Mountaineer Forwards Adding Athleticism

Huggins Likes Added Athletic Ability For West Virginia

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – Bob Huggins has often said he’s never been in a place where he could simply select players for his preferred style.

Instead, he’s had to match his teams to the skill set of the players, which has varied from the grind-it-out approach of the 2010 Final Four team to the outside shooting circa 2011-14, to the Press Virginia of today. What he has often gotten is great athletes, and players who love the game and maximize effectiveness with effort. Such is the case this season, as Huggins signed a five-player class consisting of guard Brandon Knapper and four forwards: Teddy Allen at 6-5, D’Angelo Hunter at 6-6, Wesley Harris at 6-8 and Derek Culver at 6-10.

“Wes and D’Angelo really do help around the rim,” Huggins said. “Their athleticism, their length. Teddy just scores. It’s amazing what he does sometimes. Funny shot, but it goes in. Really good at putting his shoulder into people and scoring. He’s one of those guys, I don’t know what he is. But he will play because he plays really hard. He really rebounds it.”

It begs the question: With Allen’s shot, did Huggins see a need to make it match a more traditional look, or does the adage of it not being broke hold? Allen is, after all, consistently hitting jumpers.

WVU head basketball coach Bob Huggins (right) discusses his team with television analyst Jim Spanarkel

“I’ve fixed a bunch of them,” he said. “It really comes down to you have to have your elbow and your hand under the ball or you will never be consistent. Now, it gets there a lot of different ways. (Former WVU forward) Kevin Jones did everything wrong, but at the end of the day he had his elbow and his hand under the ball and got great lift on it and made shots. He jumped backwards, did a lot of stuff wrong, but at the end of the day it went in.”

Of now, the coaching staff can directly work with the players two hours per week, in addition to strength and conditioning and film study. That will ramp up on Sept. 29 – 42 days before the season-opener at Ramstein Air Base in Germany against Texas A&M –  when preseason practice begins.

“Right now is hard, because I don’t want to bore the older guys to death, but we have to teach these younger guys,” Huggins said of the limited time. “They’ve been really good, though.”

Huggins also said forwards Logan Routt, Magic Bender and Sags Konate have shown steady improvement. Bender, a native of Poland, and Konate, from Mali, struggled with the language barrier for much of last season, but have gained a better understanding of exactly what Huggins wants as their English improved. The 6-foot-11 Routt, meanwhile, benefited from the redshirt season and seems primed for reasonable minutes this season.

“Much better. He’s more gifted than I think everybody gives him credit for,” Huggins said of Routt. “He’s making plays. He’s going to play. All he has to do is stand in front of the rim, protect the rim. We’ll chase people down there to him.”

Huggins also said state native Chase Harler has diligently worked at his jump-shooting. The guard hit just 28.6 percent (8-for-28) from the floor as a freshman last year, and actually shot worse from inside the arc than out. Huggins noted WVU would know more about Culver’s eligibility on Monday. It’s expected that the four-star recruit will not be able to enroll due to academics, and will have to attend junior college.