Reticent Huggins Keeps Thoughts To Himself In Aftermath Of Dismissals
West Virginia head coach Bob Huggins is usually quite open and loquacious in answering questions concerning his team, but Thursday morning was the exception that proves the rule.
Beginning with a seven-word answer concerning the recent dismissals of Esa Ahmad and Wes Harris — “I am unable to talk about it” — the veteran head coach was reticent in his responses to a handful of questions. He also noted that he had not had a team-wide discussion with the remaining players on the roster concerning their departure.
As the dismissal of the duo came from the athletic department for a violation of rules, there are likely some student privacy issues involved, but it was still a bit out of character for a coach that usually doesn’t hold back his opinions. He did mention, though, that the upcoming game against Kansas will be a totally different situation than the previous encounter, when the Mountaineers got their best win of the season on their home court.
“It is a completely different roster. Esa made two threes and a two when we got back in the game and he won’t be there. We will have to have some people step up that haven’t stepped up yet. We lost two guys that have been the leaders of the team.”
Given the many comments and discussion about the lack of leadership on the 2018-19 Mountaineer squad, including some from Huggins himself, it was even more strange to hear him term the pair as ‘leaders’ although he may have been using it just in a relative sense. At this point, though, moving on is the priority, and Huggins was also quite pragmatic about that task.
“I don’t think we are going to make drastic changes, we are just going to have different people doing it,” he said in response to a query concerning what his team will doing over the final seven games of the regular season. “It’s hard to make changes in a couple days of practice.”
Forwards such as Emmitt Matthews and Drew Gordon will likely have to take up some of the minutes vacated due to the dismissals. WVU could go with a pair of post players at times, although foul considerations sometimes obviate against that. Three-guard sets could also be in the offing, but there simply aren’t many obvious answers for a team that has been in free fall throughout the Big 12 season.
Practices in the aftermath of Saturday’s home embarrassment at the hands of Texas “have been good and enthusiastic,” according to Huggins, but drawing any parallel between that and renewed enthusiasm or the hope of better showings in games would be tenuous at best. The same has been characterized at other points in the season, but have produced no lasting effects in play on the court.
Huggins was also quiet concerning the status of Beetle Bolden and Sagaba Konate, who have both been sideline with injuries. Bolden downgraded from a full boot to a hard ankle brace prior to the Texas game, and was not on crutches, while Konate continued to sport a knee brace over his warmups. Asked if either could be ready to play Saturday against Kansas, he ended the sessions with another seven-word response.
“I don’t know the answer to that.”