By Mickey Furfari
For The Register-Herald
Coach Bob Huggins is still searching for three or four freshmen who can help three veterans on the West Virginia University men’s basketball team.
But the young Mountaineers (1-1) aren’t likely to be seriously tested in today’s 7 p.m. game against Alcorn State (0-0) at the Coliseum.
This is the first meeting between the two schools. The visitors from Lorman, Miss., won just four games last year.
Four starters return among nine lettermen.
WVU defeated Oral Roberts 78-71 in its season’s opener.
But Huggins unhappily sited numerous flaws, including 17 turnovers and poor clutch foul shooting, in Tuesday’s 70-60 loss to a veteran Kent State team at the Coliseum.
After that contest, Huggins had this to say:
“The truth is we’re not good enough to shoot 16 for 28 at the foul line, turn the ball over 17 times, and in particular turnovers that directly led to baskets.”
Huggins said he told the Mountaineers at halftime, when WVU led by five points, that Kent State was coming back out to compete like it did a year ago, and it did in the second-half, game-winning comeback.
“And we just let them right back into the game,” Huggins said.
Some of the turnovers were on steals.
That admittedly troubled the veteran head coach, who’s in his 30th year and ranks fourth in career victories among the nation’s active NCAA Division I coaches.
Huggins recalled that he grew up with a basketball in an Ohio gymnasium, with his father a high school coach, and he learned early never to allow anyone to steal a basketball in his possession.
Apparently some of his six freshmen aren’t protecting the ball, and that’s why he told the story about his boyhood years.
“We can’t overcome missed shots,” Huggins said.
“We’re not good enough to do that.”
He intends to correct the team’s flaws. As part of that, extra emphasis on rebounding resulted in the Mountaineers outrebounding Kent State by 46-31.
“But I can’t fix everything at once, “ the coach said. “The bottom line is, we’ve got to find three or four of those guys who can play all the time.
“We’re going to make some bad plays, but our effort should change (for the better).”
Kevin Jones remains the clear-cut WVU leader.
The 6-foot-8, 260-pound senior forward is averaging 17.5 points and 13.0 rebounds per game. He has made 15 of 24 shots from the field.
Deniz Kililci, a 6-foot-9, 260-pound junior from Turkey, is scoring at an 11-point clip and is pulling down nine rebounds per outing.
The other upperclassman, Darryl “Truck” Bryant, a 6-2, 185-pound senior guard, is averaging 14.5 points per game. He has made 12 of 16 free throws but has made a team-high 10 turnovers.