MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – There may not be another team in the entire country that is as deep as West Virginia is, at least that’s what Bob Huggins is counting on.
“The whole idea was, play a four-minute, five-minute deal, take them out, play the second group four to five minutes, take them out and we wear the other team down,” Huggins explained following a win over Boston University Friday night.
Huggins played 13 different players against the Terriers, in each of the team’s previous three games this year he used 11.
Huggins wants to weaponize West Virginia’s depth by having guys play as hard as they can when they are on the court while continuously subbing them out for fresh players when they get tired. Since WVU has quality depth, in Huggins’ eyes, this strategy would either completely wear down the opposing team’s starters or force the other team to sub in new players who, presumably, are not as good.
WVU plays three guards and two bigs on the floor at any given time. Huggins rotates in up to eight guards and four bigs in any given game.
“It’s like (Huggins) keeps saying ‘everybody keep playing as hard as you can for two minutes’,” senior forward Logan Routt said. “The next guy in two minutes, you go back in two minutes, teams are not going to like that at all.”
The only problem with this strategy is, for it to work Huggins’ guys actually have to play hard all the time while they are on the floor, something that has not happened yet this season, something that Huggins views as punishable by benching.
“I want to play the guys who want to play, I want to play the guys who play hard, who give us effort. If they’re not doing that they’re coming out,” Huggins said. “Some of them I obviously haven’t sat them long enough. If I sat them longer they’ll probably conform a little faster, it usually works that way.”
Huggins sat sophomore forward Derek Culver for the entire first half against Northern Colorado on Monday. Whatever message Huggins was trying to send evidently go through to Culver as he scored 13 points in the 11 minutes he played against the Bears and had 10 more points against the Terriers on Friday.
The team’s next time out will be in Cancun, Mexico for games three and four of the Cancun Challenge. The Mountaineers will face Northern Iowa Tuesday and either South Carolina or Wichita State Wednesday.