Huggins Already Looking Forward To Next Season

Huggins Already Looking Forward To Next Season

It seemed to be the perfect time to touch base with Bob Huggins, it being his last day in Florida and knowing that there’s not a whole lot to do when it is being besieged with rain.

What’s more, it also was a day of import in another vein, for it was the first day of the NBA Combine, where the fate of his team for next season well may be decided as Sagaba Konate struts his stuff for the NBA scouts.

Bob Huggins

Huggins, however, didn’t seem all that concerned.

He’s taking Konate at his word, noting that, “he has said all along if he’s a first-round pick, he is going to the NBA.”

With that in mind, Huggins has lined up a back up plan, noting that he “has two 6-foot-10 guys coming in” in prep school phenom Derek Culver and junior college star Andrew Gordon.

Of Culver he notes that, “everyone would have been recruiting him if he hadn’t committed to us the year before.” And as for Gordon, “he was the best big junior college kid that was out there.”

And, Huggins rushes to remind you that he has a 7-footer coming back in Logan Routt, “who played pretty well down the stretch.”

Put it together, Huggins believes he’s more than adequately covered if Konate heads into the NBA and, if he returns, he gives WVU as good a situation as there is in college basketball for next season.

In fact, even with the losses to graduation of Jevon Carter, one of the best guards WVU has ever had, and Daxter Miles, a four-year starter, and the transfer of reserve Teddy Allen, who offered instant offense and constant headaches on defense, Huggins sees a team that may provide even a better chance to bust through the Sweet 16 and go deeply into the NCAA Tournament next season.

One of the keys, oddly enough, was here last season.

That would be point guard Brandon Knapper, who sat out last season after undergoing knee surgery.

“J.C. (Jevon Carter) said he was as hard to play against as anyone he played against because he’s so physically strong,” Huggins noted, speaking of Knapper’s play on the scout team. “He took care of the ball. He came in and really worked on his shot and at the end he was shooting the ball so much better. Had he not hurt his knee, he’d have played. He would have been, maybe, our first guy off the bench.”

And that, maybe more than anything else, is what WVU lacked last year, something Huggins has given a lot of thought to since the troubled Sweet 16 defeat by eventual champion Villanova.

“Hindsight, I think we probably played JC and Dax’ too much. We had to play them through some foul trouble and through some fatigue, which we didn’t do before. This group will allow us to stay fresher,” Huggins said.

“We had periods (last season) where it just looked like we got tired. Playing the way we play, you are going to get tired. We didn’t have the depth. There was such a drop-off when we took those two guys out because we just didn’t have the depth. This year, I don’t think it will be that way.

“We may, in a lot of instances, get stronger coming off the bench.”

Huggins went for depth and size in his recruiting, especially at guard where he would be playing Knapper and Beetle Bolden. His first high school recruit was a good one: Jordan McCabe, the slick point guard who was Mr. Basketball in Wisconsin but comes in at 5-foot-10 and 155 pounds.

But he added Trey Doomes, an athletic 6-foot-3 shooting guard from high school, along with 6-foot-6 Emmitt Mathews and junior college star Jermaine Haley, a 6-foot-8 forward who Huggins says, “is a really talented guy.”

The result is a different kind of team than last season’s, one that he believes will take care of the fatigue he saw down the stretch and that cost his team late in far too many games.

“The answer is more depth,” Huggins explained. “We had two guys who were very good, and Esa (Ahmad), at times, was very good. But before we had maybe five guys who were very good. So they were fresher. They didn’t make some of the mistakes that we made last year. When you go back and look at it, the mistakes were fatigue-related.

“So you say, why didn’t you play anyone else? The answer is pretty obvious. They were not near as good.”

This year, though, he sees talent up and down his lineup and bench.

“Hopefully, we have more guys who can do different kinds of things, so we may be more adaptable to different situations,” Huggins said.

And, as an added extra bonus, Huggins is expecting a different Lamont West as a shooter now that he has had surgery on his injured right wrist with which he played last season.

“That was why he couldn’t make shots,” Huggins explained. “The same thing happened to Nate (Adrian) as a sophomore, only Nate had a cyst and Lamont had a tear. You tear something in your right wrist and you can’t shoot. Think about the shots he made in his career — he makes open shots. He had open shots last year and they weren’t close.”

Now, think about all this and how WVU lost its games last season … blowing late leads in the second half while fatigued.

And, while you’re at it, think about the final loss in the NCAA Tournament’s Sweet 16 to Villanova.

Huggins has.


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    Huggins Already Looking Forward To Next Season It seemed to be the perfect time to touch base with Bob Huggins, it being his last day in Florida and k
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    Good to see Huggs saying what I saw.I wasat the Big 12 tournament and the fatigue was clear in the championship game against Kansas. Miles and Carter were lighting things up the first 30 to 35 minutes then couldn’t hit anything down the stretch. I know defense can cause that but they were missing open shots. When that happens only two things I know of are fatigue or getting caught up in the moment. As seniors very doubtful Carter and Miles got caught up in the moment. Same thing in Villanova game–game was 60-60 just under 10 minutes WVU then made only 4 field goals the last 10 minutes.


    I like how this team is shaping up, particularly if Konate comes back. But, senior leadership at guard shouldn’t be underestimated. And I will be greatly surprised if anyone on the current roster approximates Cater’s defense. College teams always have to regroup and move on, and Huggs has done a good job in restocking. Probably a great job. Dax and Carter will be missed though.


    Agree that fatigue was an issue as the season wore on. There just wasn’t any way to take Carter off the court.

    Also agree that experience for the guys that handle the ball is really important, especially in crunch time and late in the season. There’s just not a lot of that on the returning and incoming roster. Hopefully one or two guys will grab the reins there and develop enough to ride through the postseason.

    Also, 100% agree that no one replaces Carter. Been working on something with how WVU’s press will look different next year, and how it could morph some, but Carter’s impact on the game defensively was staggering.


    Huggs has done a great job of regrouping this year. Better IMO than most other years including the “I’ll fix it” year.
    We will miss Carter and Dax, especially their D. But don’t overlook what the new guys can do. We have more depth at G than we’ve had in years and definitely more length even with McCabe and Bolden being sup 6′. Our length will give us a different look on D. PressVirginia will still be there, just with a different look.
    The depth of this team is overall ridiculous. We have at least 2 deep at each position and players that can play 2,3 and 4 positions. When has that ever happened? This team could see the 11,12 and 13th players on the bench fighting for major pt. That’s how deep I think we are.
    If Sags comes back we are a legit FF possibility.


    I’m excited for the upcoming season as well. Hope my thoughts are not over hyping myself.


    We’ll know in a week or so. If Sags comes back I bet we’ll see a flurry of season tix sold. Even without Sags, this team will compete.

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