Bob Huggins News Conference


By John Antonik for WVUsports.com
September 30, 2013 03:11 PM




MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – West Virginia University men’s basketball coach Bob Huggins addressed the media Monday before the start of preseason practice:

On who is eligible to practice/play …

Everybody is eligible to practice except for Elijah (Macon). It’s kind of a moot point because of his wrist though. Also, he is unable to run now because he hurt his toe. As of right now (Jonathan Holton) is not eligible to play, but he is available to practice. We will have a final answer on that by the end of the week.

On if having players ineligible affects practice …

At this point in the season I don’t think it makes a whole lot of difference. When we get closer to the season it makes a big difference.

On if Elijah Macon will play this year …

I would think it is leaning more that way (he will not play) than the other

On players’ development since last season …

(Eron Harris), Terry (Henderson, and Gary (Browne) all played overseas this offseason on a touring team. The biggest difference with those guys is their physical strength, that and their demeanor. They’re so much more confident. They know what they’re doing and what’s expected of them. They aren’t running around wondering what they are supposed to do. And they are helping the younger guys.

On the things he’s done following the grind at the end of last season …

I haven’t really done anything, except I spent a couple weeks with my family, which I haven’t done in a while. Other than that I haven’t really gotten away this offseason, which is less than usual. Usually I can sneak out and get a little bit of fishing in, but I did very little of that this summer.

On how he feels after last year and moving on …

What happened last year has never happened to me. I’ve never not been able to get guys to play how I wanted them to. Obviously we had some deficiencies as well. We were going into a league with a completely different style of play in terms of style, officiating, travel and everything else. Quite frankly, we weren’t very prepared for it.

On certain things the team has focused on over the summer to get better …

I think the biggest thing is when you play an 18-game league schedule, they would admit it’s an entirely different league. Also with style there’s more emphasis on spread offenses, on penetrate and pitch, and on pick and roll. When we were in the Big East, that’s what Louisville did, but not a whole lot of other people did that. Maybe Villanova a little bit but not that much. There weren’t many teams in the Big East that would give the 4-guy the ball and have him break people down and make decisions with the ball. That happened frequently in the Big 12. Plus it wasn’t as physical.

On finding his own 4 to do that in the Big 12 …

Well we have to figure out how to stop them. As bad as we were last year, the number of games that we should’ve and could’ve won were numerous. We had a chance to win a lot more games. We didn’t guard much. I think style of play had something to do with it, but we didn’t guard teams with the resolve that we have had in the past.

On if any of his basic philosophies have change …

I don’t know if this will happen with us, but (back in the Big East) you go recruit a guy like Deniz (Kilici) because everyone in the Big East had one. When we were really good, it was because Wellington Smith could drag people away from the basket. I think the one thing we’ve made a conscious effort to do is recruit people who can make shots. They’re very capable to make shots. Rémi (Dibo) can step out and make shots. Nathan (Adrian) can step out and make shots. He may not be able to stretch it out into 3, but Devin Williams can make shots. Brandon (Watkins) can step out and make shots. And I think Kevin Noreen has figured out that he needs to be a more consistent perimeter shooter and he’s worked very hard on that.

On if the players he’s recruited can also be better on the defensive side of the ball …

That remains to be seen. I can’t positively tell you. Two hours a week is hard to judge. I think their demeanor is so much more different. Their enthusiasm is a lot better. I think what we had and what we lacked was having guys who took it to heart to not waste days. They understood the importance of coming in and getting better. I’ve never really been one of those guys that thought it was bad chemistry, because the players either hated me or were scared to death of me, so they were all on the same page. You can look at a team like Kansas State, who had trouble scoring points at times, but they guarded well and won close games, and ended up tying for a conference championship.

