Huggins Takes Strong Message into Loyola Matchup - WVU Football, WVU Basketball, News - Mountaineer Sports

Huggins Takes Strong Message into Loyola Matchup

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MORGANTOWN -

Bob Huggins is hoping that his team's start to the season will be enough to get fans in the seats at the Coliseum, beginning with tonight's matchup against Loyola.

In the games before the Mountaineers (5-2) went down to play out the rest of the Cancun Challenge, WVU managed to fill fewer than 10,000 combined seats of its 14,000 capacity. The students were already on Thanksgiving break, so the fans get a bit of a reprieve, but Huggins is hoping Mountaineer Nation can get behind what he thinks has the potential to be a quality squad this season.

"I keep hearing these guys are fun to watch. How about come and watch them? We're going to get better, these guys are going to give great effort. We will continue to get better and get this program back to where it's supposed to be," Huggins said on his postgame radio show following the loss to No. 10 Wisconsin. "For us to continue to be a national program in all sports, by God, we need some support, too. It's on everybody."

Wednesday night's title bout with a top 10 team was a chance for West Virginia to prove to its fans and to college basketball just how far the program has come since a dismal 13-19 performance a year ago.

Huggins recognizes that the opportunity was there and that despite playing a strong Badgers team, his was in just as good of a position to win. With eight missed free throws, some at crucial moments, that opportunity slipped away.

"We had an opportunity here tonight to get back on the map, to get West Virginia basketball back where it belongs and where it's going to be. We're going to get back there," said Huggins.

Remember last year after every setback, the head coach faced the media and recited the same vow? He said he would fix it. The problems that left the Mountaineers looking lost and completely out of synch would be corrected. Plenty of that fix came from major changes in personnel with players transferring to and from the program and freshmen making an impact.

Those freshmen are not yet at the point where they can be counted on to carry the load in the manner Huggins will need them to in order to compete each night in the Big 12.

"We've got freshmen that the game just got too big for them, in all honesty," said Huggins.  "I don't believe we understand [how hard] you have to play."
Still, there is production from these young players and a sign of things to come if they continue to play within the system and, as Huggins loves to say, do what they do. They simply don't bring enough abilities to the game at this point to rely on them rather than allow them to play their role.

The chance to get back on track is tonight, as WVU welcomes Loyola to the Coliseum. It is a team that just played No. 13 Connecticut close and is similarly looking for a bounce back game after taking a highly ranked opponent to the wire.

"It's not acceptable to lose," Huggins said. "That's not what we stand for, that's not what we're about. I think it got to the point it was acceptable. I've never had that before, I don't want that again. Make some free throws. Get a rebound."

If the Mountaineers can make free throws, get rebounds and snatch away a victory, Huggins will move into a tie for 16th place on the NCAA Division I all-time wins list at 729. He isn't accustomed to losing, and he has no intention of becoming so. 

Tipoff is set for 7 p.m. with the game airing on ROOT Sports. 

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