Huggins, Mountaineers preparing for final stretch of 2013 season
Published: Wednesday, February 27, 2013
Updated: Wednesday, February 27, 2013 01:02
With the final stretch of the regular season nearing, Bob Huggins and the West Virginia men’s basketball team have been left scratching their heads.
Why has this team struggled so much in 2013?
For reasons no one knows the answers to, including the veteran Huggins, the Mountaineers will miss out on a sixth-straight NCAA tournament appearance, barring a miraculous run to a Conference title in Kansas City next month.
One statistical flaw that jumps off of the page is West Virginia’s field-goal percentage. The Mountaineers currently rank 294th with a team shooting percentage of 40 percent – somehow an improvement from a No. 320 ranking last month.
"I think (BU head coach) Scott (Drew) said it best: ‘when you’re making shots, everything is good,’" Huggins said during his weekly Big 12 teleconference. "Sometimes, when you don’t make shots, you struggle. I think this league is so close in a lot of ways talent-wise that the team that makes open shots is the team that’s going to win."
The poor shooting may not be all that’s to blame for problems encountered on both ends of the floor for WVU this season.
Turnovers on offense – particularly live-ball turnovers, which lead to an easy fast-break layup for opponents – have been extremely detrimental in many games this season.
"It’s really pretty obvious - don’t throw them the ball," Huggins said. "Sometimes, I think our guys are color blind. We have a tendency to throw it to the wrong team at times. Live-ball turnovers have killed us. We just have not done a very good job with that."
Making their inaugural appearance in the Big 12 Conference, Huggins and his staff have already noticed some glaring differences between the style of play in the new league compared to that of the Big East Conference – the conference the Mountaineers called home for 17 seasons.
Even down to the size and athleticism of certain position players, playing in the Big 12 may require Huggins to recruit different types of athletes.
"I think the power forwards in the Big 12 are more three/fours than they are four/fives, like they are in the Big East," Huggins said. "They bounce it a lot better. I think in some instances, people run a lot of offense through them, which wasn’t the case."
The increased travel has also affected the Mountaineers. Multiple Big Monday 9 p.m. tipoffs have resulted in not returning to Morgantown until nearly 4 a.m. on Tuesdays.
As far as changing routine, this is something the WVU head coach will sit down and address after the season.
"I think we’ve all got some ideas," Huggins said. "I think, at the end of the year, we all need to put our heads together and figure out what is the most fair and equitable thing to do."