From the Cheap Seat: Thugs No, Mountaineers Yes - WVU Football, WVU Basketball, News - Mountaineer Sports

From the Cheap Seats: Thugs No, Mountaineers Yes

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There was a lot of excitement five years ago, when it was announced that Bob Huggins was coming back to Morgantown, but there were some fans who weren't quite as excited as the rest. That lack of excitement had something to do with the new coach's reputation. He was replacing a coach with a squeaky-clean image and his wasn't quite so shiny. When it came to the reputations of both coaches, some aspects were true and some weren't. Part of Huggs' reputation surrounded the character of the players he had recruited in the past, particularly at Cincinnati. At the time of Huggins' hiring, I worked with a guy who repeated the phrase "Thuggin' with Huggins" anytime the new coach's name was brought up. Finally, some of his co-workers threatened to resort to some thuggery of their own, if he didn't cut it out.

Like a lot of fans, I was somewhat familiar with Coach Huggins and his major successes and failures, but I guess I had never paid close enough attention to his career to know how much of his reputation was true and how much of it was a figment of the media's imagination.

Five years have passed and Mountaineer fans have had the opportunity to form opinions of their own. Granted, four of the last five teams have featured players recruited to Morgantown by John Beilein, but this year ends the Mountaineer careers of Huggins' first true recruiting class. Three freshmen came to Morgantown for the 2008-2009 season: Devin Ebanks, Truck Bryant and Kevin Jones.

We know that Ebanks left early for the NBA. While he hasn't gotten a whole lot of pro minutes, there are a lot worse things he could be doing than putting on an L. A. Lakers uniform 80 to 90 times a year.

From the attention he's deservedly received this season from the media, the fans and Coach Huggs, we know that KJ has had four great years in the Old Gold and Blue. The career numbers he'll leave with bear it out: first in offensive rebounds(by more than 100), fourth in rebounds overall, fifth in scoring, second in double figure games, second in minutes played, sixth in double doubles and games played and ninth in blocked shots. Throw in leading the Big East in both scoring and rebounding this season, something no one else in WVU history has done, and he's got quite a resume.

Truck hasn't had quite the career in Morgantown that KJ has, and fans and the media have been quick to point it out. At times, has he driven all of us crazy with his decision making and shooting slumps? Absolutely, but in fairness, he's leaving a pretty decent statistical mark himself. He's second in games started, third in free throws made(behind only Jerry West and Hot Rod Hundley), fourth in minutes played, sixth in three pointers made, seventh in games played, eighth in double-figure scoring, tenth in assists and 14th in scoring. It doesn't show up in the record books, but Truck's got to be near the top of the list when it comes to confidence. Say what you want about his performances, but he's never shied away from anything.

Both guys have done a lot of good things in high tops, but it's what they've done off the court that has made me proud to have them representing our university. By all accounts, they're both good students and good in the community. Have you heard even so much as a whisper about discipline issues with either of these guys? I certainly haven't. When answering the media's questions, they both focus on the team and winning. They don't make excuses and they stay positive.

If KJ and Truck are representative of the kind of guys we can expect Huggs to continue to bring to Morgantown, "Thuggin' with Huggins" will disappear like that co-worker almost did. Whether the new crop of Mountaineers can follow in the large footsteps of KJ and Truck, and whether Coach Huggins can find more like them, remains to be seen. In the meantime, thanks Coach for making them Mountaineers and thanks Truck and KJ for the memories. How about a few more before you go?

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