Welcome to Huggstown
Standing at the podium addressing close to a thousand West Virginia fans sprinkled in with a sizable contingent of reporters on April 6, 2007, Bob Huggins had the look of a man who has won close to 600 college basketball games during his career.
He possesses a certain aura or presence about him that only a few others have. John Thompson had it whenever he walked into an arena. Jim Boeheim, Rick Pitino and Jim Calhoun have it. You find yourself looking at them as much as you do listening to what they have to say.
It was difficult trying to separate both after Huggins was introduced by WVU Director of Athletics Ed Pastilong as the school’s 21st men’s basketball coach. Huggins speaks in almost a whisper at times but the sheer power of his words and the confidence he exudes is unmistakable.
“We’re going to win and I think that’s what everybody wants to do. We’re going to win and we’re going to win big,” he said.
Huggins has assembled a powerhouse coaching staff to help meet that objective. Billy Hahn helped construct Maryland’s national championship team in 2002. Larry Harrison helped build big-time programs at Cincinnati and DePaul. Erik Martin has been with Huggins for five years as a player and a coach after also playing professionally.
These four men have one simple objective: bring a national title to Morgantown.
Huggs by the Numbers
1 NCAA Final Four Appearance
3 NCAA Elite Eight Appearances
5 Times National Coach of the Year
6 NBA First-Round Picks
7 Top 10 Final Poll Rankings
9 NCAA All-Americans
14 NBA Draft Picks
13 Conference Championships
14 Straight NCAA Appearances
17 Total NCAA Appearances
22 Postseason Appearances
23 20-Win Seasons
50 All-Conference Players
642 Career Victories
Tradition of Champions
After 99 seasons of competition and more than 1,500 victories, West Virginia boasts as rich a basketball tradition as any school in the nation.
West Virginia's memorable 2004-05 run to the Elite Eight, 2005-06 appearance in the Sweet 16, 2007 NIT title and another Sweet 16 appearnace in 2008 are really just the latest chapters in 104 years of basketball history filled with success.
Beginning basketball in 1904, West Virginia finally arrived at the top in 1942 with a winning performance in the National Invitation Tournament.
Referred to as the first "Golden Era" in Mountaineer basketball, the 1950s was one of West Virginia's most prosperous decades. The Mountaineers compiled a record of 218-68, won six Southern Conference titles, competed in six NCAA tournaments, completed the 1958 regular season as the nation's top-ranked team and finished as the NCAA national runner-up in 1959.
With the arrival of Jerry West, West Virginia enhanced that success with three more conference titles, NCAA trips and the 1959 finish as national runners-up. WVU lost a heartbreaker to California, 71-70, in the title game. The year before, the Mountaineers sported a 23-1 regular season record, earning the top ranking in the polls before being upset in the first round of the NCAAs.
West, considered by most to be one of the greatest basketball players ever, became WVU's all-time scoring leader with 2,309 points. He also set the standard with 1,240 career rebounds.
With the departure of Coach Fred Schaus and West to the professional ranks in 1960, George King took charge. King's star was All-America guard Rod Thorn, and WVU made three more NCAA tournament trips as Southern Conference champs. Thorn poured in 1,785 career points and earned All-American and Southern Conference player of the year honors.
In 1978, another former cager returned -- Gale Catlett -- along with soaring fortunes in Morgantown. He ushered in the second "Golden Era" of Mountaineer basketball and has recorded 11 20-win seasons, while reestablishing the dominance of the home court at West Virginia.
Catlett engineered 16 postseason appearances, nine consecutive during the 80s. His teams made the NCAA tournament eight times, earned two Atlantic 10 tournament championships, three A-10 regular season titles and a 1981 NIT Final Four berth.
John Beilein continued West Virginia’s great tradition in 2003, leading WVU to back-to-back NCAA tournament appearances in 2005 and 2006 and the NIT title in 2007.
Alumnus Bob Huggins is now at the helm, where he led West Virginia to a 26-11 record in 2008 and the school's third Sweet 16 appearance in the last four years.
Roll Out the Carpet!
One of college basketball’s great traditions was introduced by Fred Schaus at West Virginia University in 1955. It was during that time that Schaus and Mountaineer supporter Alex Mumford came up with the idea of rolling out an elaborate gold and blue carpet for the Mountaineers to run out on during pregame warm-ups. In addition, Mountaineer players warmed up with a special gold and blue painted basketball.
