Ben Queen/MetroNews photo

West Virginia coach Bob Huggins pledges to produce a longer, more athletic team next season that can improve on two years’ of drab defensive performances.


MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Bob Huggins has a new hip and an old yearning for defense. He thinks both will allow him to enjoy next season.

During Tuesday night’s appearance on MetroNews “Sportsline,” Huggins blamed himself for overvaluing offensive-minded players the past two years, which he claims led to West Virginia’s defensive malaise. In 2013-14 the Mountaineers ranked last in the Big 12 in field-goal defense (44.7 percent) and eighth in points allowed per possession. That followed the 2012-13 season in which WVU ranked next-to-last in both categories.

The aggregate two-year results: a 30-35 record and no NCAA tournament berths.

“I didn’t do a very good job of holding those guys who made shots accountable at the defensive end,” Huggins said. “We didn’t guard and we didn’t stop anybody, and the problem with that is when you miss some shots other people tend to go on runs.”

With three of five newcomers enrolled, and holdovers Elijah Macon and Jonathan Holton set to become eligible this season, Huggins foresees a return to those taut defensive teams that trademarked his career.

“I think we’re going to be able to stop people,” he said. “We’re faster, we’re longer and I think we can do some more things than we did before at the defensive end. … We have tremendously increased our athleticism, which we needed to do. The Big 12 is a pretty athletic league.”

Freshmen Jevon Carter and Daxter Miles are on campus, along with Moberly (Mo.) Community College signee Jaysean Paige. Two other junior college additions, point guard Tarik Philip and small forward Billydee Williams, will arrive “within a week or so,” the coach said.

Following the transfers of sophomore double-digit scorers Eron Harris and Terry Henderson, the presumption was one of the juco signees would win the shooting guard job next to All-American candidate Juwan Staten. But that might be premature.

“Jevon Carter has played very well,” Huggins said. “He has shot the ball better than anybody on our team.”

As coaches begin their summer evaluation period, West Virginia has two commitments for the 2015 class—point guard James Bolden of Covington, Ky., and center Levi Cook of Huntington Prep—leaving at least one spot available.

The Mountaineers have yet to receive a commitment for 2016, when at least three scholarships project to come open.

“We need a big, obviously, and I think we need another skill guy—somebody who can eventually evolve into Juwan Staten’s role,” Huggins said. “Then I’d really like to have a 6-7, 6-8 guy who’s like Da’Sean Butler.”

The 60-year-old Huggins celebrated one month since having his right hip replaced June 9, a surgery he delayed for several years for fear of tackling the rehab.

“It just got to the point where I wasn’t very functional,” he said.

Huggins used a sideline stool last season after it became too painful to get up out of the folding chairs on the bench. Now he has started biking and is regaining mobility in the leg.

“It hurt for a while. I guess when they saw your leg in half it has a tendency to hurt,” he said. “Now I can actually lift my leg up—I don’t have to pick it up with my hands.”

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  • Big Hooptie

    Awesome! So he's making the same promise he did prior to last season!

    I expect minimal change if that's the goal...

  • Barry

    Bob’s pledge - interpretation: we are going to have a team this year like we had years prior to Henderson and Harris; a team that could not throw the ball into the ocean if they were standing on the beach; a team that hacks, slaps and scores 50 points a game. Well sorry Bob, but I am not buying your brand of basketball anymore and I know a lot of southern West Virginians who aren’t either. I talk to a lot of people in the southern part of the state and no one is happy with this program. We are tired of the foul language, screaming, players transferring, and recruiting criminals just to name a few.

    So all of you Huggins’ Sucks keep cheering for your drinking buddy, and go ahead and get all blue lipped at fans who care about the integrity of the program, but the fact of the matter is I am not buying in. I won’t until we get a coach with class, and a lot of people around the state feel the same way.

    • T-Bone

      Who cares about southern West Virginia? Go root for Marshall if you don't like WVU. The northern part of the state will be just fine without you.

    • Shadow

      Somehow, I can't remember any criminals. Could you name a few and the years they played?

  • any major dude

    I've said it before and I'll say it again; you don't forget how to coach. Once you know how to coach, you don't forget it. Once you know how to run a practice, you don't forget. Once you know offense and defense and rebounding, you don't forget it. Once you know how to recruit, you don't just forget how to recruit.
    How them to explain two losing seasons? 1) Alzheimer's. As far as I can tell by interviews, he does not have Alzheimer's or early dementia. 2) he signed a long-term contract and is now complacent. Don't a lot of coaches have a long-term contracts? Has it made Izzo or Coach K or Calipari or Pitino complacent? 3) The game has passed him by. But what does this mean? Is it code for "modern players don't like to be yelled at?"
    I agree that players who are good players don't like to be yelled at without cause, but how much did he yell at Day Butler or Ebanks or Juwan Staten? Seems to me he yelled at guys who did wrong and deserved it. 4) He could recruit to Cincinnati but not to WVU. Really? Cincinnati?
    I would love to hear comments about exactly why Huggins cannot coach any more from those who believe it, not just mindless attacks.

