WVU Basketball Staff Looks For More Versatility - WVU Football, WVU Basketball, News - Mountaineer Sports

WVU Basketball Staff Looks For More Versatility

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MORGANTOWN -

The West Virginia University men's basketball team experienced something last season it had not experienced since 2003. It was the first time in 10 years that WVU did not earn an invitation to either the NCAA Tournament or the NIT.

Head Coach Bob Huggins kept saying throughout the season that he would "fix it." That fix included an overhaul of the roster that will include just six returning players from a year ago.

Through the recruiting process, the WVU coaching staff found what it believes will be more size and especially more versatile players.

"If you look at the Final Four team and how versatile we were, that is what we are trying to get back to," WVU Assistant Coach Larry Harrison said. "We were looking for guys who could play more than one position and I think we brought in guys who could do that."

"It is good to have options and that is what this recruiting class is more about is having more options," WVU Assistant Coach Erik Martin said. "We want to try and be as versatile as we were during the Final Four year."

Versatility creates a lot more options for Head Coach Bob Huggins and his staff in regards to the various lineups they can put on the floor. It also especially helps to try and find the best ways to create mismatches in their favor against opponents.

The newcomers add to the size and length that WVU already has in the form of an Aaric Murray. Those are two ingredients that Huggins looks for when deciding to implement a full court press or the 1-3-1 zone.

"Huggs, I am talking to you. Can we press this year?" Martin joking asked looking directly into our camera. "I am really looking forward to getting those guys and teaching them the press. Not so much to turn them over, but change the pace of the game. With length and depth you can do that. We probably do have as much size as we did our Final Four year. Are they as good or talented? Not right now."

Talent can only go so far. The team needs to come together in ways that it did not last year. There has to be leadership and a stronger desire to succeed on the court.

"I told the guys who came into my office that next year it is going to get bloody," Martin stated. "Coach says it all the time, you shouldn't have to coach effort. I think too many times last season we were coaching effort so we couldn't get into the X's and O's during drills in practice."

The more time coaches have to spent teaching effort, the less time they can spend on scouting reports and getting the team ready for its upcoming game.

"Drills dragged on longer than they needed to," Martin remembered. "I don't think that is going to be a problem this year. The summertime is going to be a good time to show these guys that this is the way it is going to be so you are either in or you are out."

"It's going to be completely different," Harrison said about the new roster. "Through the recruiting process I think they understand the effort level we expect from them. As soon as we can get them in and get them acclimated to the things we do by September or October, they will get even better."

The staff is high on this team and the upcoming season. There is just one senior on the roster, which means this team will be together as it is currently constructed for two years.

"This team, with the exception of Aaric Murray, we are going to have for two years," Martin said. "I say if we are going to win a national championship it has to be in these next two years."

The coaching staff began working with the returning players this weekend. The NCAA allows two one-hour practices per week this time of year. Some newcomers will begin trickling in within the next couple of weeks with the remainder set to arrive near the end of the summer.

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