The Times West Virginian

Bob Herzel

December 24, 2009

HERTZEL COLUMN: Bench a great motivator

MORGANTOWN — Once upon a time when Bob Huggins was the Bearcat stage of his life, he had a player whom he called “Turnover and Re-Turnover.”

“It was,” he said, “50-50 if he was going to turn the ball over. But if he did, he’d go down and steal it right back.”

It wasn’t necessarily out of any great defensive ability that he was able to do that.

It was out of fear.

“He knew if he didn’t get the ball back he was coming out,” Huggins said.

See Bob Huggins learned the greatest lesson that any coach can learn and he did so long, long ago.

“The bench,” he said, “is the greatest motivator you have as a coach.”

You can put players on the treadmill, which he does, and you can get in their face and shout until their face turns blue, but in the end the only thing they really hear is that they aren’t playing.

Don’t believe it.

Ask Cam Thoroughman, the man who puts the blue collar in West Virginia’s gold and blue, what he was thinking midway through the second half when the Mountaineers were protecting a 12-point lead in a game they would win, 76-66, over Ole Miss as the ball slipped out of his hands and was stolen away.

The moment the ball got loose and began moving in the other direction, Thoroughman admits he thought about Huggins telling him about the player he nicknamed “Turnover and Re-Turnover”.

“I knew if he made that basket I was coming out,” Thoroughman said.

Now the thing is, the Mississippi player had a jump out of the gate on Thoroughman and clear sailing to the hoop. Huggins already was wheeling around on his heels to get someone to get into the game and replace Thoroughman.

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Bob Herzel
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