Huggins Pulling Out All Stops In Attempt To End WVU Slide
MORGANTOWN,W.Va. — Yesterday’s hero and maybe tomorrow’s hero merged in Bob Huggins’ life on Thursday and he’s hoping between the two — a guy named Jerry West and a freshman named Trey Doomes III — he can come up with the answer to turning his West Virginia basketball team around.
“I spoke to Jerry yesterday and you just listen to him and you realize why he was what he was,” Huggins said. ‘He has that presence, that aura… even on the phone from California.”
It was like talking to the man with the answer to injecting life into a team that has been playing possum into an 8-7 record with an 0-2 Big 12 mark entering Saturday’s noon game against Oklahoma State (7-8, 1-2) at the Coliseum that will be shown on ESPNU.
“Not that we have ever had anyone like Jerry West, but that was Da’Sean Butler. I’m not saying he was Jerry West, but he had that air of confidence.”
Right now, the confidence is slipping away rapidly as Huggins has lost faith in a number of players to make plays when needed.
That is what has brought him Doomes, the freshman he was planning on redshirting this year even though he says “he’s our best athlete, by far.”
Going into the season Huggins saw Beetle Bolden, Brandon Knapper, Jordan McCabe, Jermaine Haley, Chase Harler and Emmitt Mathews giving him enough depth at the guard spot that he wouldn’t have to waste Doomes’ year by playing just to get his feet wet.
But that group has not lived up to expectations, Bolden because of injuries getting an pass.
“The only one who hasn’t had a chance is Trey Doomes,” Huggins said. “We insert Trey Doomes and maybe he gives us that spark. It’s not like we’re getting drilled. We’re losing close games. Maybe he gives us that spark we need. It’s worth a try.”
Indeed, WVU’s three conference losses are by a combined 12 points.
“We had it like this back in 2010, but we won them. It’s been that way. This isn’t a league where anyone runs way and hides from someone. This is a very highly contested league … every game,” Huggins suggested.
“You have to find a way to win. We haven’t been able to find a way to win.”
Is Doomes that person that can change it? Huggins has been seeing him do things that make him think it’s possible and the timing is right, facing the team that was picked to finish last in the Big 12 this year.
“He made a play yesterday that I haven’t seen anybody make since Casey Mitchell,” Huggins said of Thursday’s practice. “He had a dunk over Derek Culver that was big time. We haven’t had anyone who can do that. Esa can dunk because he has such huge hands, not because he can jump.”
WVU will be without Sagaba Konate again but he did attend — not take part in — Thursday’s practice and had a doctor’s appointment on Friday but Huggins had no report by the time the Mountaineers practiced on Friday.
Doomes is happy to shed his redshirt to get a chance to play.
And Huggins is happy to give him the chance.
|WVU (8-7/0-2) vs. Kansas St (10-4/0-2)||Date: Sat Jan 12||Time: 12:00 PM ET|
|Venue: WVU Coliseum||Loc: Morgantown, WV||Series: WVU 7-6|
|NET: WVU – 87 OSU – 72||TV: ESPN2||Last: OSU 88-85 (2018)|
|Twitter: @BlueGoldNews||Facebook: BlueGoldNews||Web: BlueGoldNews.com|
“I don’t think there’s any doubt we got some guys who don’t need to be in at the end of the game,” Huggins said, referring mistakes that have been made late in the close games that includes defensive lapses, turnovers and missed free throws. “It’s one thing for it to happen once, but when it continues to happen it’s my fault if I let them be in there then.
“It’s not their fault for not making a play because I should know by now they can’t.”
Huggins is looking for that extra that the likes of West and Butler brought to the program.
“When you aspire to be good, when you aspire to be great, things work out. I never, ever worried whether, for instance, Da’Sean Butler was going to stay after practice. He stayed every day. I never worried if Joe Alexander would stay after practice. He stayed every day,” Huggins said, beginning a familiar sermon of his.
“We could go right down the line. You could come in here two or three hours before a game and Jevon Carter was in here getting shots. He would come in and change twice before the game because he was perspiring so much.”
But this year?
“We got guys running in here now just trying not to be late. It blows my mind, the priorities. I guess when I was younger it was a whole lot harder or me to accept than it does now. Not that I accept it now, but when I was younger I’d have been bonkers.’