Huggins Fires Back at Marshall Coach D'Antoni

When West Virginia and Marshall get together in Charleston, it often results in an ugly dogfight. Fouls mount, tempers flare and at the game's end, there is always talk from either side about how much of a rivalry the annual Capital Classic has really become.

MU head coach Dan D'Antoni made it clear in the opening remarks of his post game press conference that he would prefer to have his team's annual Super Bowl played multiple times each year.

"It's good for the state," D'Antoni said. "I've heard suggestions for a home-and-home. Here's what I think: Morgantown, Charleston (in one year), and the next year, Charleston, Huntington. It's good for the state. If they back out now, they're afraid of us. We're coming back."

The 69-66 final, which featured the Thundering Herd (3-6) losing an 8-point lead to the Mountaineers (9-1), was enough for D'Antoni to strongly express his opinion regarding the future of the series.

On Monday night, Bob Huggins responded.

West Virginia's head coach spoke on his weekly radio show and right off the top of the program, he made mention of something that occurred the night before that he found "laughable."

"I love this university and I take great pride in being able to represent this university and for somebody to say that West Virginia University is afraid? Please," Huggins said on the Mountaineer Sports Network from IMG. "We've beaten Duke. Mike [Krzyzewski] is a pretty good coach. Was I afraid? I didn't think I was afraid playing Duke. Played [Syracuse coach Jim] Boeheim – we used to play him every year – great coach. I wasn't afraid. Why would I be afraid?"

Huggins first talked about the general lack of interest in the rivalry from local media covering West Virginia University before getting down to the numbers that would back up his side of the argument.

"Let's be honest. I have all of the RPIs of all of the people that we play this year. Going into the game, Marshall was 270 in the RPI. After playing us, they jumped all the way up to 237," Huggins said.

While the Herd jumped in the RPI despite a loss, WVU was at No. 36 prior to the meeting and a loss would have cost the Mountaineers greatly.

"You try not to play anybody below 200," Huggins said. "Now they want to play twice in a year? Are you kidding me?"

Non-conference opponents do not play each other twice in the same season – that sort of match-up is saved for league foes. Speaking of which, Huggins made sure to sing the Big 12's praises in pointing out that it is the nation's top RPI conference and has sent the second-most lottery picks to the NBA.

Conference USA, where Marshall plays, is currently the No. 15 RPI conference.

"My fear is that our people don't get caught up in this stuff and do something that's not in our best interest," Huggins said. "This is the fifth time in 10 years that they've been 116 in the RPI or worse. How's it in our best interest? It's not in our best interest. It's not in the best interest of West Virginia basketball."

Huggins said he would not be upset if the annual meeting was discontinued, but he did also reiterate that he believes giving WVU fans in the Charleston area a close game to attend is of interest to him.

"To go to Charleston, I think it is good for the kids that can't get [to Morgantown] and those kinds of things," Huggins said. "If you're Marshall and nobody's coming to your games, why wouldn't you want something to bring in that's going to fill the place up? They're not going to fill our place up. It's not equitable."

It is instead, according to Huggins, "laughable."

Next year's Capital Classic will likely carry far more intrigue after the comments from each head coach after the most recent get together. 


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