ESPN College Basketball Podcast

  • By Eva Buchman
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  • September 12, 2013 10:46 AM
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West Virginia University men’s basketball coach Bob Huggins was a guest on ESPN’s College Basketball podcast with Andy Katz and Seth Greenberg earlier this week. Here is some of what Huggs had to say:

On optimism for WVU’s second year in the Big 12 …
“I think we’re going to be fine, you know, it was a transition in a lot of ways. Travel obviously was a big transition, and the league has taken some steps to try to ease that burden a little bit on us. I think the officiating was a bit different than it was in the Big East.”

On how officiating is different in the Big 12 than the Big East …
“Just not as physical, and you kind of build a team to play in the Big East. I think the Big 12 is a great league, but it’s a lot faster league. I think most people don’t really have 5s, they have 4-5s. Their 4s are almost three 4s. Everybody can bounce it; everybody plays off the dribble and it’s just a totally different style of play.”

On how tough it was coaching last year for his team to be tough and competitive and to reflect his philosophy …
“I think the biggest thing is you have to control the culture, and we didn’t do a very good job. Certainly our players didn’t do a very good job as well, and we just want the same thing. We weren’t as physical; we didn’t play near as hard, didn’t compete as hard. We’ve missed shots before - we weren’t a very good shooting team – and we’ve had teams that didn’t shoot it well before, but we’ve made up for it in other ways. We were a poor rebounding team. We’ve always been a very good, outstanding rebounding team, and we’ve always played so hard, competed so hard, that we could make up for some of our shortcomings, and we just didn’t do that a year ago.”

On how the conference helped out with the travel schedule this year …
“You named two of the ways they helped us. I think the other ways they helped us is we don’t play near as many 9 p.m. away games. You know, if it’s an 8 p.m. Central time game, it’s a 9 p.m. Eastern game, and so, you know, we’re starting games at 9 p.m. The other thing they did was, we don’t play as many 9 p.m. games at home. We play more 8 p.m. games at home, which is a whole lot better for our fans because our fan base travels from quite a distance to some degree.”

On where he’s going to get leadership from on this year’s team …
“I think Terry (Henderson) has done a really good job with our incoming guys. We have six incoming guys. Eron Harris has done a great job. Eron Harris is the first freshman to lead West Virginia in scoring since, I think, 1972, and the results in ’72 were about the same too, by the way, when a freshman led us in scoring. Juwan Staten I think has really stepped up and tried to help as a leader. Kevin Noreen has done a really good job, so you know, I think we’re right on the back track and to this point at least, I think the incoming guys have certainly bought in to the work ethic that we need to have.”

Is there a guy you feel like can get the team going on a consistent basis …
“Well, Eron Harris led us in scoring a year ago at almost 10 (points) a game, and you’ve got to think he’s going to take a big step forward. I think Seth knows how talented Terry Henderson is and how good he can be. He shot 48 percent from 3 in Big 12 play - that’s pretty good. We’re going to make shots. I think we have more guys capable of making shots, we’re a lot more athletic, we’re longer, we’re just back to I think, being a lot more like we have been rather than what we were a year ago.

Is the Big 12 better than people realize …
“We don’t have any bad teams and you look at a lot of other leagues, and there are teams in there, you look at and say … you become one of those guys who starts looking down the schedule and counting and say well ‘we should win this one, we should win this one…’ You can’t do that in our league. You can’t look down the schedule, and I think the other thing that few people realize - we have six guys in our league - six coaches in our league out of 10 - that have coached in the Final Four, and I think four of them, multiple Final Fours. So every once in a great while you walk out there and you say ‘well, maybe we can pull something over on this team, maybe this team won’t be prepared.’ You can’t do that in our league. I think everybody is tremendously prepared, I think our coaches just do an unbelievable job.

What are your thoughts looking back on the previous era of Big East basketball …
“Well it was terrific. You have a 16-team league and you’re putting nine, 10 teams in the NCAA Tournament, and not just that … I think there were how many consecutive years when we had a team in the Final Four? I mean there’s not another league that can say that. And I think the thing that made it really interesting was it wasn’t the same team all the time. There were a whole bunch of teams that went to the Final Four and had the chance to win a national championship. When you’re talking about maybe seven or eight teams that made a Final Four run over a 10-year period, from the same league, I mean, you’re saying, you know, ‘wow, that league’s pretty good.’ And it was, and I think for the same reason - great coaches in the league, and had great players in the league.”

On getting legendary coaches from the Big East, throwing them in a room and running a camera and just letting those guys talk … How good of a show would that be, and how priceless would that communication be …
“The guy they forgot that ought be in that room is Mike Tranghese. Mike was in there pretty much for the duration of all the people, all the coaches that you talked about. We would have league meetings, and I’m sure he was that way when you were in the league, but Mike would talk about the days of John Thompson, of Coach (Lou) Carnaseca, Paul Evans … so forth and so on and what went on in the meetings and the intensity of the meetings, and just how competitive and how much those guys wanted to win. It wasn’t a whole lot different in the five years that I was in there. There are just different guys and different faces, but great, great coaches. If anybody was going to moderate that deal, I think Mike would be the guy because I think Mike moderated a lot of meetings in his day in the Big East.”


ESPN College Basketball Podcast, Bob Huggins, West Virginia Mountaineers, WVU, Big 12 men's basketball

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