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Tag:Bob Huggins
Posted on: March 7, 2012 4:12 pm
Edited on: March 7, 2012 5:23 pm

WVU blows lead, is officially out of the Big East

Huggins' team led most of the way, but after Kevin Jones didn't get shots near the end, UConn stole it. (US Presswire)

By Matt Norlander

NEW YORK — West Virginia’s Big East membership ends with a whimper and an ill-attempted fall-away shot by Paul Williamson.



Meanwhile, UConn Big East tournament storyline gets another injection and dollop of hype thanks to the Mountaineers’ inability to close out a 63-54 lead with 3:40 to go during Wednesday afternoon’s conference quarterfinal at Madison Square Garden. The Mountaineers, a .500 team in the Big East this season that hasn’t beaten a surefire NCAA tournament club since Jan. 21 (Cincinnati), made things more complicated upon their swift exit out of the league.

So, why was Williamson in the game, and why was he even shooting the ball with seconds ticking away in overtime? The rarely used man was inserted after the best beard in college basketball and the man attached to it, Deniz Kilicli, fouled out with 4:20 to go in regulation. Huggins opted to use a few different lineups once Kilicli was unavailable. Trailing 71-67, the entertaining, gruff coach had seen enough of his young team and its unreliable guards give the game away. So up went Williamson’s shot on a play Huggins refrained from expounding upon afterward. The ball met the side of the backboard, and it was in that moment that many inside the Garden looked at each other and asked, “Who is that?”

With the shot failing, it signaled West Virginia’s biggest problem and the only reason that it lost this game. Where was Kevin Jones? He’s the guy Bob Huggins is ticked off about not winning the league’s Player of the Year award (Jones came in second to Marquette’s Jae Crowder). Because Jones was hounded by future NBA lottery pick Andre Drummond — a bright moment for the UConn freshman in a game that saw him miss a field goal as if he was putting from 30 feet out — the young Mountaineers got tunnel vision and backed their way into overtime against No. 9 UConn.

Once in overtime, West Virginia didn’t make a field goal. Oh-for-11. The team couldn’t find Jones and Jones couldn’t get open. He didn’t attempt a shot in the final 7:15 of regulation.

“I feel a little bit of disbelief, disappointment,” Jones said. “We didn’t make the correct decisions at the end. I think it was a little bit that they had Andre Drummond on me. Some of my teammates weren’t able to find me. UConn made the correct plays at the end of the game.”

Was this an emotional ending for Huggins? Uh, no, at least not outwardly. When one reporter addressed him and the players in the postgame press conference, Huggins was either lost in the riveting stat sheet or just flat out ignoring the question. He lifted his head up when the room was silent after the question was completed, as if he’d been called on in class and got caught daydreaming.

Jones answer the question. Eventually, Huggins did talk when another was asked.

“It’s been a good run,” he said of West Virginia’s 17-year stay in the Big East. “We’ve enjoyed it — most of it, anyway. There’s nothing like coming to the Garden to play in the tournament.”

That was all Huggins had to say about it. And as for Williamson’s involvement, I asked him how the play broke down. He responded, “He made a hard shot.”

Made? What? I don’t even know. Maybe he misheard. What's evident now and has been the case for most of this season and the majority of his career: Huggins is ticked. He should be, because this team’s been inconsistent and a frustrating one for him to coach this season. If not for Jones, WVU isn’t even in the NIT.

“He (Jones) was playing with a bunch of freshman that don’t have any idea what the hell they’re doing,” Huggins said. “And they don’t mean to, but to do what this guy’s done … with seven freshmen and a junior college transfer who didn’t play … we couldn’t ask him [and senior Truck Bryant] to do any more. You hope that your freshmen get better and start to understand a little bit better. You can’t give them the ball at the end and knowing full well it’s hard to guard him at the foul line.”

As for the mandatory are-they-in question, I think WVU is headed to the First Four, or just barely dodge it with an 11 seed. They've got enough inventory to clear the 10-or-so teams fighting to squeeze in. Here is Huggins’ defense of WVU's resume:

 “We’ve played more games against top 100 than anybody in the country. We’ve played more games against top 50 teams. We’ve done more things than they’ve asked us to do, except win a couple of games,” Huggins said.

It's that last part that always catches up with teams.

