Huggins Sour Despite Blowout

Coach Bob Huggins ripped his West Virginia team after a 95-53 exhibition win over Glenville State. (Joe Sadlek/All-Pro Photography)

The 95-53 exhibition shellacking of Glenville State was minutes old when coach Bob Huggins did some shellacking of his own in West Virginia’s locker room.

“His mood definitely wasn’t good,” said transfer forward Matt Humphrey, his head shaking. “We’ve just got a lot of stuff we’ve got to work on. Things we work on in practice everyday, we weren’t executing the way we should have.”

Only five days before beginning the season with a midnight matchup at Gonzaga, Huggins sounded despondent over several facets of WVU’s performance, from periods of questionable effort to bouts of sloppy ballhandling. He thought his team’s 46-34 rebounding margin should have been more sizable, given the Mountaineers’ massive edge in height and athleticism.

“Size isn’t any good unless you rebound the ball with it,” he said.

See the photo gallery from Tuesday night’s exhibition.

West Virginia led the Division II Pioneers 19-4 after 11 minutes before the margin bulged to 48-22 at the half. By that juncture Huggins was peeved by the Mountaineers’ nine turnovers.

“Careless,” he said. “We’ve got nine turnovers when they’re playing a 2-3 zone. We’re just very careless with the basketball.”

Deniz Kilicli scored 19 points on 8-of-10 shooting to pace the Mountaineers, while point guard Juwan Staten was 6-of-8 for 16 points. Aaric Murray had 13 points and nine rebounds, and Volodymyr Gerun — the Ukrainian recruit who must serve an NCAA-mandated six-game suspension to open the regular season — added 12 points off the bench in 12 minutes.

Huggins offered a morsel of praise for Staten, the Dayton transfer who dished out six assists and zero turnovers. (“He tried to run the team,” Huggins said, “Tried to do the right things.”) Huggins also liked the effort of sophomore forward Kevin Noreen, who played alongside Kilicli for spells and finished with eight points and seven rebounds in 18 minutes.

WVU shot 50 percent for the game overall, while Glenville was held to 32-percent shooting, but Huggins found little cause for enthusiasm. The Mountaineers also finished 1-of-14 from 3-point-range, which Huggins attributed to “awful” shot preparation. “When I looked at (the shooters’) feet, it was terrible,” he said. “They had no chance to make it.”

Jabarie Hinds started at shooting guard and went 1-of-7 from the floor, a surprising turn considering how Huggins bragged on the sophomore’s shooting in preseason practice.

“He’s been good, but he wasn’t today,” the coach said. “Had four turnovers, and I think they gave someone else one of his. I think he had five in the first half. We can’t win like that.”

Coming off the bench, Humphrey was 0-for-4 on 3-pointers — and 2-of-8 overall, finishing with four points — though he played a turnover-free 15 minutes while contributing three rebounds, two assists, one block and one steal.

“Coach was trying to get a lot of guys in the game, but as we get closer to the season, that rotation’s going to get shorter,” Humphrey said. “And coach is going to put them on a shorter leash.”

Despite the wide margin of victory, Huggins came across more disappointed than after last year’s preseason loss to Northern Kentucky. He was asked if Tuesday night’s game film might present any positive takeaways.

“Yes,” he said. “We’re going to look at how we didn’t run any offense. We’re going to look at how we didn’t transition down the floor. We’re going to look at how we didn’t rebound the ball.

“I’ve got some guys who if they can’t play harder than what they played today, I really don’t need them to play.”

Dominique Rutledge added seven points and four rebounds. Keaton Miles, the starter at small forward, had five points, four rebounds, three steals and two blocks. He made West Virginia’s lone 3-pointer.

Lamont Cole was the sole double-digit scorer for Glenville State with 10 points. The Pioneers committed 26 turnovers overall to WVU’s 13.

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Allan Taylor’s postgame exhibition report:

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