Huggins not to blame for WVU’s struggles
Published: Tuesday, January 22, 2013
Updated: Tuesday, January 22, 2013 00:01
West Virginia is having its worst season in more than a decade.
The Mountaineers have been run out of the gym on multiple occasions, including a 34-point defeat to begin the season against Gonzaga and a 27-point loss at Purdue in their most recent outing.
West Virginia sits at 8-9 and is in dangerous jeopardy of failing to make the NCAA tournament for the first time since veteran head coach Bob Huggins took over in April 2007.
The Mountaineers are currently No. 322 in shooting percentage nationally, lacking the talent possessed in recent seasons in Morgantown, and much of the blame has been placed on Huggins not recruiting effectively in recent years.
Huggins even said, "I’m going to go recruit, which obviously, I need to do," after his team’s third straight loss Saturday.
But the brunt of the Mountaineers problems this season isn’t because Huggins hasn’t recruited well.
There are multiple players who Huggins expected to be playing and contributing right now who, for whatever reason, no longer or never sported a West Virginia uniform.
Let’s start with four-star recruit Noah Cottrill.
Cottrill, who also received a scholarship offer from Florida, was expected to be an immediate scoring contributor.
But a suspension for violation of team rules led to an unexpected dismissal from the team before even making an appearance on the Coliseum floor.
He would be a junior for the Mountaineers right now.
Now for David Nyarsuk.
The 7-foot-1 native of Sudan was also in Cottrill’s 2010 recruiting class.
Nyarsuk failed to qualify academically and was forced to attend Mountain State University for a season.
He is now a role player for No. 21 Cincinnati, averaging three points and four rebounds off the bench in his first season with the Bearcats.
How about Dalton Pepper?
Pepper played in 30 games his freshman season in 2009 – a team which went to the Final Four – and in 32 games his sophomore year before health problems with his family at home forced him to transfer to Temple.
Pepper is now a key-contributor in an Owls’ team, which has beaten No. 3 Syracuse and almost knocked off second-ranked Kansas on the road.
He would be a senior right now for Huggins.
On to Dan Jennings –
Jennings was a three-star recruit who received offers from Pittsburgh, Arizona and Xavier, among others.
He saw action in his freshman and sophomore campaigns with the Mountaineers before he left the bench during a game in 2011 against South Florida and later transferred to Long Beach State.
He’s currently averaging 10 points and seven rebounds a game for the 49ers, including 27 points vs. UCLA, 20 points and seven rebounds against No. 3 Syracuse and 16 points and eight rebounds against No. 7 Ohio State.
Jennings would be a senior for Huggins this season.
Now for Darrious Curry …
Curry was only a two-star recruit, but at 6-foot-7, he had a lot of length and scoring ability.
Curry couldn’t medically qualify due to a rare heart condition.
He would be a junior for Huggins’ team right now.
How about Elijah Macon?
Macon was a four-star recruit from Huntington Prep and played with current top-recruit Andrew Wiggins.
He received offers from Kansas State, Maryland and Pittsburgh but failed to
academically qualify. He’s now at Brewster Academy in New Hampshire and is expected to join the Mountaineers next season.
He would be a freshman this year.
We could even talk about players like Ryan Boatright, who originally made a verbal commitment to Huggins and is now averaging more than 16 points per game for UConn.
The bottom line is Huggins has done exactly what he’s needed to do in terms of recruiting.
He has attracted high-quality players to Morgantown, but a combination of bad fortune and whatever else you want to call it has forced Huggins to fill his roster with players he didn’t expect to have, let alone play.
The recruiting world today is a cutthroat business.
And Bob Huggins has what it takes to continue to bring top-tier players to West Virginia and to continue to do what he does best – win games.