The Times West Virginian

Bob Herzel

December 8, 2013

Huggins implores Mountaineers to play to their strengths

MORGANTOWN — Bob Huggins’ message to his West Virginia University team coming out of its disappointing 80-71 loss at Missouri that never really was as close as the final score indicates was a simple one – do what you do.

“We come out and we have too many guys playing out of character and doing things they can’t do instead of doing things they can do,” he said immediately after addressing his team on Thursday night in Columbia, Mo.

“I think, if you go back – and I’m doing this in a constructive way, I hope – to 2010, what did we say constantly? ‘Do … what … we … do!’ Before every game they would say, ‘Do … what … we … do!’” Huggins continued.

That, of course, became one of the great teams in WVU history.

“They understood it wasn’t the five most talented guys in the country,” Huggins explained. “It wasn’t five guys that had all the talent to go to the Final Four.

“What it was was a team that had five guys that were better than other people’s five guys because they played so well together.”

That is what he is emphasizing with this year’s team, a team that may not have Da’Sean Butler and Devin Ebanks, but that he believes can play as if it does.

“There was Devin Ebanks, a McDonald’s All-American. There’s a guy, you know, that could come in and score a lot of points, but I asked Devin to guard. I asked Devin to pass the ball. I asked Devin to be a facilitator so the team could have success,” Huggins said.

“He didn’t cry, complain. What did it get him? Three years in the NBA, that’s what it got him, because he could do things other guys couldn’t do.”

In the case of this year’s team, he is seeking the same attitude, the same product, and felt it slipped away at Missouri.

“We got out of character. We don’t have guys who are going to make step-back 3s. We don’t have guys who are going to dribble between their legs. Those same guys can’t go by anybody, but what they can do is make open shots,” Huggins said, referring mostly at moment to one his stars, Eron Harris, who threw up a step-back 3 that was blocked, upsetting Huggins so much that he put him on the bench for 12 minutes of the second half, meaning the team’s leading scorer played only 19 minutes of the game.

“I was in there with them after the game looking at who can make open shots,” Huggins continued. “Gary Browne can make open shots. Remi Dibo can make open shots. Nate Adrian can make open shots. Terry Henderson can make open shots. Eron Harris can make open shots. Really Devin Williams can make open shots, if he stays within his range. At times, Kevin Noreen can make open shots.

“Instead, we force things. We ran no offense. We forced everything. We tried to be somebody that we’re not. That, without a question, is a formula for failure.”

“A formula for failure.”

Strong words, but words Huggins is going to demand his team remember for he still has confidence in the team, believes if the Mountaineers follow his lead they will have a strong year.

“I mean I’m not the smartest guy in the world. I’ve done a lot of stupid things. I don’t make right decisions all the time. Maybe I don’t have the right game plan all the time, but whatever the game plan is, I have to have five guys doing it or it isn’t any good,” he said.

“I can’t have three. We’re playing 1-3-1 — and I know Gary Browne doesn’t mind me saying this. He’s supposed to be out in the middle of the floor and he’s chasing people around on the wing,” Huggins said, offering up an example of what he’s talking about.

“What do they do? They throw it to the middle of the floor and pitch it to their best shooter, who makes a 3 to end a little mini-run we had going. (Browne) didn’t do what the other four guys are trying to do. He knows … ‘Hey, Coach, I’m sorry. My bad, my bad, my bad.’ He didn’t do it anymore, but we can’t have those breakdowns. We’re not good enough to have those breakdowns.”

Not now, not with a top-20 Gonzaga team that beat WVU, 84-50, in last season’s opening game out West coming to the Coliseum for 9 p.m. – mark that time down – on Tuesday.

Huggins and his players are hoping to draw a big crowd after some of the smallest crowds ever in the Coliseum over Thanksgiving break.

Follow Bob Hertzel 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