The Times West Virginian

Bob Herzel

January 20, 2013

HERTZEL COLUMN: Huggins obligated to apologize

MORGANTOWN — This West Virginia University basketball team has sunk to such depths that Bob Huggins felt obligated to apologize to the people of the state following a devastating 79-52 loss on Saturday at Purdue.

“I apologize to our fans, to the people of the state of West Virginia,” said Huggins, who has spent a whole lot more time during his career celebrating 718 victories than he has spent trying to absorb defeats as ugly and embarrassing as this.

“This is totally unacceptable,” he continued. “This is not what we’re supposed to represent.”

Indeed.

Bob Huggins’ basketball teams are supposed be dominators, not dominated. They are supposed to play in-your-face defense, not simply ole a driving opponent much as a matador will ole a charging bull.

They are supposed to be precise in the offense, hard-nosed in their approach.

This team, which now stands at 8-9, is none of the above, and he knows it and is embarrassed by it.

“Hopefully the fans and people of this state have enough faith in me that I will fix it. I don’t know that I will fix it totally this year, but this is not going to be the norm,” he said.

That is a move away from a promise he made earlier this year, for then he vowed he would fix the problems this team was suffering, but he did not put a qualifier on it, did not offer doubt that it could be done this season.

But then he had no idea of how bad things would be when Gonzaga, a legitimate contender for the national championship, annihilated the Mountaineers in their opener.

Now he knows, and he feels like he’s been blindsided from within.

“I never saw it coming. I thought we would be OK in the Big 12. I didn’t see this coming,” he said.

And then he talked about.

“I’ve never had two seniors that their senior year didn’t really respond,” he said.

He didn’t mention names, but Deniz Kilicli is certainly one of them of whom he refers, Kilicli averaged 7.3 points and 4.3 rebounds a game, down badly from a year ago, and scored two points with two rebounds in six minutes on Saturday.

The other two seniors are Dominique Rutledge, who played only three minutes against Purdue, and Matt Humphrey, a transfer, who hit a quick 3 then completely came apart.

“Humphrey makes a 3 and then makes two of the dumbest fouls, just stupid fouls. Now he’s got two fouls and I have to take him out,” Huggins said.

But it has been more. Nothing – absolutely nothing – has gone the way it was anticipated.

“I didn’t think we’d turn it over with Jabarie Hinds and Gary Browne back with a year’s experience at point guard and we had Juwan Staten,” Huggins said.

So against Purdue there were six assists and 17 turnovers.

Nothing is working.

“We can’t run motion because no one will pass the freakin’ ball,” Huggins continued.

He noted one play that he laid out, a play were the officials were covered better than the passing options and the guard with the ball drove rather than pass.

Huggins is baffled, perplexed, mystified.

“I thought we’d be better. Guys like Keaton Miles seemed to be so much better than the year before. Aaron Brown, you expect guys like that to take a pretty good jump between their freshman and sophomore year,” Huggins said.

But about the only player on the team that has stepped forward is the freshman Eron Harris, who was back home in Indiana playing and who led WVU with 10 points and five rebounds and was charged with none of those 17 turnovers.

Huggins has called upon all his coaching experience to find a fix. He felt early on that his strength might be in his big players, but opted to go small as it would fit better with the Big 12 competition.

That was what he tried against a Purdue team that is unranked and not exactly the kind of team you expect to beat you by 30 points.

Yet, there it was.

“That was as listless an effort as anyone could possibly give,” Huggins said.

And still the heart of the Big 12 season remains.

As for Huggins?

“I’m going to go recruit, which obviously I need to do,” he said.

Email Bob Hertzel at bhertzel@hotmail.com or follow him on Twitter @bhertzel.

1
Text Only
Bob Herzel
  • HERTZEL COLUMN: O’Toole joins long list of eccentric WVU kickers, punters

    The star of the Big 12’s annual football media day wasn’t a star at all.
    He intrigued the media far more than Bob Stoops, the coach of preseason favorite Oklahoma, and more than Baylor quarterback Bryce Petty, the preseason player of the year.

    July 25, 2014

  • WVU, N.C. State to meet in football

    Following a trend of creating non-conference games against regional opponents, West Virginia University has reached agreement with North Carolina State to play a home-and-home football series in 2018 and 2019.
    The Mountaineers are scheduled to play N.C. State in Raleigh on Sept. 15, 2018, and then play host to the Wolfpack on Sept. 14, 2019.

    July 24, 2014

  • HERTZEL COLUMN: ‘Cheating pays’ remark should draw attention

    When Bob Bowlsby, the outspoken commissioner of the Big 12, presented his opening-day picture of the future of college sports in Dallas for the annual media day gathering, his bleak comments were not unexpected.

    July 24, 2014

  • Holgorsen’s program hits turning point

    You can almost sense, as you watch West Virginia University football coach Dana Holgorsen sit before the gathered Big 12 media contingent answering questions in the Omni Hotel in Arlington, Texas, that he senses his program has reached a turning point.

    July 23, 2014

  • Big 12 Media Days Foo_time(1).jpg Trickett’s play key factor for Mountaineers’ success

     In the end, it comes down to the quarterback.
    Always has with Dana Holgorsen, always will.
    Quarterback is the offense with the West Virginia University coach. When he does well, the team wins – almost always.
    When he does poorly, the team doesn’t stand much of a chance.

    July 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • Saban, family happy at Alabama

    Alabama football coach Nick Saban, whose team opens the season against West Virginia in Atlanta on Aug. 30, denied receiving or turning down this offseason an offer of $100 million to coach Texas, indicating he planned to finish his career as coach of the Crimson Tide.

    July 18, 2014

  • HERTZEL COLUMN: ‘Quarterback child prodigy’ comes to WVU amidst very high expectations

    Has West Virginia football coach Dana Holgorsen finally put the arrow he needs in his quiver with the commitment received Wednesday from high school quarterback David Sills, who is a rather extraordinary story and may also just be a rather extraordinary quarterback?

    July 18, 2014

  • WVU kicker Molinari ‘All-American boy’

    West Virginia kicker Mike Molinari may not be an All-American but he is an All-American boy.
    He was honored for that on Wednesday when the Allstate Insurance Company and the American Football Coaches Association announced the West Virginia redshirt senior kicker/punter Michael Molinari is a nominee for the Allstate AFCA Good Works Team.

    July 16, 2014

  • HERTZEL COLUMN: Smallwood puts future in jeopardy

    The last thing West Virginia’s struggling football program needed as twilight was setting on Bastille Day in Morgantown was to have one of its own whisked off to the North Central Regional Jail on a fugitive warrant from another state, especially a player who had figured to play a key role in the resurrection of a program gone bad.

    July 16, 2014

  • WVU player arrested in Delaware case

    West Virginia University running back Wendell Smallwood has been arrested by university police and is being held at North Central Regional Jail awaiting extradition on a felony warrant out of Delaware.

    July 15, 2014

House Ads
Featured Ads