The Times West Virginian

WVU Sports

December 7, 2010

Polar opposites

WVU hosts young Robert Morris squad tonight

MORGANTOWN — When Robert Morris comes into the Coliseum tonight it brings with it not only a team this young and inexperienced but it brings with it the youngest coach in Division I basketball.

Andrew Toole took over the program on May 11, 2010. He was 29, which makes for an interesting coaching matchup for he faces in Bob Huggins a man who also is 29 … 29 years as a head coach.

Toole has three victories as a head coach, Huggins 675.

Toole became head coach after being Mike Rice’s top assistant for the last two years, serving the last two years as Rice’s top assistant before he left for the head coaching job at Rutgers.

With this as the backdrop, it was time to check with Huggins what he was like as a young head coach, turning 29 in his second season as head coach at Walsh College.

“I had a great situation [as an assistant coach] at Ohio State with a great team coming back,” Huggins said.

But anyone who knows Huggins knows that isn’t what it ever was all about with him.

“I didn’t feel I had much impact sitting four chairs down on the bench,” he said. “I think of something and tell the guy next to me who tell the guy next to him who would tell [head coach] Eldon Miller. By the time it got there it would lose something in interpretation.

“Plus I was on the road four days a week. It served me well. I met a lot of people, but I wanted to coach.”

And so it was Huggins left Ohio State for Walsh. Was he ready? Maybe. But he had something important going for him.

“I was fortunate. I had a great resource in my father. I could call my father,” he said. “That helped me considerably.”

Huggins father, Charlie, was a lifer in the coaching business, as successful a high school coach as you will find anywhere and the man from whom Huggins took most of his basketball principles and theories.

Now, of course, telling him the problem you are facing isn’t like being there.

“It’s hard. You can call whoever you want, but if they’re not there every day they don’t know what the problems are. That’s why you don’t call a doctor when you’re sick and have him diagnosis you over the phone,” Huggins said. “But, guys like Dad who had coached all those games, it’s a little easier to spot problems.”

It didn’t take long for Toole, a former Penn point guard, to be faced with one of those problems when he decided to suspend his top scorer, guard Karon Abraham, for four games just before playing Pitt.

A decision like that is a difficult one for a veteran coach, let alone one who has coached three games.

That decision cost him a lot number of victories, as Huggins would note.

“They used to tell me, cut the head off and the monster dies,” Huggins said. “You cut his toe off and he’s still going to eat you. That’s what happened to them.”

But that was what Toole felt he had to do, even if he had to eat some losses. Huggins says it was the right thing, if it was him and not him trying to be like his predecessor, Rice.

“What I really think is you have to be yourself,” Huggins said. “A lot of young coaches make the mistake of trying to be something you’re not.”

He gave an example.

“You saw that with Coach [Bobby] Knight who had all those academies and everyone would leave and say ‘By God, I’m going to be like Coach Knight. But they’re not Coach Knight. There’s only one guy who can handle things the way he handled things.

“It’s your own personality. Jim Boeheim is a great, great coach. He has a different personality than other guys. What happens is you go out and decide to be someone you’re not and you emulate him for two or three days but you start to getting back to being yourself.

“What happens? Your players say, ‘Who is this guy?’ I think you have to be consistent with what you do. It’s hard to make them consistent when you’re not consistent.”

Huggins players always know who he is and that is why this was not exactly a pleasant time for them, coming home from a loss in Miami where they blew a 13-point lead. He is upset with his play at center, where he is getting no offensive production, and with his offensive rebounding, down about 20 from this time last year and he had gone without Devin Ebanks for a number of games.

He spent his time trying to correct that because Big East Conference play is closing in fast.

E-mail Bob Hertzel at

Text Only
WVU Sports
  • WVU’s Harlee named Big 12 Scholar-Athlete

    The Big 12 Conference announced its Scholar-Athlete of the Year recipients for the 2014 winter sport season, and West Virginia University senior Jess Harlee earns the honor for women’s basketball.
    Harlee was selected as the award winner based on a vote of each respective sport’s head coaching group, with coaches not permitted to vote for their own student-athletes.

    April 16, 2014

  • Gyorko, Padres agree to extension

    Jedd Gyorko, who hasn’t hit much of anything with a .178 start on this season, hit the jackpot on Monday, signing a six-year contract extension with the San Diego Padres for $35 million with a one-year club option at $13 million.

    April 15, 2014

  • HERTZEL COLUMN- Spring game showed defense has improved

    From Dana Holgorsen’s viewpoint, which was standing right behind the offense, West Virginia’s Gold-Blue Spring Game on Saturday was a rousing success for it showed very little of what the Mountaineers will be in this coming season, probably not even showcasing the man who will direct the offense in the quarterback position.

    April 15, 2014

  • WVU signs guard; Adrian arrested for DUI

    There was something good and something bad for West Virginia men’s basketball coach Bob Huggins this past weekend as Kansas junior college player Tarik Phillip committed to play for the Mountaineers but rising sophomore Nathan Adrian was charged with Under 21 DUI after he was stopped at 1:20 a.m. Sunday for an expired registration sticker.

    April 15, 2014

  • FURFARI COLUMN- Most plays good, some not so good in Gold-Blue scrimmage

    There appeared to be a fine mixture of plays, most good with some not so good, in last Saturday’s West Virginia University’s Gold-Blue football scrimmage.

    April 15, 2014

  • HERTZEL COLUMN- Garrison still proving he can carry the ball

    The running back raves from the West Virginia coaching this spring have been directly mostly toward Wendell Smallwood, and rest assured he earned every one of them with his versatility, but it was a reborn running back who well may have taken the biggest jump up the depth chart.

    April 14, 2014

  • WVU baseball drops seventh straight game

    One’s athletic skills are tested on a daily basis but every so often other aspects of an athlete’s makeup are tested, often far more important aspects in the game of life.

    April 14, 2014

  • Gold-Blue Game answers few questions at quarterback

    Dana Holgorsen finds himself in a quarterback quandary.
    He’s looking to have one quarterback and has five of them as spring practice ends, and nothing about the spring session has done anything to straighten out the situation.

    April 13, 2014

  • Moore ‘back at home’ under center

    There are a couple of ways to look at what Logan Moore did this spring after being moved back to quarterback and given a chance to compete for what is a wide open job, as wide open at the end of the spring as it was coming in.
    The first is to say that he didn’t wow Dana Holgorsen to the point that he’s willing to say he’s the leader going into summer drills, but that would be shortsighted considering from where Moore came.

    April 13, 2014

  • HERTZEL COLUMN: WVU punter turns heads at linebacker

    They call him “Huey the Punter.”
    His real name is Houstin Syvertson. His real position is not punter. Not anymore, anyway.
    To be honest, until Saturday’s spring game, not many people following West Virginia football knew the name or the nickname. They know it now.

    April 13, 2014

Featured Ads
WVU Sports Highlights
NDN Sports
House Ads
NCAA Breaking News
NCAA Photos