Posted on: February 13, 2012 3:24 pm
Edited on: February 13, 2012 3:37 pm

Huggins with rare NIT appearance? Could happen

By Jeff Goodman

The NCAA tournament without Huggs. It doesn't happen often.

West Virginia coach Bob Huggins took his Cincinnati team to the NCAA tournament in each of his final 14 seasons and has taken the Mountaineers to the Big Dance in each of his four years (including a Final Four appearance) with his alma mater. But after losing five of his last six games -- including three straight in Morgantown -- Huggins is in jeopardy of being NIT-bound. 

The only time that's happened in the last two decades was his first season at Kansas State in 2006, when he took over a team that wasn't all that talented and wound up going to the NIT. 

The talent level has fallen in Morgantown of late. That's one of the reasons why assistant Billy Hahn was demoted and is now off the road. 

This team has a stud in Kevin Jones. He's carried this team all year long, averaging 20.6 points and 11.2 rebounds per game. Deniz Kilicli is a solid piece, but that's about it -- and when Truck Bryant is your No. 2 scoring option, let's face it: You're in trouble. Bryant has had some terrific games, but he's also capable -- and has done so plenty of times -- of shooting West Virginia out of the game. 

The Mountaineers were a lock for the NCAA tourney a month ago, but things can change fast. Now they have fallen to 16-10 overall and a game below the .500 mark in Big East play. The losing skid began with a road loss at St. John's, but the key moment may have been the non-goaltending call that would have sent the game to overtime at the Carrier Dome against Syracuse. What followed was a loss at home to Pittsburgh, a victory at Providence and two more home setbacks against Notre Dame and Louisville. 

The young guards have shown promise, but freshman Jabarie Hinds wasn't ready to be a 30-minute-a-game-guy. Fellow frosh Gary Browne should be playing 10 minutes per contest, not 25. 

The Mountaineers are likely on the right side of The Bubble - for now. 

But now, after failing to protect its home court, it's time to take to the road and a hungry, resurgent Pittsburgh team awaits -- and then comes Notre Dame in South Bend. That could leave Huggs, one of the nation's top coaches, at 6-9 in Big East play with three winnable games left (Marquette and DePaul at home and at South Florida). 

Three games that West Virginia must win for Huggins to do what he have done as well as just about anyone over the years: Reach the Big Dance. 

Category: NCAAB
Posted on: February 1, 2012 3:07 pm
Edited on: February 1, 2012 4:29 pm

Huggins emotional when telling Spoonhour stories

Charlie Spoonhour. (AP)

By Jeff Goodman

Bob Huggins called him his big brother. 

Charlie Spoonhour died this morning at the age of 72. Huggins was about as close with Spoon since their days when they went up against one another in the Great Midwest. 

"I've had better days," Huggins said. "He hadn't been well for a long time. It hadn't been easy for him of late." 

Spoonhour received a lung transplant in 2010 after being diagnosed with idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis

Spoonhour started his head coaching career in the junior college ranks, then took over at Southwest Missouri State before going to Saint Louis (1992-99) and UNLV (2001-04). 

"When we played Saint Louis before he got there, there were about 2,000 people in the stands," Huggins recalled. "One time I bet they had 20,000 or however many they could get in that place. People were running around with these huge spoons. It was like a Sweet 16 or Elite Eight atmosphere." 

His final record was 373-202 in 19 seasons. 

Huggins said he and Spoon talked just about every other day. 

"They'll never be another Spoon," Huggins said. "His charisma, the persona he had. He had an unbelievable magnetism about him. People always wanted to be around him." 

Huggins shared a few stories about Spoonhour. 

- The pair were playing in the Great Midwest tournament. Huggins in his room set to play DePaul and Joey Meyer and Saint Louis was ready to face Dayton and the phone rang. "Junior, it's my turn to host. I'm one floor above you. Come up here. If you don't know what Joey's going to run by now, you're not very smart. We sat upstairs, talked and laughed." Both teams advanced. Huggins then faced regular-season champion Memphis while Spoonhour and Saint Louis had a matchup with Marquette. The phone rang. "Junior, I believe it's your turn. He came to my room and we talked, told stories and laughed." Both teams won and then were set to play each other in the championship game. "The phone rang. "Junior, I'm a man of my word. It's my turn." Huggins walked in and Spoonhour's assistants -- who were watching film of Cincinnati - cut the film off. "Spoonhour just started laughing," Huggins recalled. "He was going to fire all those assistants. He knew what we ran. He didn't care." Later that afternoon, Spoonhour missed his pre-game meal and showed up at the doorway of Cincinnati's pre-game team meal. "He ate with all of our guys," Huggins said. "He actually ate pre-game with us." Huggins and Cincinnati wound up winning the game. 

