MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – West Virginia head coach Bob Huggins continues to climb up the NCAA all-time coaching wins list this season.
After the Mountaineers defeated Oklahoma State 65-47 Tuesday night, Huggins tied hall of hame North Carolina coach Dean Smith with 879 career wins. This puts Huggins at sixth all-time, two behind current North Carolina coach Roy Williams.
Although Smith retired from coaching in 1997, he and Huggins had some history together. When Huggins was the head coach a the University of Cincinnati he and Smith coached against one another three times, twice in 1993 and again in 1994. Smith had the advantage in all three meetings.
Huggins said Smith he got to know Smith pretty well off the court.
“I got to do Michael Jordan’s Fantasy Camp of which of course Coach (Smith) was there,” Huggins said. “I got to spend a lot of time with him. Quality guy, class guy, fun guy. He was more fun than I thought he ould be just from watching him from afar. A fun guy to be around.”
In the first meeting with Smith, Huggins was 40 years old and had only been a Divison-I head coach for 10 seasons. Despite this, Huggins said he was not worried about coaching against a legend like Smith.
“I didn’t really worry about Dean, I worried about them guys he had on his team,” Huggins said. “I never gave Dean one thought. I’m worried about how do we guard these guys.”
The first game between the two came on March 28, 1993 in the Elite Eight of the NCAA Tournament. No. 4 UNC defeated No. 7 Cincinnati 75-68 in overtime. The following season on Nov. 18, 1993 No. 1 UNC defeated No. 19 Cincinnati 90-63. In the final matchup on Dec. 3, 1994 No. 2 UNC defeated No. 10 Cincinnati 86-76 in the Diet Pepsi Tournament of Champions.
Huggins said one of the things he has enjoyed the most in his career is the opportunity to have spent time with a lot of the coaches he has now passed on the all-time wins list.
“I enjoy being around coaches, I’ve always enjoyed being around coaches. I’m very fortunate, I think, to be in the generation that I’m in, that I was able to spend tons of quality time with (hall of fame Marquette coach) Al McGuire and guys like that,” Huggins said. “Those are people that I admire, those are people that I’ve learned a lot from, those are people that taught me a lot.”
Whatever place he ranks and whoever he passes on the list is of no concern to Huggins however.
“Those (coaches) are my friends, what do I care.”