— Story by Taylor Kennedy
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Bob Huggins is entering his 14th season guiding the WVU men’s basketball program. The upcoming 2020-21 season will be the most unusual season Huggins has encountered.
WVU was scheduled to start the upcoming season on November 10th against Fairleigh Dickinson. The NCAA announced Wednesday that both men’s and women’s basketball seasons can begin on November 25th. Huggins is confused as to what to expect for a start date for him and his team.
“They [NCAA] say 25 games. All of a sudden we can get back to playing, at least we think we can, 31 like we always do. Now, we are at 27. We have had four different start dates. I do not know,” says Huggins. “It is really sad to say because it is embarrassing.”
Huggins mentioned that he and WVU athletic director Shane Lyons were trying to figure out what each other thought about everything going on. Both said that they were confused with all the different news surrounding college basketball.
“We are going to play 27 games. I can promise you that,” says Huggins.
There have already been games moved around and cancelled. Huggins mentioned that one of WVU’s bigger non-conference games has been moved from its original location.
“As far as I know, our Purdue game is still on. It has been moved from Madison Square Garden to the Barclays Center to now the Mohegan Sun,” says Huggins.
.@CoachHuggs talks with @TonyCaridi, @BradHowe07, and @HunterWvu88bgn about the Battle 4 Atlantis being cancelled, and who has caught his eye early on at team activities. WATCH: https://t.co/wkudfIRZCB pic.twitter.com/xRSFasLzeL
— MetroNews (@WVMetroNews) September 18, 2020
The Mountaineers, along with seven other teams, were supposed to compete in the Battle 4 Atlantis in the Bahamas. There were reports stating that it would be moved to Sioux Falls, South Dakota. The Battle 4 Atlantis twitter page posted a tweet stating that the tournament would be cancelled, and that the reports about it being moved was false.
Huggins did not have any answer as to what will happen with the Battle 4 Atlantis field.
“I do not know if all the teams that were scheduled to play in South Dakota are going to play. There are rumors that some of them are going to play. Jon Rothstein [CBS Sports] mentioned that Duke may do something for social justice and bring teams in and do its own in-season tournament,” says Huggins.
Another key non-conference game for WVU is the game against the Pitt Panthers. The Mountaineers have faced and beat the Panthers the last three seasons. Huggins was asked if Pitt is still on the schedule, and he did not have an answer.
“Good question, we do not know the answer to that either. I think if you were to call me in about a week or so hopefully I could have some answers for you. We do not know. We were having a hard time with the date, and they are being asked by the ACC to hold 3-4 day blocks. We are being asked by the Big 12 to hold 3-4 day blocks. It seems like it wouldn’t be hard to fit a game in. It has been very difficult trying to fit a game in,” says Huggins. “We will play anybody.”
Besides the schedule confusion, Huggins likes what he is seeing so far from this year’s team. He is impressed with how everyone is buying in and continuing to get better.
“They have been very tentative. They have really worked at it. Some spend the majority of their time in the gym working on their game. There really is not really anything to be upset about. It has been really, really good,” says Huggins.
The shooting was not the prettiest for the Mountaineers last season. WVU shot 42% from the field and 29% from the 3-point line. Huggins could not choose one guy for who has shot well during team activities.
“Some days it is Taz [Sherman]. Some days it is Sean [McNeil]. Some days it is JB [Jalen Bridges]. Sometimes it just depends on the day,” says Huggins.