- He said there was no one better at entertaining people at roasts than Spoonhour. "We did so many of them together," Huggins recalled. "So many guys get up there and aren't funny. Guys got up there with canned stuff, but his was just off the top of his head. People would always walk away saying they wished he would talk forever, He was that funny." 

- Huggins said Spoonhour called him one day, after Huggins had suffered a heart attack, and asked him what it was like. "I told him to get into the doctor and have it checked out. He was in the hospital and I remember him calling me and telling me he was going to retire in about an hour."

"He had a great appreciation for the professional and the people in the profession," Huggins said. "He was an incredible guy and one hell of a ball coach." 

Spoonhour is survived by his wife, Vicki, and two sons, Jay and Stephen. 

Posted on: November 9, 2011 2:10 pm
Edited on: November 9, 2011 2:17 pm

Huggins West Virginia group young & inexperienced

By Jeff Goodman

Bob Huggins isn't known for his patience.

But he'll need it this season.

The West Virginia coach has watched his team get taken care of by Xavier in a scrimmage and then lose to Northern Kentucky in an exhibition.

"We've got young guys," Huggins told on Wednesday. "It's going to be a while, but we've got to find a way to win while they get better."

Just three of Huggins' top 11 players have played a single minute in the D-1 ranks.

Kevin Jones, Truck Bryant and Deniz Kilicli.

Freshmen Jabarie Hinds and Gary Browne will vie for the starting point guard duties. Freshmen Keaton Miles and Tommie McCune are battling it out for the final starting position on the wing.

The first two big men off the bench will likely be junior college forward Dominique Rutledge and redshirt freshman Kevin Noreen.

"I think we'll be fine," Huggins said.

And when asked whether his Mountaineers will take their lumps early?

"I hope not," he responded.

It's tough to question Huggins with his track record. He has made the NCAA tournament 18 of the last 19 years.

Posted on: November 7, 2011 2:27 pm
Edited on: November 7, 2011 2:44 pm

Boeheim: Huggins has best shot of catching K

By Jeff Goodman

Seth Davis' show "Courtside" will have a special preseason edition tonight on CBS Sports Network at 9 p.m. ET.

Gary Parrish, Mike DeCourcy, Jon Rothstein, Jim O'Connell and myself were panelists for the show - and one of the numerous topics we discuss is Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski and whether anyone can catch him once he breaks Bob Knight's record of 902 and becomes the all-time winningest men's coach in Division 1.

Jim Boeheim is just 44 wins behind Coach K, but is about 2 1/2 years older than Krzyzewski - who enters the season with 900 career victories.

I posed the question to Boeheim, who turns 67 later this month, on Monday that maybe he'd have a shot - if K retires in the next few years and Boeheim sticks in out a few years beyond K.

"He's not returning anytime soon," Boeheim said. "I think Mike will coach another 10 years. I wouldn't be surprised at all."

The guy who Boeheim thinks would have a shot - if he took care of himself from a health-standpoint?

West Virginia's Bob Huggins.

"He's got a lot of wins - and he'll try and coach forever," Boeheim said. "He's about the only one out there who could possibly do it."

But even if the 58-year-old Huggins stays healthy, it's a stretch.

He has 691 career victories. Let's say he goes 12 more years (until he's 71) and averages about 25 wins per year (which is what he's averaged in his four years at West Virginia).

That would put him just shy of 1,000 victories.

Coach K has 900 right now and has been averaging about 29 wins per year - and he'll likely eclipse to the 1,000-win mark in 2014-15.

Photo: AP
Posted on: October 25, 2011 3:52 pm

Frank Martin ecstatic with West Va. to Big 12

By Jeff Goodman

If the Big 12 does add West Virginia - as appears to be the case from all accounts - Kansas State coach Frank Martin is ecstatic.

Not necessarily because it'll bring his mentor of sorts, Mountaineers coach Bob Huggins, to the league.

