Huggins emphasizes resilience for stretch run - The Daily Athenaeum: Sports

Huggins emphasizes resilience for stretch run

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Posted: Thursday, February 20, 2014 1:59 am

The last two games have exposed two entirely different sides of Mountaineer men’s basketball head coach Bob Huggins.

Huggins couldn’t help but show pride and appreciation after WVU’s win over then-No. 11 Iowa State at the Coliseum Feb. 10.

However, the mood changed after West Virginia’s final trip to the Lone Star state didn’t go according to plan. The Mountaineers were thumped 88-71 in the team’s worst loss since mid-January.

Huggins and his team, perhaps humbled after their recent momentum, sent out a much different message. There’s still a lot more work to be done to be successful.

“We have to be more resilient during the game,” Huggins said.

“When things don’t go your way, you don’t stop playing. You play harder.”

The Mountaineers (15-11, 7-6 Big 12) quickly became one of the conference’s hottest teams who nobody seemed like they wanted to run into. That buzz has seemingly ended after just a single game in Austin.

With just five games remaining in the regular season, WVU is still in search of several more victories to improve its hopes for a NCAA Tournament bid in March.

Highly anticipated rematches with Iowa State and Kansas loom, but according to Huggins, the Mountaineers need to go into every game with two things in mind.

“I think we have (improved recently), but we have to guard better and rebound better,” he said. “There’s not a lot of constants in our game. The constant is you can guard and make things difficult for them. And you can rebound the ball.”

The last time West Virginia lost by double-digits was Jan. 18 at Kansas State. The Wildcats buried the Mountaineers, 78-56. At that moment it appeared the season was caving in quickly.

But WVU won the next four of five games and hiked its way back up the Big 12 Conference standings.

Perhaps Saturday was another turning point in the 2013-14 season. Maybe it was just the most recent reminder of what it takes to playing winning basketball.

The makeup of this team is to continually play good defense and shoot the ball well consistently.

“When we don’t make any shots there’s nowhere to go,” Huggins said.

“We have to make shots. When those guys make shots we’re pretty good offensively. It’s hard when you can’t throw it close (to the basket).”

The Mountaineers will have had a full week to prepare for Baylor by the time Saturday afternoon comes around.

WVU defeated Baylor 66-64 in Waco, Texas, Jan. 28. Currently sitting in the “first four out” category of ESPN’s Bracketology, WVU has learned how much things can change after just one game.

Tipoff is set for Saturday at 1:30 p.m. at the Coliseum.

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