The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

February 28, 2012

Huggins has never been so frustrated with freshmen

By Mickey Furfari
For The Register-Herald

MORGANTOWN — I’ve never seen coach Bob Huggins as frustrated as he was after the West Virginia men’s basketball team’s 61-60 loss to 10th-ranked Marquette last Friday night.

So much so, he decided that some of the freshmen he and his assistants recruited should be thinking about where they’re going to go from WVU.

He gave every indication that those have not measured up to expectations. They obviously haven’t taken to coaching as well or as quickly as previous recruits.

Under current NCAA regulations, a scholarship can be revoked after one year. It used to be that an athlete was assured of a four-year scholarship.

This is the first time that I’ve ever heard Huggins speak in such terms. He had never made that threat in public.

With only three veterans on the squad, the Mountaineers go into tonight’s home finale against DePaul with a disappointing 17-12 record, including 7-9 in the Big East.

That’s hardly NCAA Tournament caliber. And it’s certainly not even close to satisfying Huggins, who’s in his 30th year of collegiate coaching.

Make no mistake, the former WVU player who graduated magna cum laude is a great coach. He’s fourth among the nation’s winningest active coaches.

Huggins, who has more than 700 victories to his credit, said the truism today is you have to play, every play. He stressed, “You can’t take plays off. You can’t stand and stare at the ball.”

Continuing to talk about the Marquette contest, he said, “I’ve been (coaching) 30 years now. We’ve never got outmanned like we did today. We’ve never been outmanned (generally).

“We don’t get the loose balls. We had the situation where we threw the ball away, which we do a lot.

“I’ve never had a guy get out of the way and never take a charge. I’ve never had that — I despise cowards.”

Huggins added that maybe the coaches should line the freshmen up for three hours in a practice and force them to take a charge.

But some of the members of this year’s recruiting classes haven’t developed like the coaching staff projected.

Injuries also have been a factor, along with some departures.

This young team still hopes to improve its record — and NCAA Tournament chances — with the Big East tourney still ahead.