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
  • Arrest warrant out for WVU recruit

    West Virginia University’s newest men’s basketball recruit, Tarik Phillip, has an order out for his arrest in North Carolina, according to a story in The Dominion-Post, which said three Gaston County Magistrate office spokespersons confirmed.

    April 20, 2014

  • WVU baseball powers past Oklahoma, 9-5

    The WVU baseball team tied a season high with 18 hits to defeat Oklahoma, 9-5, on Saturday afternoon at L. Dale Mitchell Park.
    The win gives the Mountaineers their second Big 12 series win of the season and improves the overall record to 19-16 and 4-7 in conference play. Oklahoma drops to 25-16 overall and 5-7 in Big 12 play.

    April 20, 2014

  • HERTZEL COLUMN: Under pressure, NCAA decides to change rules

    At first glance, it appears that they do not go hand-in-hand, a pair of rules changes the NCAA’s Legislative Council approved this week, sending them off for what seems to be smooth sailing toward becoming rules.

    April 18, 2014

  • Means, WVU baseball shut out Oklahoma

    Junior left-hander John Means of the WVU baseball team threw eight shutout innings and the Mountaineers had a five-run first inning en route to a 7-0 victory over Oklahoma on Thursday evening at L. Dale Mitchell Park.
    The Mountaineers (18-15, 3-6 Big 12) broke a six-game Big 12 losing streak after being swept by TCU and Oklahoma State in back-to-back weekends. WVU had 16 hits and did not make an error for the second-straight game.

    April 18, 2014

  • FURFARI COLUMN: Dr. Graber disagrees with Gee’s stance on Turnbull firing

    Dr. Stephen Graber, an associate professor at the West Virginia University School of Medicine, is among the latest WVU teachers to deplore Oliver Luck’s firing of veteran wrestling coach Craig Turnbull.
    He raised some significant questions about that issue last Monday in a meeting of the WVU Faculty Senate.

    April 18, 2014

  • Huggins signs junior college guard

    Coach Bob Huggins completed his 2014-15 West Virginia University recruiting class on Wednesday and deemed it a success after receiving a signed letter of intent from junior college guard Tarik Phillip.
    Phillip joins Jevon Carter of Maywood, Ill., and Daxter Miles of Baltimore’s Dunbar High and out of Notre Dame Prep in Massachusetts in the 2014-15 recruiting class.

    April 17, 2014

  • HERTZEL COLUMN: WVU gymnast hopes to stick her final landing

    The reaction, one suspects, was the same as most people who see either a picture of West Virginia University gymnast Hope Sloanhoffer or meet her for the first time in person — a quick double take, maybe even stumbling over the first few words of an introduction.

    April 17, 2014

  • FURFARI COLUMN: Comparing pay of coaches and professors

    Stringing together some odds and ends which may be of interest to you:
    • A beautiful lady came up to my table last Sunday at brunch in the Village of Heritage Point’s main dining room with a message.

    April 17, 2014

  • Bussie looks forward to WNBA

    On Tuesday, the weather turned cold, the wind blew and amongst the raindrops that fell a few snowflakes fluttered quietly to Earth.
    It was as if it was a celebration of Asya Bussie being drafted on Monday night by the Minnesota Lynx, champions of the WNBA, with the third selection of the second round, the 15th overall pick of the draft.

    April 16, 2014

  • 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

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