West Virginia University continued this tradition during the George King era until it was interrupted in the late 1960s. Former Mountaineer player Gale Catlett reintroduced the carpet when he returned to West Virginia in 1978, and it has since become the highlight of pregame introductions at the WVU Coliseum.
The Big East is Big-Time Basketball
With its membership of 16 teams, the BIG EAST conference is the largest Division I conference in the nation. The newest additions are: Cincinnati, DePaul, Louisville, Marquette and South Florida.
Connecticut, Syracuse, Louisville, Marquette and Georgetown have all appeared in the Final Four during the last six years. West Virginia narrowly missed reaching the Final Four in 2005.
Connecticut won the national championship in 1999 and 2004. Syracuse took the crown in 2003.
Fifteen of the 16 BIG EAST members have made the Final Four at least one time in their histories.
Four coaches – Bob Huggins, Jim Calhoun, Joe Boeheim and Rick Pitino – rank in the top 25 nationally among active coaches in victories.
In NCAA play over the last five seasons, the BIG EAST has the most victories and the best record of any Division I conference.
One of the BIG EAST conference’s finest basketball arenas, the WVU Coliseum seats 14,000 and provides an electric atmosphere for college basketball.
Built in 1969 at a cost of $10.4 million and open for competition in 1970, the WVU Coliseum also serves as home to the WVU School of Physical Education and much of the Department of Intercollegiate Athletics.
The domed arena has been the home of WVU basketball for more than a quarter-century, but its many uses include commencement, concerts, conferences, floor shows and a host of educational and athletic events.
Most recently, the Coliseum received a contemporary upgrade which included renovations to the locker rooms, construction of a players’ lounge and team video theater, expansion of the strength and conditioning center and training and equipment rooms as well as construction of a club seating area in the main arena, complete with private space for concessions, hospitality areas and rest rooms under the lower level seats. A new state-of-the-art academic center was just finished in September 2007 and a modern video board will be unveiled for the 2008-09 season.
The WVU Department of Intercollegiate Athletics is committed to the promotion of the academic achievement of student-athletes as well as their athletic accomplishment and their personal and career development.
In support of this position, West Virginia University offers a variety of services and programs to help student-athletes maximize their academic potential.
Academics are at the forefront of the success enjoyed by the Mountaineer basketball program, because Athletic Director Ed Pastilong and Coach Bob Huggins have made academics a priority. A two-time Academic All-American, Huggins graduated from West Virginia magna cum laude in 1977 and received his master’s in health administration from WVU in 1978.
Seven basketball players were named to the BIG EAST all-academic team in 2007, and the Mountaineers’ graduation rate exceeds that of the general student body. Thirteen members of the 2006-07 team earned a place on the Athletic Director’s Academic Honor Roll with a 3.0 semester grade-point average.
From 2004-07, every single Mountaineer basketball senior has earned his degree: Frank Young and Rob Summers in 2007, Patrick Beilein, J.D. Collins, Mike Gansey, Johannes Herber and Kevin Pittsnogle in 2006 and D’or Fischer, Tyrone Sally and Duriel Price in 2005.
Athletic Academic Performance Center
Just opened in October was the brand new $1.3 million Athletic Academic Performance Center in the WVU Coliseum. The 8,000-square-foot Academic Center is six times larger than the previous study space. It provides individual and group study areas as well as a state-of-the-art computer lab.
The study center provides a quiet atmosphere where tutors in any subject, academic counseling and one-on-one help are available for students who need it. There’s also room for meetings, group sessions and study halls. Athletes can use the study centers between classes or after practice in the evenings, with flexible hours tailored to make the most of a student-athlete's limited time.
Winning and hard work are important to the West Virginia men’s basketball team. But becoming successful and positive role models on and off the court is just as significant to them. The Mountaineers give back to the Morgantown and surrounding communities every chance they get.
It might be a blood drive or reading to school kids or visiting hospitals or autographing basketballs for a charity auction. In fact, several basketball players have served as keynote speakers for the Special Olympics summer games in Morgantown.
Players can also be found assisting with youth team presentations, being Special Olympic buddies and volunteering at handicap camps.
Athletic excellence and strength and conditioning go hand-in-hand at West Virginia University. Long regarded as one of the nation’s finest strength programs, the strength and conditioning coaches at WVU ensure that all student-athletes are kept at the peak of their total fitness capabilities.
To keep athletes in tip-top condition, West Virginia offers a variety of training areas and a vast array of strength programs.
Equipped with excellent amenities and staffed by some of the finest strength coaches in the nation, athletes who come to West Virginia know that they are in good hands when it comes to fitness.