MORGANTOWN, W. Va. — Bob Huggins spoke to members of the media on Thursday as the season opener for his WVU men’s basketball team sits a week away.
The team is working to iron out some preseason kinks before it hosts Mount St. Mary’s on Monday, especially with a largely new crop of players.
Here’s what the Hall of Famer had to say on Tuesday:
Update on WVU’s progress
The Mountaineers were an unfinished product in their exhibition win over Bowling Green last week, but they are getting better as the season opener approaches.
“We’re getting there….I think we are progressing, we’ve just got to guard better, we don’t rebound it yet the way we should be capable of rebounding it with the personnel we have, and we throw it around too much,” Huggins said. “I guess that probably happens this time of year when you have a whole bunch of new guys.”
Huggins echoed the team’s postgame sentiments after Friday’s game, in which WVU turned the ball over 19 times and, while it won the rebounding battle by 18 boards, still didn’t perform on the glass as well as the coach had hoped.
A lot of these issues, Huggins said, will very likely work themselves out. As the overwhelming majority of the team is brand-new to each other, each player needs to build chemistry, and that takes time.
“We’re not shooting the ball as well as I thought or had hoped we would shoot the ball, but I think that will come too….Sometimes, it’s, ‘Should I take it, shouldn’t I take it?'” Huggins said. “I think it’s just getting comfortable and knowing their teammates. I think that has a lot to do with it.”
Huggins likes his team’s mentality
There’s no doubt that WVU wants to rectify the disaster of a season in 2021-22, and that is reflected in the players Huggins brought in for this campaign.
“We tried to make a concerted effort to recruit guys that wanted to win, and we’ve got some guys that didn’t win where they were, either, so I think they walked in here with a bad taste in their mouth, and obviously, the guys that were here certainly feel that way,” Huggins said.
WVU has the luxury of a full group of returning freshmen, now sophomores, who are looking to rectify the struggles of last season. Those players, namely Seth Wilson and Kobe Johnson, indicated that leaving the program was not considered an option in the offseason and that they were committed to turning the team back around.
That has manifested in some new leadership in the team, and that duo shows it off in practice.
“I mean if you watch practice, those guys are guys that are in the front of the line, they’re always guys that kind of stand out in their competitiveness,” Huggins said. “Seth, Kobe are two of our guys that have been around a little bit, they come from great programs, they both were successful in high school, they want to be successful.”