MORGANTOWN-Pete White will tell you that he always got "fired up" against old rival Pitt as a West Virginia University basketball player.
Well, the 6-foot-4, 175-pound forward/center had the best game of his career as a senior on Jan. 29, 1955 at the old Field House (Stansbury Hall). White scored 29 points and pulled down 27 rebounds in an 88-74 victory over the Panthers.
Both figures were all-time highs for the Clendenin native. He also played very well in the rematch at Pittsburgh as WVU swept the season's series, 93-86.
The Mountaineers finished with a 19-11 record that year, the first of Fred Schaus' six seasons as head coach, and they won the Southern Conference tournament for the school's first-ever NCAA tourney appearance.
"I played my two earlier years of varsity competition for Coach Red Brown," White said recently. "I played a lot, but that was not as much as I did in 1954-55 as a senior. I was so frustrated.
"But I seemed to grasp Schaus' coaching better than I did Brown's."
While sophomore Hot Rod Hundley led the team in scoring with 23.7 points per game, White was next at 15.9 ppg and averaged a team-best 12.0 rebounds per game that year. White also shot 49.9 percent from the field and 77.5 percent from the foul line.
For his 70-game career, White tallied 741 points (10.7 average) and logged 561 rebounds (8.0 average).
Another game that White remembers is the decisive loss to LaSalle in the NCAA tournament.
He scored a respectable 19 points against towering Tom Gola, a three-year All-America center.
White, who's now 79, has been in the insurance business for 54 years and is still active with son Brad in Charleston.
Making his statistic even more impressive is the fact that he played against men much taller and stronger.
He recalled one game in which four players were defending in the backcourt and Hundley was kneeling on one knee at the other end of the floor near the WVU basket.
White stole the ball and passed it to Hot Rod, who off one knee shot the ball and it went into the basket.
`"We had to beat George Washington, then ranked in the Top 10, to win the NCAA berth in 1955," White remembers. "GW had the Holup bothers and guard Corky Devlin as leaders."
`White was tough to guard because of his great hook shot. He used his elbow as an aid.
`He noted that Coach Schaus saw what skills he had and made good use of those.
White served on the WVU Foundation Board for 42 years. That enabled him to remain very close to his alma mater in other areas.
He was president of the Kanawha Valley chapter of the WVU Alumni Association.
During a 6-year stay in Florida, White organized an alumni chapter in the St. Petersburg area and eventually served as its president.