Huggins Looking For A Spark Off The Bench - WVU Football, WVU Basketball, News - Mountaineer Sports

Huggins Looking For A Spark Off The Bench


West Virginia University Head Coach Bob Huggins is a firm believer in the old adage that it does not matter who starts any given game, what matters is who is on the floor to finish it.

That means that he is constantly on the lookout for a solid and reliable sixth man. Huggins wants someone who can come off the bench and provide a huge spark. He likes to call it a game-changer or someone who can single-handedly change the flow of the game.

There are several players still working on nailing down that role on this team. Keaton Miles gives WVU a lot in terms of his knowledge of the game and of the system. Miles has played in every game this season and logged more than 20 minutes played in seven games.

Gary Browne is typically the first guard off the bench. Browne and Jabarie Hinds are usually subbing in for each other. Browne has the ability to change a game with his scoring ability.

When it comes to providing a surge of energy off the bench and helping to score a few buckets, forward Dom Rutledge is a good candidate. Rutledge brings a decent amount of athleticism into the game, which can and has sparked a run offensively.

Rutledge entered the recent game against Oakland and threw down a pair of dunks in a short time. Those energized the crowd at the Coliseum and brought everyone off the WVU bench. Remaining consistent has been Rutledge's problem. Shortly after those nice plays, he began to throw the ball away and cause some turnovers.

Rutledge entered the game against Radford and tried to be more consistent rebounding the ball and playing defense. He brought down a few rebounds, but turned it over looking for his teammates. That brought Huggins to his feet and Rutledge to the bench.

"I notice I've been very streaky lately," Rutledge said. "If I'm going good, I'm going good. If I'm going bad I make a few mistakes in a row. That's just something I have to work on personally."

Huggins has told his players that he needs that guy to fulfill a game-changing role. Rutledge has the athleticism to do it and believes he is the right guy for the job.

"I can be (that guy)," Rutledge stated. "It's just about mental focus and a lot of things I have to take care of on the mental part. Physically I think I am better than ever. There are a few mental mistakes I have to get out of doing early and I think I will be fine."          

Rutledge played a key role in the game against Radford. He held down the middle of the 1-3-1 zone, which forced a few turnovers in a key stretch of the game allowing WVU to pull away.

Keaton Miles will likely log the most minutes off the bench. Browne will also receive his share of playing time. Neither one of them will "spark" much success upon their entrance to the game. They will handle providing some of this here and some of that there.

Huggins said following one of West Virginia's recent wins that he believes Rutledge can fulfill that "game-changer" role. Can is the operative word in that sentence. Rutledge can do the job, but hasn't gabbed hold of it yet.

"I have to just come out and do better helping these guys," Rutledge stated. "I should be that spark coming off the bench and rebound and be tough on the defensive end."

Rutledge's next chance to help take control of that role on this team will be December 30 against Eastern Kentucky. That is West Virginia's last non-conference game before Big 12 play begins January 5 against Oklahoma.

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