On the returners mixing with the new recruits …

A year ago we didn’t pass the ball well. I’ve tried to make changes. But the way we play is that you can use your strengths. Joe Mazzula couldn’t shoot, but he could score. We had a bunch of guys last year who thought that they could do some things better than others, and we tried that for while and that obviously didn’t work. I just think we need to go back and continue doing what we have been for a long time.

On how he thinks the Big 12 will rank in conferences …

I really don’t know. I think Marcus Smart is one of the best guards I’ve ever coached against since Jason Kidd. I thought he would’ve been taken first overall had he come out for the draft. But I really don’t know. There have been so many changes. I think people think the ACC is a lot better, but that remains to be seen.

On what he’s seen from the newcomers …

They can make shots, and they are very capable of making shots. We made a conscious effort to bring those guys in who could make shots.

On if he sees a benefit in starting practice earlier in the year …

Today’s our first day, so I really don’t know. Ask me again in a few weeks. I think what it does is it gives you a lot more latitude in your season. We are going three days on, one off now. We’ve pretty much gone six days a week. Mentally I hope we are able to concentrate a lot better. I understand that it gets tough towards the end though.

On running the motion with no set point guard …

It really doesn’t matter who is there. We played Da’Sean Butler at point guard; we played Devin Ebanks at point guard. That was the strength of our team. The strength of the offense is that you can do what you can do. Last year we had guys who were hell-bent on doing things that they couldn’t do. The worst part is that we put in guys that tried to do the same. I think this year, though, our guys are a lot better at doing the things they can, and not doing the things that they can’t.

On whether Terry Henderson and Eron Harris will be on the court together or rotate …

I don’t think it matters. We’ve basically got four guys for three spots. We could probably play Nathan and Remi there but I really don’t know. There’s always some years where you worry about depth, but I think you can coach guys more. Sometimes you can coach too many guys, but if you only have so many guys, you can focus on them. When I was at Cincinnati and we won 31 games, I didn’t really have a backup point guard. Those players learn though, they foul less too. Also players’ roles change as they get better.

On Kevin Noreen being the main front line guy …

I think he knows what he’s doing. He’s been very dependable, but he has to stay out of foul trouble.

On Gary Browne playing a different role this season …

I think Gary would be the first person to tell you that he had a terrible year. We are very appreciative of that with Gary. We had other guys who were blaming other people, when their stats were showing that they were just bad, there were guys coming in who should have been apologizing for how bad they played when, instead, they were blaming other players. Gary doesn’t blame other people. He knows he had a bad year. He’s come in, he’s worked hard. We had a lot of players last year who thought ‘don’t beat me and I won’t beat you’ or ‘I’ll let you shoot if you let me shoot.’ It’s not like that now.

On recruiting for the Big 12 and the returners in their second season …

I think everyone knows that Terry and Eron are going to score. Terry shot 48 percent from 3-point in league play, which is pretty good.

On injury issues …

I don’t think there are any. We’ve had some ankle issues and those kinds of things but we’re good. Elijah (Macon) I hope isn’t turf toe because that takes a while, but I think that’s what he did.

On the start time and schedule changes …

Contrary to what people think, I think the start times were more there to help us, but we didn’t deserve to be on ESPN. I really don’t think many people pay attention to whether it’s on ESPN, ESPN2, or ESPNU, it’s what game you want to watch. It’s obvious that it hurt our crowds. 9 p.m. starts really hurt our crowds. 9 p.m. on a weekday when you’re coming from Charleston or Logan, or Harper’s Ferry, it’s hard. I think the commissioner deserves a lot of credit because he was very vocal about changing it. We have to do our best to help these people, because we were at a terrible disadvantage.

Tags
Bob Huggins, West Virginia University Mountaineers, Big 12 men's basketball


Latest Videos




Football Friday, presented by the WV Lottery

ESPN College GameDay Visits Morgantown

WVUsportsBuzz, presented by US Cellular

Nikki Izzo-Brown: Baylor Pregame

Kyle Rose: TCU Pregame

Men's Basketball: Season Ticket Delivery
Citynet