March 29, 2023 10:48 pm

West Virginia University men’s basketball coach Bob Huggins can nonetheless be helpful in spite of his age.

MORGANTOWN — It was a query that had to be asked, the a single that came forward from the media in the course of Bob Huggins’ post-game press conference on Thursday, moments soon after his West Virginia group had taken a dagger to the heart in the kind of a 67-65 loss to Maryland in the opening round of the NCAA Tournament.

As critical as it was to ask it, it was rhetorical, for everyone who had watched Huggins coach by means of this season knew the answer … and as Huggins only can, he supplied it up in such a way that it had the world-wide-web buzzing for significantly of the evening.

“Might be early for this query, Coach,” the questioner started, which was a giveaway that he knew the query may well be an sincere a single, the timing would be superior served for later.

“But just with your length of time in this company, what have you believed about your future and how lengthy you want to hold on undertaking this?”

I suspect you know what’s coming. I’m specific the questioner knew what was coming … and Huggins didn’t disappoint.

“You know the only factor I’ve believed about in the final what ever month and a half was acquiring these guys to a point exactly where they could come right here,” Huggins started.

He wasn’t undertaking the Ali Shuffle right here. He wasn’t purchasing time to assume up an answer.

He was shooting straight. His objective was to go to the NCAAs in a year when it appeared they wouldn’t make it. Not for him, but for his players.

“Erik (Stevenson) for instance had never ever played in an NCAA Tournament. We want to get these guys to an NCAA Tournament and practical experience the NCAA Tournament,” he mentioned.

He is, usually has been, a players coach.

“Unfortunately,” Huggins went on. “Ours is not going to be quite lengthy, but at least he got to play in a single.”

A single and carried out. It wasn’t satisfying, But, as they say, it is what it is.

“I do not know. It is like something else, you know. You possibly got folks who get pleasure from reading what you create, and there’s folks who say I wouldn’t study a damn factor he writes,” Huggins continued, bringing it down to a level even us writers can comprehend and really feel.

“I got the identical scenario going on. I got folks who assume I need to remain on for very a though, and there’s folks possibly considering I ought to pack it in and let some young kid come in and screw it up.”

Now that is not a yes or a no, but everyone who knows Huggins knows his quite existence is constructed upon becoming a coach.

Yes, he likes to fish … but he could pull all the bass out of a river that it has to give up and it wouldn’t satisfy him like a single practice, like matching wits with a guy down on the other finish of the court, like a day with his group.

He was a fitness center rat developing up. You may well even contact him a son of a …. nicely, coach, for the reason that that is what he is.

His buddies are fellow coaches. Invest a single evening with them listening to tales told and the fellowship shared and you know how it had to be when Sir Lancelot and the knights gathered about King Arthur’s Round Table.

Bob Huggins was a competitor as a player and right now, at 69, he might have lost a step on the court, but he remains respected as a coach.

Yes, the query wasn’t genuinely about his age, but about the benefits he has gotten lately, and that is genuine to appear at.

His Mountaineers have won 20 or much more games only when in the final 5 years. His general record more than that time is 90-73 though his Massive 12 record is 35-44. The prior 5 years ahead of that he went 122-55 though in the Massive 12 WVU went 56-39.

The query remains is Huggins slipping or is that a reflection on the improvement from the other conference teams.

I think it is much more the latter.

The strange aspect of speaking about regardless of whether it is time for Huggins to retire is that he just authored a single of his ideal coaching jobs ever.

This group was not as talented as his Final 4 teams right here or at Cincinnati. This was a project, a group bought from IKEA that had to be place collectively.

Can Huggins nonetheless coach? Should really Huggins hold on coaching?

Ask Kedrian Johnson, who saw him develop year by year below Huggins. A year ago, it is forgotten now, Johnson averaged five.three points a game and had much more turnovers than assists. This year, he doubled his scoring typical, had 102 assists to 74 turnovers and created it his group on the floor.

Ask Erik Stevenson, who grew all through the season till he closed it out with the ideal play of his profession, play exactly where he didn’t act like he had “a screw loose,” as he has described himself all through his profession.

Yes, the final game was a tricky a single with just nine points, but the credit for that has to go to the defense Maryland place forth.

And speaking about coaching, do you assume it was quick for Huggins to bench his top scorer and the player most probably to go off on a scoring binge in the second half, providing him time to attempt and pull himself collectively for a single late run at Maryland?

It didn’t function but it took a man prepared to face the music for creating such a bold move.

The inference from the query was that perhaps Huggins was losing it for the reason that he was aging.

That surely is not the case.

Possibly it was Iona coach Rick Pitino, 70 and a Hall of Fame coach, who summed it up for Huggins when he mentioned on Thursday:

“I’d like to coach a different ten years.”

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