Huggins: Maturation Needed For Mountaineers

Proper Mentality Missing As WVU Enters Meat Of Noncon Slate

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – Bob Huggins challenged his team to grow up after the win over NJIT.

It wasn’t that the game lacked every bit of expected lopsidedness. The Mountaineers used 25 points from Jevon Carter and four other double-figure scorers in a 102-69 victory that was every bit as bad as the final indicated. But once again, WVU was lackluster at the start and the old issues reared the head with Sags Konate in foul trouble, Dax Miles with the cooler portion of his hot-and-cold shooting and the visitors keeping West Virginia off the offensive glass early in hanging around for the initial portions of the game.

What’s really bothering Huggins, though, is not just the lack of execution, but the way in which his team is handling itself. Konate played just four minutes in the first half because of two quick fouls, then sat for the final 16. He then played in stretches in the second half before taking a seat for a long lecture from Huggins as the game wound down.

Miles, coming off a 26-point performance against Missouri in the AdvoCare Invitational title game, scored just eight points with two assists and four fouls, but worked to find teammates and chose to attack the bucket rather than hoist long-range attempts. Magic Bender got stripped multiple times early, and never showed the toughness or willingness to grab and grasp the ball rather than weakly handling it. And the overall defensive effort was left wanting, NJIT getting solid step-in looks and being able to navigate the man-to-man for quality looks to the tune of 34 points in the paint.

“We can’t give up 34 points in the paint to people,” Huggins said. “We can’t turn people loose the way we turn people loose. We can’t turn people loose to the middle who can one, finish around the rim and two, pass it to other people who are spotted up outside. We have to cut the floor in half and we didn’t do that. We are so inexperienced it’s hard to make adjustments and then you take them out because they are very rarely where they are supposed to be and they pout.

“We need some guys to grow up. Forget the basketball, we act like we are eighth graders. You score a basket and then you yell at the guy you scored against? What is wrong with people? If that would have happened when I played you would have got punched in the face. Maybe that’s what deterred all that stuff. I tell our guys all the time I don’t care what they do. I care what we do.”

Which is be fairly average in multiple facets. West Virginia is certainly better than it was early in the year, particularly against Texas A&M in the opener. It has reached the 100-plus point mark twice, and it once again throttled a lesser foe in NJIT while managing 29 points off 19 forced turnovers. WVU also had 17 assists against 12 turnovers, but those 17 figured in less than half of the 35 field goals.

It was a ho-hum win, and that’s not what Huggins is wanting at this point, especially with No. 18 and undefeated UVA headed to the Coliseum on Tuesday. West Virginia’s biggest foes in some of these match-ups is the Mountaineers themselves, and in that regard the grade was not one of passing in this game.

“I worry about out immaturity all the time,” Huggins said. “It’s seemingly so much easier to come back from failure than success and we have to learn how to do that. We are so much a work in progress, but the honest to God’s truth is were last year at this time.”

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    Proper Mentality Missing As WVU Enters Meat Of Noncon Slate MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – Bob Huggis challenged his team to grow up after the win over NJIT. It
    [See the full post at: Huggins: Maturation Needed For Mountaineers]


    Next game is big. Sure would show progress to beat the Cavaliers.


    This will be a test for sure. Cavs have a good team with pretty good G play.


    Seems he is just at a loss on getting Sags to mature and understand that he is part of a team and his inability to control his emotions is really hurting this team.

    Think about it…

    1. Freakish athletic ability
    2. Amazing rim protector
    3. Nice 15-17 foot jumper
    4. Nice little jump hook
    5. Can power through bodies underneath and throw it down when least expected
    6. Pretty decent foul shooter
    7. Runs the court well

    What’s missing?
    All things mental. The kid could be a real force but has to grow up a little and understand the team concept.

    In his defense he comes from nowhere, has never had to use anything beyond his physical abilities to dominate and he is still grasping the language.

    When he gets it… look out!


    He just needs time in the game. This kid hasn’t been playing ball that long.


    Butler – that seems to ignore the fact Huggs makes it clear he tends not to be coachable, not interested in learning. Sad as the kid literally has a pot of gold waiting by on him should he listen to Huggs and get his head in the game.


    Mali has 18 million people. It has problems, but it’s certainly “somewhere.”


    Mali has 18 million people. It has problems, but it’s certainly “somewhere.”

    It’s just around the corner from Nowhere.


    For some reason, I can’t quote, but, to quote Mex on the 4th post down, I agree:

    I thought Sags was “getting it” somewhere between mid-season and the end of it last year (which I was absolutely amazed by), but somehow has relapsed into a freshman who goes into this level with that ‘deer looking into the headlights’ mentality.

    The kid has WAY more than “upside,” he’s got some monstrous potential, if only he will stop listening to whatever in the hell he’s listening to in his own head at present–and instead, listen to what his coaches are telling him, for his own benefit (not to mention benefiting the team).

    My feeling is, he’ll get it together once and for all after he learns to let the game come to him, rather than trying to force himself onto the game. It’s all good from my perspective…


    Huggins is asking a lot more from Sags this year. He could be spotted in last year to do a specific thing. Now WV has to rely on him. Much more demanding role. He isn’t up to it yet, but maybe a light will come on at some point. It did for a Joe Alexander, for example. He was a head case until he wasn’t. Give Hugg’s some time to work his mojo.


    I wrote about this in my column in the magazine this week, so subscribers can read more of my take there.

    One point: I don’t think Sags is uncoachable, or not interested in learning. I doubt if he has ever had so many things to learn at one time, and this is piled on his assimilation into US culture. I think it’s the opposite, in fact. He wants to do well, and is frustrated when things go wrong. (Heck, I’ve been playing and watching hoops all my life, and the cylinder rule and some of the freedom of movement calls are baffling to me too.)

    Now, if he is still at this stage this time next year, I’ll agree there’s a problem. But working out of these issues is something that takes time, and a lot of these lessons only take hold with teaching from games.

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