The Times West Virginian

Bob Herzel

May 8, 2014

HERTZEL COLUMN: Top 25 return for WVU men’s basketball team?

MORGANTOWN — Scoff at this, if you must (and chances are you must), but it is a nugget I came across on the Internet the other day.

There is a writer by the name of Jason McIntyre who writes for a website known The Big Lead, and he decided there was no time like the present than to publish what he called “The 2014-15 College Basketball Top 25 (Very Early Edition).”

He noted that perhaps it might be a bit premature, noting that “the UConn parties aren’t even finished.”

But then, there’s really nothing else to write about — if you happen to reside in a cave somewhere deep in the Himalayas. Like the NFL draft, the NBA playoffs, the NHL playoffs, baseball … why not pick next year’s Top 25 in college basketball?

And so he went at it and here is what he offered. No. 1 Duke, No. 2 Arizona, No. 3 Wisconsin, No. 4 Kentucky and No. 5 North Carolina.

Not exactly daring.

He listed three of the Big 12 teams in his Top 25. Kansas was at No 6, Texas at No. 7 and then this … please, be seated when you read this:

“21. West Virginia (17-16, NIT Tournament) – Bob Huggins will have a nice squad in Morgantown next year, and he’ll get them to the NCAA Tournament. The biggest impact player is probably Jonathan Holton, a JUCO star who was on the team last year but the NCAA wouldn’t let him play. Elijah Macon was also with the team, but got injured, and then the NCAA prevented him from playing, too. You factor in Holton, Macon, returning players Juwan Staten (18.1 ppg) and you’ve got something to build on.The Mountaineers would have been even stronger if Eron Harris (17.2 ppg) hadn’t decided to transfer.”

A return to the Top 25 for West Virginia?

After what we’ve watched over the past two years, that seems to be like predicting that Joan Rivers will start dating Leonardo DiCaprio this year.

But, know what, it could happen because Huggins is going back to what he knows best – defense.

Know how I know that.

I had a spy at speech he gave last week in Canton, Ohio, at the Pro Football Hall of Fame Club.

Huggins was at his sarcastic best as he addressed the group.

“We weren’t very good last year, but we’re going to try something different,” Huggins said. “We’re going to guard people this year.”

He was being funny, yes … and serious.

If anything got to Huggins last year it was his team’s inability to guard people, especially the late departed Eron Harris, who finally has been released from his WVU scholarship and has already been contacted by John Beilein in Michigan and Matt Painter in Purdue, but there were others in that mix of not playing defense.

That included his freshman center, Devon Williams, whom he is counting on for big things in the coming year.

“He has a 7-foot-2 wingspan and he can rebound, but he didn’t guard anyone,” Huggins said, before drawing a laugh by adding, “He promised he would try to guard somebody this year.”

Again, that wasn’t a joke.

Huggins believes that the additions of Jonathan Holton, who may wind up being his best player, even with Juwan Staten still on the team, and Elijah Macon as inside forces playing defense and rebounding will give his team a dimension it lacked last year.

And his latest recruit, Tarik Phillip, recently talked with the Charleston Daily Mail about his defensive mentality.

  “I’m not going to lie to you,” Phillip said. “I’ve always been a good defender. When I was young, there were times my offensive game would struggle. I worked at that, but my defense always stayed the same. As I got better on offense, my defense was still there. I know I can lack on offense, or at least I used to, but I’m not going to let you score on me.

“If I’m struggling on offense and I have zero points, I’m going to make sure you have zero points, too.”

Hearing that was to Huggins like hearing you’ve scored four tickets to Jimmy Buffet as a college kid.

Defense is where his team can improve the most and will, if it knows what’s good for it.

But No. 21?

Follow Bob Hertzel 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