The Times West Virginian

Bob Herzel

February 2, 2013

Set for Tech

WVU hopes to string games together

MORGANTOWN — Bob Huggins and his West Virginia University basketball team have not given up on this season yet.

“We can still make a run. We can conceivably get ourselves on the bubble or better,” the coach said before his team held its Friday practice and left for today’s 1:30 p.m. game at Texas Tech.

Asked if his team, which stands at 9-11 and 2-5 in Big 12 play, actually buys into that, Huggins offered the following, somewhat sarcastically.

“They follow me blindly. Haven’t you noticed that yet?”

He was, however, not far off from the truth.

“Everyone wants to believe they have some hope,” he said. “I don’t think that’s a hard sell.”

Indeed, he is facing a team in Texas Tech that has had its share of problems. The Red Raiders stand at 9-9 and like the Mountaineers are 2-5 in conference play. What’s more, they are a team that has suffered through deep internal problems, with interim head coach Chris Walker having replaced Bill Gillespie when players went to the athletic director to complain about abusive treatment from the coach.

“I’ll just say this: It’s not a tough situation anymore,” Walker said recently to the Charleston Daily Mail. “I think some of the things that happened on the outside are colored a different way on the inside.”

Perhaps, but Tech is one of the bottom-rung teams in the Big 12, as are four of the next five opponents the Mountaineers face, giving hope that a run can be made.

Coming off a strong showing, but a loss, against Kansas, there is reason to believe.

But any push would have to come right now.

“We’re in a position where we have to win more than those (upcoming four games against weaker teams),” Huggins said. “That would be a great start; we’re in a position where we have to win a lot more than that.”

With Texas Tech followed by another Monday night ESPN spectacular, this against a Texas team that also is dragging along at the bottom, WVU could certainly find a way to string a couple of wins together.

“Win the next two and we’re 11-11 and 4-5. It makes it respectable, and then we have to go on a big-time run and beat some people at their place,” Huggins said. “We have a long way to go. It’s not like a sport where you don’t have anything left. We still have 10 games left, plus the conference tournament.”

It isn’t like the Mountaineers go into Texas Tech at full strength, however.

Terry Henderson, who injured his back in the Kansas game, was not 100 percent at practice on Thursday, and shooter Matt Humphrey, who missed the Kansas game with a shoulder problem, did not practice on Thursday.

“He has swelling in his shoulder and unfortunately, it’s in his left shoulder. I would doubt he’ll be able to go,” Huggins said. “The good news is that structurally it’s not different than it was. The bad news is he’s got swelling and inflammation in it.”

Certainly West Virginia finds itself as a longshot to make the NCAA Tournament and must actually play really well down the stretch to qualify for the NIT.

Huggins was asked if the program could benefit by playing in the NIT.

“To be honest, I don’t think anyone wants to talk about that yet,” he said. “They set out the season saying they wanted to play in the NCAA Tournament, and that’s not out of the realm of possibility.”

The challenge that Texas Tech offers is one of being a team of many defenses and with some versatile big players who can put the ball in the basket.

“The biggest thing that stands out on offense is all three of their bigs are shooting over 50 percent from the field,” he continued. “They’re efficient around the basket. They take good shots and make a lot of them they shoot.”

The key player is Jaye Crockett, a 6-7, 200-pound redshirt junior forward who comes off the bench to lead them in scoring.

“He will probably be the league’s sixth man of the year again,” Huggins said.

But from here on out it isn’t about how the teams facing West Virginia play, but about how the Mountaineers go about their business, trying to find ways to win the games they’ve been losing through the season’s first half.

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

1
Text Only
Bob Herzel
  • 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

  • WVU hoping to add two non-conference contests

    West Virginia is nearing the completion of deals to play football games against long-time rival Virginia Tech, now in the Atlantic Coast Conference, and Tennessee of the Southeastern Conference, according to a source close to the negotiations.
    An announcement is expected shortly.

    July 15, 2014

  • HERTZEL COLUMN: MLB All-Star game biggest celebration of top athletes

    You will pardon me if I find something else to do when the Pro Bowl rolls around, or if I try to find a “Three Stooges” marathon when it’s time for the NHL All-Star game. As for the NBA All-Star game, I’d rather watch a replay of a four-year-old Uruguay-Ethiopia World Cup soccer match in which I knew the outcome.
     

    July 14, 2014

  • Howes learns to ‘never settle’ as WVU administrator

    You probably don’t know much about Terri Howes, even though she is a rather high-ranking executive in the West Virginia University athletic department.
    “I like it that way,” she said, sitting in a large office at the Coliseum, decorated with pictures and memorabilia, a jar of candy sitting by the door for visitors to dip into.

    July 13, 2014

  • HERTZEL COLUMN: Rich Rod’s return not impossible

    As you may guess, in the wake of LeBron James’ decision to let bygones be millions and return to his rooters in Cleveland, more than once was I approached with someone wanting to know if this opened the door for a return to West Virginia University of their once-reviled coach Rich Rodriguez.

    July 13, 2014

  • HERTZEL COLUMN: Trickett best option as a leader

    In the end, West Virginia University’s decision to place the mantle of starting quarterback upon veteran Clint Trickett was less about quarterback than it was about leadership.
    This is not to say that Trickett lacks the talent to succeed as quarterback in coach Dana Holgorsen’s system.

    July 6, 2014

House Ads
Featured Ads