"It's a Hall of Fame coach who went to the Final Four a couple years ago," Martin told "If it does happen, it's awesome. Our league instantly gets better."

Martin said he spoke to Huggins on Monday afternoon and the two spoke exclusively about basketball.

"I don't think he had any idea this was coming," Martin said of the reports that have West Virginia leaving the Big East.

Martin said his preference is for the league to be at a dozen teams, but he reiterated that he has complete confidence in the leadership of the Big 12 - whatever direction it chooses to go.

"I have never waffled on the decisions that have been made," Martin said. "I know people on the outside want to complain that we don't have stability, but Kansas State is in a better place than it was five years ago because of the Big 12."

"West Virginia's football program is always in the top of the Big East," he added. "It's big-time football and we don't even have to talk about it basketball-wise."

The addition of West Virginia and TCU would replace outgoing Texas A&M and Missouri - which appears set to depart for the SEC.

"People talk about us being vulnerable," Martin said. "But look at who we are adding."
Posted on: June 15, 2011 10:32 am
Edited on: June 15, 2011 10:58 am

Bob Huggins raises huge funds for cancer research

By Matt Norlander

The Norma Mae Huggins Cancer Research Fund will probably never be the primary facet of Bob Huggins' legacy, but it should be a larger part of it.

The West Virginia coach has hosted three roasts in the past year -- all at his expense -- in an effort to raise money for the cancer-fighting operation in his mother's name. Norma Mae Huggins died in 2003 from colon cancer. In the past nine months, the coach and the people of West Virginia have helped raise nearly $500,000 to fund research toward fighting the disease.

"The great thing is that when we do these things, most of the money is matched by the state (through the West Virginia Research Trust Fund, a $35 million Legislature-approved funding vehicle available through 2015 to WVU)," Huggins said. "We know we have a long way to go.

"We need to have enough money to be able to really do something. I've been involved with a lot of charities in my coaching career, but this is a special deal, and not just because of my mom.

So kudos are in order to the state of West Virginia for being able to step in stride with the money-raising efforts. Can you imagine if even only 10 more coaches did this sort of thing, and got state-funded help to match?

According to the Charleston Daily Mail, before Huggins came on board last year to help the money raising efforts, the fund was floating in the $35,000 range. What a difference a coach can make. It's not just speaking engagements and these dinners/roasts that have helped the cause. The website sells a slew of WVU-related items, the proceeds of which go toward the fund.

More roasts and dinners are planned for the future, as Huggins said he's not likely to slow down until the Norma Mae Huggins Cancer Research Fund quadruples its current number, meaning $2 million is the minimum benchmark for Huggins and his team.

Photo: AP
Category: NCAAB
Posted on: February 24, 2011 4:46 pm

Pitt and WVU make Backyard Brawl a hoops thing

Posted by Eric Angevine

West Virginia @ Pitt, 9:00 p.m, ESPN

The Backyard Brawl is one of my all-time favorite college sports rivalries. Pittsburgh and Morgantown are so close to one another geographically, but they couldn't be farther apart in the way they approach these games. At least, that's the way it is in football. With just one meeting per year on the gridiron, and overlapping recruiting grounds in the coal country, the football version of the rivalry will always be more intense.

However, I interviewed John Antonik, author of a book on WVU sports history, a while back, and he told me that the home-and-home series for hoops has had its moments as well.

"You can go back to the late '60s," Antonik said, "and there would be a West Virginia guy setting up at the free throw line and a Pitt fan would throw a dead fish on the court. There has always been great tension in that rivalry, even when the teams were just OK or the players were unknowns."

"Just OK" and "unknowns" are not words we'd use to describe this rivalry in recent seasons, and that's a good thing. Despite an 8-6 mark, WVU is coming off a huge win over Notre Dame, while Pitt is trying to shrug off a setback to St. John's at Madison Square Garden from Saturday. A win in this game won't get Bob Huggins and the Mountaineers much closer to the top of the league, but it would definitely signal the beginning of a hot streak coming along at just the right time. Such a win seems unlikely, but so did the upset of the Irish.

In essence, you just can't bet against Huggy Bear, especially in a rivalry game. Watching him battle Jamie Dixon in a coaching throwdown is bound to be entertaining, no matter which team comes out ahead.
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