  • Dave

    I still have the utmost respect for Huggs. Still think he will get the job done. Best of luck Huggs with the hip replacement recovery and the team.



    Huggins needs to be replaced, pure and simple.
    He has no compassion to run a good and legit program at WVU, and that is sad. He has lost respect from players, fans, the BigXII, and many boosters.

  • Shadow

    For those of you that have never had bad knees, bad hips or bad back, let me tell you something. You always assume that you can always walk or run to accomplish a task or just to have fun. When every minute standing or every step walking is extreme pain, you develop an attitude that tries to reduce that pain and that is to stay put. Drugs don't help, they only numb your body and worse, your brain. Pray that it never happens to you as your life is reduced to a chair or bed if you don't want to hurt.

  • VaultHunter

    This article looks a lot like one I read here before last season.

    Maybe he should pledge no player transfers, no more shoulder shrugging, and no more players thugging it up.

    • Jim Kinzer

      players "thugging it up"?

      oh, I'd love to hear this one....

  • Capt. Obviouos

    Nice passive aggressive swipe at Harris and Henderson....let it go and win some games, Bob.

    • Aaron

      How is the truth a passive aggressive swipe?

      • mudzbrother

        Passive aggressive comments and the truth are not necessarily mutually exclusive but what is surprising is that Huggs seems to have reattached the rearview mirror.

        • Aaron

          Perhaps but it is true that while they may have been offensive threats, H & H were sorely lacking on defense, particularly Harris and once Baylor showed how to defend him, he was a liability.

          • Capt. Obvious

            Who recruited those bums?

  • John

    Stop the excuses Huggs and get some results! You are certainly in the running for most overpaid coach in the country. You already have the most overpaid coach in WV locked up!

    • notorius

      Re: Most overpaid coach in WV; see Holgorsen, Dana; DeForest, Joe; Dawson, Shannon

  • any major dude

    I agree that our defense should be the emphasis at this point. And Huggs does take responsibility for the poor D. But I have to admit I'm a little baffled. No sooner has he said D is the emphasis when he then implies Carter will play along Staten because he is shooting the ball better than anyone on the team.

  • Mister Man

    Good luck with your rehab and our season, Coach.

  • Dave

    Speedy recovery Coach Huggs. Put us Mountaineer fans a good product out on the court this year. You've got the pieces now coach'em up.


    • Mister Man

      Yeh buddy.

  • Diaspora

    I tend to be optimistic at this point because regardless of what you think of Bob Huggins as person or BB coach, he has always been candid, pre-season and In the midst of a season, about how he feels about his team's strengths, weaknesses, and overall abilities. He doesn't tend to mask it too much in coaching platitudes. Could this possibly be why he is so loathed by so many?: he calls it as he sees it and tells is like it is. He does not always tell us what we want to hear. There was once a time and place where this was known as sincerity, and it was valued more than platitudes and outright lies.

  • WV Grad

    Promises, promises. What about performance?

  • cutty77

    I wish Huggy the best,because he has and always will be a Great Friend of mine. But i think he is at The end. The end sneaks up on everyone of us. I want Bob to go out on Top,but i think it has passed him by. Hope I'm wrong on this. Father Time waits waits on no one.

    • Made the T-Shirts

      Bob and I have been very tight for years. In fact, I have been there, done that, with him and am now still trying to recover from the damage I have done to myself. He is an extremely important part of my life and I think that in the end, he sneaks up on himself and on all of us. I want Bob to be the tops but in likes walking around in his bottoms so "it be what it be". Time has passed and I am not wrong so his father, Time Huggins, waits for him two times and on no one. I can't go on because I make to much sense.

      • OKANYDAY

        cutty77 made some great points, but "made the T-shirts" sounds sort of stupid or on a crying drunk one.

        • Bought Some of Those T-Shirts

          Agree with Made...cutty made no sense...check out the grammar...and I liked the parody...he's just fun'in...get a life. Besides, all caps is not just sort of stupid, it is stupid...and speaking of stupid, "or on a crying drunk one" refers to what? Why not "or on a crying drunk seven, or fifteen, or say, ninety nine?