Huggins wants WVU to adopt fast-paced style of play in 2011-12
Published: Tuesday, August 2, 2011
Updated: Tuesday, August 2, 2011 22:08
For the last few years, the West Virginia men's basketball team has been known to play a very distinct style of basketball.
It was a grind-it-out game where the Mountaineers wouldn't have to score many points in order to come away with victories. Two times last season – against Big East opponents South Florida and Seton Hall – West Virginia scored just 56 points, but was still able to be victorious.
There were four more times last season the Mountaineers scored 65 or fewer points and were still able to win. One of those was a late-season win at home over Connecticut, another a win on the road against a then-No. 13 Georgetown team.
So, the style's been working, but it's not what head coach Bob Huggins is used to.
Think back to the Huggins-coached teams at Cincinnati. Almost all of them were successful because of the way they were able to get up and down the floor and put a lot of points on the board. This season, the veteran head coach thinks his team will be able to start getting back to that.
"We're more athletic," Huggins said. "We were doing transition drills the other day, and there were two or three guys trying to dunk over top of guys, which we haven't had. We're normally trying to go underneath them."
One thing that has helped the team become more athletic heading into this season has been the additions of this year's recruiting class, which is the largest since Huggins has been at West Virginia. It is also considered a class full of talent that could come in and contribute immediately, thanks to that athleticism and the fact that WVU will be returning just four players from last year's team that lost in the third round of the NCAA tournament.
Huggins said the added depth, especially at the guard positions, will be vital in allowing the Mountaineers to run the floor more, which they haven't been able to do in the past.
"It's hard to run when you can't run," Huggins said. "I just didn't see Cam Thoroughman filling the lane. I love Cam to death, but that was not his forte."
With freshmen like Jabarie Hinds and Gary Browne and Dayton transfer Juwan Staten – who won't be able to play in 2011-12, but will have three years of eligibility remaining the following season – coming to provide depth at the point guard position, and Aaron Brown at shooting guard, the Mountaineers will finally have that depth that has hurt them in the backcourt for a few years now because of injury.
"When Joe got hurt and we only had Truck, I thought we had two point guards. Then he got hurt and Joe became the only point guard," Huggins said. "It's just been hard not having two guards."
Switching the styles isn't just something Huggins wants to get back to, it's something that has his returning players excited.
"We're long and athletic at every position, and that'll be good for us," said senior Truck Bryant. "Pressing, getting up and down and getting a lot more easy buckets than we had in the past.
"That's something I grew up with. I played high school with four guards, so we used to get up and down, and that's how I'm used to playing."