The Philly native’s shot-blocking prowess made the Mountaineers’ 1–3–1 zone defense highly effective, and he remains the program’s all-time leader in rejections (190).
A former transfer from Northwestern (LA) State, Fischer currently plays for Ukraine’s BC Donetsk. Despite being on the wrong side of 30, Fischer is a force for the squad, averaging 10.5 PPG, 5.6 RPG and 1.7 BPG.
A four-year starter from 2002–2006 along with Herber, Collins was the Mountaineers’ floor leader and gave the team grit to complement its shooting prowess. The Houston native finished his NCAA career in WVU’s top 10 in career assists (8th with 402) and steals (10th at 156).
After playing professionally in New Zealand in 2007, Collins returned to his hometown of Houston, TX, where he conducts basketball workouts. J.D.'s younger brother, Anthony Collins, is currently a star sophomore point guard for the USF Bulls, which he led to the round of 32 as a freshman last season.
In 2005, “Frank the Tank” was still one season away from being a major contributor. But he saved the best performances of his sophomore season for March, scoring a then career-high 14 against Boston College in the Big East Conference Tournament and eight in WVU’s first round NCAA game against Creighton.
Young was a First Team All-Big East performer as a senior in 2006-2007, during which he set the school single-season record for three-pointers made (117). The Tallahassee native has spent the duration of his pro career in Holland and Germany but is not currently on a roster.
On a 2004–2005 team dominated by upperclassmen, Nichols — then a freshman — was the baby. But when called upon to relieve Gansey, Herber, Beilein or Collins during West Virginia’s run, Nichols didn’t shy away from the spotlight, scoring in the Mountaineers’ second round, Sweet Sixteen and Elite Eight games.
Nichols would mature into an unflappable floor general who, as a senior (2007–2008), would lead WVU to the Sweet Sixteen. Like his former teammate Beilein, Nichols is a coach in the Division II ranks. He is in his second season as an assistant at Northern Kentucky University.
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