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Asti: Bob Huggins Has Reason to be Upset with Team Despite Winning Big



Bob Huggins’ team is winning big, even bigger than most expected, but he’s not satisfied. In fact, it’s possible to actually argue he’s upset at his team.

And honestly, he has every right to be disappointed in how his team is playing despite winning by 18, 25 and 18 so far in the season.

“I’ve never seen anything like it. I’ve never had a team miss more layups than this team,” a clearly frustrated Huggins said in response to my question about the mistakes by the young players and veterans alike.

When a coach who has been around as long as he has, in fact he’s coached the fifth-most games by anyone ever, and has won as many games as he has, over 900 now, says he’s never seen something, that can really speak volumes. Now, of course, Huggins is one to exaggerate at times, but his point is accurate.

Much like last season with a team with less experience and depth, this year’s group still makes mental mistakes, mostly with the missed layups that could comeback to haunt them at some point this season, most notably once they get into the gauntlet that is Big 12 play. A missed layup to stop a scoring run to open the Backyard Brawl and a series of three-straight possessions with multiple missed layups and a miss three-point try in the win over Morehead State jump out as occurrences that did not end up mattering but can’t continue to go on. That’s what Huggins is talking about.

Huggins showed a clear sense of frustration, when despite holding a comfortable lead, WVU got complacent and careless against Morehead State, a team that’s no slouch and the Mountaineers know from a recent NCAA Tournament matchup. The Basketball Hall of Fame coach pulled 5th-year senior Erik Stevenson aside during a timeout to give the ear of his team leader a piece of his mind after the misses. We did not speak with Stevenson after the game to ask about what was said exactly, but Tre Mitchell did confirm Stevenson communicated Huggins’ displeasure to the rest of the team. They knew it was unacceptable to play that way. Not that a Vegas line matters to a coach, but it is worth noting West Virginia was favored by 19.5 and won by 18. So take away the possessions with mental lapses and WVU likely covers that spread.

Being able to hit outside shots and rebound, like pulling down 45 boards against Mount St. Mary’s, something last season’s team struggled with all year, can make for for fundamental errors. However, missed layups can’t happen against perennial power house Kansas, recent national champion Baylor, a Texas team that beat Gonzaga or any of other quality opponents that will eventually pop up on the schedule.

And the fact remains, while the big early season wins show the true potential of a team that’s not nearly at full strength yet, there are moments that still provide pause and are why Huggins is not interested in pumping his team’s ego with any kind of praise yet. Mitchell is still only 6 weeks removed from surgery and admitted that he’s just now starting to learn the offensive plays. He still had 21 points on only 10 shots on Tuesday night. “He’s still not the guy you’re going to see later on,” Huggins expressed postgame in Pittsburgh.

Asti: This West Virginia Basketball Team Feels Different, Showing Signs of High Ceiling

How good this team will be with Mitchell at 100% isn’t even the only thing that may keep opposing coaches up at night. Manhattan transfer Jose Perez will be added to this roster at some point. Perez is now enrolled in school at WVU and expected to be able to play around the time of conference play at the latest. He was a sniper for Manhattan and Huggins usually gets the most out of players, making the possibilities of Perez as a Mountaineer that much more enticing.

It’s tough to complain about winning, but it’s valid when you have high hopes and know that a team is not playing to its potential, regardless of being victorious.

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