West Virginia head coach Bob Huggins is frustrated. It isn’t for any lack of effort or character issues on his team. Huggins wants the Mountaineers to not only play, but think differently. He hopes they can end up being like a special team from the past.
“If you go back to 2010, what did we say constantly? ‘Do what we do,’” Huggins said. “They would say that before every game. ‘Do what we do.’”
WVU, with a 6-3 record on the young season, would certainly welcome the success of that team from just four years ago. The 2010 Mountaineers, led by De’Sean Butler and Devin Ebanks, advanced all the way to the Final Four before losing to Duke.
The Mountaineers beat six ranked opponents and won the Big East Tournament championship. However, it wasn’t the number of wins or history left behind that Huggins still treasures.
“(The 2010 team) understood it wasn’t the five most talented guys in the country,” Huggins said. “It wasn’t the five guys that had all the talent to go to the Final Four. What it was was a group of five guys that were better than other people’s five guys because they played so well together.”
While bringing on the same expectations as one of the greatest teams in program history may be a bit unfair, Huggins hopes the mentality of the 31-win team can return to the locker room for the 2013-14 bunch.
West Virginia has been looking for ways to get back on the college basketball map in the early parts of the season. The Mountaineers had early chances at quality wins against Virginia Tech, Wisconsin and Missouri but fell in all three contests.
Today brings a new challenge for WVU when it hosts No. 15 Gonzaga. While the memories of the Final Four team are warm, the ones in recent matchups against the Bulldogs aren’t. Gonzaga beat West Virginia in the 2012 NCAA Tournament and the next season in the 2012-13 opener. The two wins were by a combined 57 points.
The ability to win is still a work in progress for the Mountaineers. The team has shown flashes of good play, but the Mountaineers still lack consistency and competitiveness against formidable opponents.
“We don’t have guys that can make step-back 3s,” Huggins said. “We don’t have guys that can dribble it between people’s legs. What they can do is make open shots.”
Time will tell if the 2013-14 team will live up to the one in 2009, but the foundations of a rebirth in the program have been laid. Sophomores Eron Harris and Terry Henderson and freshman Devin Williams all average 10 or more points per game, despite their young ages.
West Virginia and No. 15 Gonzaga tip off at 9 p.m. tonight inside the WVU Coliseum.