Before the Mountaineers take the floor for the first time in front of fans on Friday night in the Blue-Gold Debut, West Virginia men’s basketball coach Bob Huggins met with the media on Thursday to discuss more about his players for this season.
Last season, the Mountaineers had to adjust to focus more on scoring, rather than defense, which is Huggins’ forte. West Virginia averaged 77.3 points per game, and allowed 72.0 to opponents.
Huggins and staff added shot blockers Pauly Paulicap and Dimon Carrigan from the transfer portal over the offseason.
So, how does Huggins think the defense is this year?
“We suck,” Huggins said. “We’re putting a lot of time in trying to do a better job at guarding the ball, trying to do a better job at not fouling.”
What’s wrong with this team’s defense thus far?
“We don’t make rotations the way we need to. If we could get to the point where we could make rotations the way we did when it was Da’Sean [Butler] and those guys, then we would be really good.”
Huggins mentioned that they have guys on defense that just stand and watch.
Paulicap and Carrigan were brought onto the team to try and fill in the void that was left by former WVU forward Derek Culver. A couple of weeks ago, Huggins was asked about what their job will be on this team.
“Well, hopefully they can get a rebound or two. We’re going to have enough people,” Huggins said.
West Virginia players Gabe Osabuohien, Taz Sherman, Jalen Bridges, Sean McNeil and Isaiah Cottrell were all asked on Thursday if the team felt guilty for making Culver go for every single rebound, everyone agreed. This season, it’s going to have to be a team effort from top-to-bottom to getting rebounds.
“It’s going to have to be [a team effort],” Huggins said.
The future hall of fame coach mentioned a name not talked about much who could get up those with the big guys and pull down some rebounds.
“Keddy for being a little guy, he rebounds the ball pretty well, for being as little as he is,” Huggins said.
Enough about the defense and rebounding. Huggins talked about what this team is good at this year, which is scoring the ball.
Despite losing Miles McBride and Culver, the Mountaineers bring back two double-digit scorers in Taz Sherman and Sean McNeil. Sherman averaged 13.4 points and McNeil had 12.2. Other offensive weapons like Jalen Bridges, Isaiah Cottrelll and Malik Curry could make this West Virginia team a dangerous scoring team.
Huggins says that they will play four-out this season, just like how they played after Oscar Tshiebwe left the program. There was also talk about having Cottrell play the five and making it five-out play.
“We could try to have JB [Jalen Bridges] guard the four but he’s going to be a perimeter guy,” Huggins said. “With Isaiah [Cottrell] being able to go out there and make shots, it’s really going to spread people’s defenses.”
The Mountaineers will take the floor for the first time on Friday night, at the WVU Coliseum, to partake in some activities as well as an inter-team scrimmage. The Blue-Gold Debut event is free and will start at 7 p.m.
(Top Photo: Dave Eggen/Inertia)