After emerging as one of the most feared, resilient defensive teams in the country over the past four years, West Virginia basketball is now a shell of what it once was.
In 2017 and with Jevon Carter running “Press Virginia,” the Mountaineers were 13th in the country in steals per game (8.1), eighth in turnovers forced per game (16.5), and were 15th in blocks per game (5.2). This season, Bob Huggins’ group is 205th, 278th, and 37th, respectively.
And much like he did in 2013, Huggins has once again promised to “fix it.”
Following the Mountaineers’ 66-56 loss to Florida in Madison Square Garden on Tuesday, the 65-year-old coach admitted he’s not afraid to hit the reset button.
“If we’re going to go back to playing the way we played before, we’re going to have to play so much harder and that means we’ve got some guys that aren’t going to play. . . .[W]e’ve got some guys that need to grow up. And if they don’t do it, then I can’t have them around. . . . [I]f their attitudes don’t change, they won’t be with us.”
Above everything else, effort has been and will always be the secret ingredient Huggins employs to get the most of his players. Examples like Jevon Carter, who entered the program as a heavily under-recruited scoring guard and left as the best two-way player in school history, make up the tradition of West Virginia basketball. Or Sagaba Konate, with patience, hard work, and practice, transformed himself into an elite rim-protector with NBA aspirations.
More specifically, Carter proved invaluable in guiding the Mountaineers to four-straight 25+ win seasons after West Virginia posted a dismal 13-19 record in 2013. Obviously, that team and that season required a heavy dose of Huggins’ “fixing.” Over the span of two years, West Virginia allowed a total six players to transfer and focused on players that “bought into” the press defense.
The rest, as they say, is history.
This season, however, Huggins has not only supplied us with another promise to resolve the issues that plague West Virginia. He’s also made it clear that he won’t tolerate players that don’t “buy in.”
“I think I can fix it. I’ve fixed it before. And when I can’t fix it, I cut it out. It’s not fair to everybody else. That’s why they call it team. We’ll fix it or we’ll cut it out.”