MORGANTOWN., W.Va. — Bob Huggins sounded not at all like the coach of a 16-6 team ranked in the top 25, but more like a man at the end of his net.
West Virginia had lost for the fifth time in six games, lost to the least-scary team in the Big 12, and lost 93-77. Iowa State’s NIT hopes were reborn and the Mountaineers’ league title hopes all but buried.
Huggins did not stomach this one. He roasted players for lackadaisical defense that facilitated 62-percent shooting by the Cyclones, complained about the disorganization on offense, lamented their practice habits, and called out their passive acceptance of a blowout.
A sampling of the postgame barbecue from Huggs:
— “Everybody seems bouncier than us, everybody seems more athletic than we are. We took so much pride in getting to the ball and making plays and being a great offensive rebounding team, but everybody’s better than we are now.”
— “We don’t guard. We don’t have any pride in guarding.”
— “We’re not tough enough to sustain anything.”
— “In 40 years I never had guys come out of the huddle and not be where they supposed to be to run a set play. Never had that happen … but I was a hell of a lot meaner back then too, because those guys wouldn’t have played for about five games.”
— “We don’t lose five out of six. because (usually) when we lose we come back with a vengeance. But our guys don’t do that.”
— “The ones who don’t want to compete, then I need to find them somewhere else to go.
It’s that simple.”
— “These guys have single-handedly destroyed Press Virginia. We can’t guard anybody.”
— “I’m 64 years old and I don’t know how much longer I’ve got to go, but I’m not going to leave this program in bad shape. I’m not going to do it. I love this state and the university too much to do that.”
Huggins making an end-of-the-line references sounds jarring, even for a guy notorious for taking every loss hard. The RPI shows West Virginia at No. 33, still safely within the NCAA field. However, if this stretch of poor play lingers into the second go-round of the Big 12, Selection Sunday will be suspenseful.
For now, Huggins must take account of why his players aren’t performing, why he’s not reaching them, and where the leadership arises from within the team.
As Iowa State coach Steve Prohm noted from Wednesday night’s winning side, “When you’re making shots things look great, and when you’re missing shots the world’s ending.”