Huggins Faced with Fixing 'Eers Before Big 12 Play - WVU Football, WVU Basketball, News - Mountaineer Sports

Huggins Faced with Fixing 'Eers Before Big 12 Play


As soon as he finished with the media, Bob Huggins returned to the court where his team had just hung on for a victory over Eastern Kentucky.

He would not wait until West Virginia's next film session to begin the work needed to fix what he saw transpire in a second half that nearly erased all of a 13-point halftime deficit before his Mountaineers held on for a 74-67 win.

Huggins, walking across the Coliseum court after his press conference, told his event staff escort to go on without him. He branched off from his normal route and found assistant coach Ron Everhart and immediately began an animated conversation, clearly focused on what had just wrapped up on that floor minutes ago.

When he had finished discussing these things with Everhart, Huggins took a seat behind one of the baskets next to his associate head coach, Larry Harrison.

Harrison sat quietly while Huggins signed autographs for a group of fans who had made their way onto the court.

Business was on the agenda. A talk about all that has gone wrong for the better part of the season, what of it had carried over into the final 20 minutes against the Colonels and how those parts of the game could be fixed in time for Oklahoma's trip to Morgantown on Jan. 5.

There is no time available for wasting, so Huggins had no other choice.

"I understand I recruited them, I've got to fix it," Huggins had said to close his press conference. "I understand that."

Understanding where to begin to make the fixes may be the bigger task for the coach in his sixth season at West Virginia.

The Big 12 is a bit of an unknown for West Virginia, but with the non-conference portion of the schedule mostly in the books, the Mountaineers know they cannot perform as they did in jumping out to a 7-5 record and expect to win consistently against their new league opponents.

"I really thought we got better," Huggins said. "I, honest to God, other than doing really dumb things in the first half, I thought by God, it kind of looks like my team again, you know? It kind of looks like my team, kind of looks like we're playing like my team and then as soon as I [am] dumb enough to start thinking that, we come out and let them shoot 63 percent in the second half."

When one half goes so well and the next sees everything fall apart, the attention has to be on what did not work rather than the successes of the initial 20 minutes. For WVU's part, there will be plenty to watch on film in the coming days and critique in a search for improvements.

"We came out tough, played great defense, made shots, thought we were going to put them away early, but we let them creep back in there the second half and had to grind it out. We just have to put two halves together," Juwan Staten said after he put together a strong showing against EKU.

"I think we've got to concentrate a little more," Deniz Kilicli began to explain before admitting the truth. "I don't know, man. I don't know. If I knew it, I'd be able to fix it."

Maybe Huggins does know. Maybe he doesn't.

His job, though, is to find the answers. He didn't sign up to coach the Mountaineers believing that every season would be simple and that the adversity that did rear its head would simply go away without real work.

So he stayed after the game. He kept his assistants close by with an earful of instruction, while being mindful of the fact that the best answers may be some he had not yet thought of.

The cleaning crew moved about the Coliseum, sweeping up what had been left behind and washing away all that remained from the last night of prep before conference play, but Huggins remained.

It's his job to fix it.

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