The Times West Virginian

Bob Herzel

December 9, 2009

WVU hosts Everhart, Duquesne tonight

MORGANTOWN — There are two ways Bob Huggins looks at West Virginia’s men’s basketball team as it prepares itself for tonight’s annual battle against Fairmont’s Ron Everhart and his Duquesne Dukes at the Coliseum.

The first way is with a rare smile on his face, for his efforts are being recognized nationally with a No. 6 or 7 ranking, depending upon whether you want to believe AP’s sportswriters or USA Today’s coaches. Either way it’s up there in the rarified air that would lead you to believe they are on the road to the Elite Eight or better.

The second way is with the more common scowl that Huggins wears when his team is anything but perfect and when he looks at the defensive figures his team has recorded this year his mood turns downright angry.

Huggins has spent a lifetime priding himself on a belly button-to-belly button, in your face man-to-man defense that drives opponents into dismal shooting and a week of bad dreams.

All of a sudden, however, this year’s team, as talented as it obviously is as it has waltzed through five consecutive victories, is being scorched on defense.

The No. 6 ranked team in America ranks 260 places lower than that when it comes to defending opponents’ field goals. The Mountaineers have allowed teams to shoot 45.6 percent against them, settling them between those two defensive giants Alabama State and Stephen F. Austin in the national rankings.

That puts them 16th and last among teams in the defensive-conscious Big East, something he has mentioned to his team, as one might guess.

“Several times,” Huggins says in his dry, understated manner that does not give a hint as to just how often, loud and, perhaps, obscenely he has brought it up to his players.

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Bob Herzel
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