Schifino reflects on sudden end to WVU career

A column by Bob Hertzel for The Times West Virginian

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Time and circumstances have a way of changing history.

Drew Schifino is proof of that.

Schifino was one of the most prolific scorers ever to play basketball at West Virginia University, but his memory has faded fast and the circumstances in which his career ended at WVU have kept the memory from returning.

The year was 2004 — a decade ago — and Schifino was the Mountaineers’ leading scorer, averaging 18 points a game. He was 10 games into his junior season, coming off a 20-point-a-game sophomore year as he helped John Beilein slide into the WVU coaching position he had taken over in 2003.

Schifino was in the midst of an amazing run, having scored in double figures in the first 10 games of his junior year, all 29 of his sophomore year and the final nine games of his freshman year. That’s 48 consecutive games in double figures.

WVU was playing Notre Dame, and something was wrong. They were being blown out. Schifino had nine points, and Beilein yanked him from the game and never returned him. It ended his streak.

It ended his stay at WVU … and that was the final memory, the lasting memory.

“People remember me being dismissed instead of remembering I averaged 20 points a game as a sophomore; I broke a Big East record with 11 steals in one game as freshman; I scored over 1,000 points in two and a half years … people forget the things I did. The last impression is always the one that lasts,” he said Thursday afternoon, his journey from then until now worth telling.

Indeed, when he left WVU, he finished his collegiate career at California (Pennsylvania) State, then became a basketball gypsy, playing out a six-year professional career overseas in six different countries — Poland, Portugal, Switzerland, Holland and Czech Republic.

It was, he said, “cool, but when you get older, in your 30s like me, you get worn out from it. It’s a lot of travel. You are gone eight or nine months a year, and you get homesick and miss your family.”

And so it was that a year ago he returned home, back to Pittsburgh where he was a basketball legend, older and wiser…

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