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Give Bob Huggins some credit. Sure he’s taken two teams to the Final Four and his 670 career victories rank fourth among all active coaches, but no one ever thought he could grow Flowers on wood. But surprise, surprise, he’s done it.
One of the first things Huggins did upon his hiring in April of 2007 was make a home visit to a then-high school senior who had already signed to play at West Virginia under former coach John Beilein. Rather than say thanks but no thanks to a player recruited for an entirely different style of play, Huggins convinced John Flowers and his family that WVU was still the place for him.
In the three years that have passed, Flowers has been many things in the Mountaineer program: class clown; athletic rebounder; so-so free throw shooter; game winning 3-point specialist; head-strong; Irish jig dancer. Well now as he enters his final season in Morgantown, get ready to add a few more titles to Flowers’ bouquet of accomplishments … such things as leader, scorer and consistent contributor.
As Huggins sat and watched Flowers drain free throw after free throw during a recent practice, he confidently said Flowers has positioned himself to have a great senior season. John has morphed from the kid who would let coaching instruction go in one ear and out the other to the kid who gobbles up every word of advice and applies it on the floor.
And Flowers isn’t just listening, he’s also asking all the right questions. Perhaps for the first time in his career he has the complete confidence of the coaching staff and his teammates. It’s great news for a Mountaineer team searching to find points and rebounds to offset the losses of DaSean Butler, Devin Ebanks and Wellington Smith from last year’s 31-7 team. ***
Here are a few other hoop tidbits as the Mountaineers get ready for what will be a very fast start to the season …
- Joe Mazulla tells me he’s in the best physical shape of his career. The senior guard will play at lighter weight this season. One WVU assistant coach told me Mazulla’s cardiovascular conditioning is now at a point that he never gets tired.
- Did you realize the basketball team will have 25 percent of its regular season schedule completed by the time the Mountaineer football team plays its final regular season game on Dec. 4 against Rutgers? The Mountaineers are scheduled to play 32 regular season games - their contest on Saturday, Dec. 4 at Miami will be their eighth game of the season.
- One Mountaineer player has told me the only person that can stop Deniz “The Istanbul” Kilicli from scoring is Deniz himself. That same player said Kilicli could average 20 points per game this year if he stays out of foul trouble.
- I spoke with DaSean Butler earlier this week. Da said he will be heading to Morgantown soon to watch the football and basketball teams play. Butler, who continues to recover from a second knee surgery, could play in the NBA Developmental League later this season as he tries to prepare himself for another shot with an NBA team.
Let’s hope Da’Sean can get that knee right and hook up with a team in the not-so-distant future.
If you can’t make it to tonight’s game, you can watch a live video stream of the UNC Pembroke game on MountaineerTV.com