The Times West Virginian

Bob Herzel

March 2, 2013

WVU gets second crack at Kansas

MORGANTOWN — Three consecutive losses isn’t exactly the kind of baggage Bob Huggins wants to carry into Kansas to face the best team in the Big 12 on its home court, but even under the circumstances he is heading there for a 2 p.m. game today in something of a positive mood.

That is not to be taken that he thinks his West Virginia University Mountaineers ought to be favored over the Jayhawks, but he did take some positive things out of Wednesday night’s three-point loss to Baylor in the Coliseum.

“We had an opportunity to win,” Huggins pointed out.

That may be grasping for straws, considering that Baylor had come into Morgantown with a three-game losing streak of its own, but taking this one down to the final seconds and getting hard play out of his team was what Huggins considers a major step forward.

“We miss a 3- or 4-footer, miss a tip,” Huggins said of the sequence in the final minute. We rebound that, then miss a wide-open 3 from one of our better 3-point shooters.”

That showed effort, effort which led to opportunity.

Shots will go in or not, but that they were able to get the shots was important.

And then, at the end, while they botched up the final play, they had a chance to tie the game.

 All of that offered Huggins something to grasp at with just three regular-season games — at Kansas and Oklahoma and at home against Iowa State — and the Big 12 Tournament left ahead of him and the team.

Then there is the play of Eron Harris, a freshman guard who seems to be heading for stardom once he finds some consistency. Harris scored a career-high 25 points against Baylor after combining for just six points in the previous two games.

He is the Mountaineers’ top scorer in Big 12 games at 12 points a contest.

“I do feel better about the team,” Huggins said. “Obviously, we’re going to a very difficult place to play. The reason (it’s a hard place to play) is because they have been pretty good. In fact, real good.”

In truth, Kansas is one of the storied programs in college basketball history. Its program was founded by the man who invented the sport. It has been home to Wilt Chamberlain and many other legendary players. It has won the national championship and dominated its conference.

It is such a storied program that it warranted Huggins getting included in his contract a $25,000 bonus should he find a way to beat the Jayhawks, a win being worth at least that much in prestige and help in recruiting.

And, while Huggins isn’t about to say his team’s talent is deep enough or good enough to win this game, he notes that it hasn’t been quite as bad as this year’s 13-15 record would indicate.

“Our problem has been shooting ourselves in the foot, not other people shooting us in the foot,” he said.

Inexperience and mistakes have beaten the Mountaineers on most nights, not necessarily being overmatched.

Oh, there have been games like Gonzaga where they just didn’t match up, but there were also games where they could have and should have won.

Part of it was Huggins having the wrong people on the court, something he admits to and says he has corrected beginning with the Baylor game when he changed his starting lineup and altered his rotation.

“If we don’t play as hard as we possibly can there’s no reason to have those guys on the floor,” he said. “That’s been my fault. I tried to coax some people along. I made an error in the way I handled those guys.”

He named no names but Aaric Murray and Jabarie Hinds saw limited playing time in the Baylor game.

“I’ve always been ‘we’ll make mistakes but do it with great enthusiasm and do it as hard as we can do it,’” Huggins said, indicating he had been letting some players slide this year and keep playing when they failed to do that.

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

1
Text Only
Bob Herzel
  • HERTZEL COLUMN: Big 12 provides plenty of optimism

    This past week the Big 12 held its annual media gathering in Dallas and served up a heaping portion of optimism for the 2014 season that is now upon us, West Virginia University opening its preseason practices on Thursday.
    This is a time of year when no one has lost a game, not even Charlie Weis at Kansas, and it’s a time of year when opinions are more plentiful than tattoos in an NFL locker room.

    July 27, 2014

  • HERTZEL COLUMN: WVU needs White to follow in former receivers’ footsteps

    A year ago Clint Trickett took a lot of grief as the once potent West Virginia offense came unraveled, but there is more that than meets the eye.
    The criticism was not unfounded, of course, although behind each incomplete pass there was the pain Trickett was suffering through to throw it, his rotator cuff in need of surgery.

    July 26, 2014

  • 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

House Ads
Featured Ads