CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Some - most, actually - say West Liberty University men's basketball coach Jim Crutchfield bucks the trend by winning on a regular basis with high school players.
It's not shocking if everybody does it.
That's just it, few others do.
Crutchfield has relied almost solely on high school players to develop one of the nation's top small-college programs.
He understands the concept that it's hard to win with just high school kids, but also acknowledges what West Liberty has achieved doing just that.
The WVC had been a basketball conference until its demise last spring, and the MEC is a basketball conference until further notice.
The parity in the league has helped that cause.
In fact, only 18 times in 66 basketball seasons (since 1947 when regular season and tournament results became available) had a team won the WVC regular season and conference titles in the same season.
Coach Jayson Gee guided the University of Charleston to the 2000-01 regular season and tournament titles, marking the last time anybody other than West Liberty achieved what, historically, has been a rarity. West Liberty won both the last three years of the WVC's existence.
It's impossible to compare generations with the advent of the 3-point shot and the evolution of the game, but West Liberty's run is surpassed only by that of Fairmont State's almost 40 years ago. Under Coach Joe Retton, the Falcons are the only team in league history to win four consecutive regular season and tournament titles (1973-76). West Liberty is looking to match that feat this season.
Although Retton and the 57-year-old Crutchfield don't know one another, it just so happens that Crutchfield is a native of Clarksburg, a stone's throw from Fairmont.
Crutchfield isn't exactly a history buff, but he knows how to count to 1,000 (he taught math during his time at Cameron High School from 1980-1989). At the end of last season he had three players wrap up their eligibility as 1,000-point scorers - Chris Morrow, Tim Hausfeld and Division II Player of the Year Alex Falk - and the Hilltoppers were 138-9 in their four seasons at West Liberty.
"I'd like to think we're in the middle of (the history), as opposed to the end of it," Crutchfield said. "But, no, we don't think about it."
Here are some stats to chew on: