Huggins in Elite Company with Win No. 729 - WVU Football, WVU Basketball, News - Mountaineer Sports

Huggins in Elite Company with Win No. 729

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MORGANTOWN -

Bob Huggins has a story he likes to tell. Well, let's be honest, he has many he likes to tell and if you have the pleasure of frequenting his interviews, he tells them quite often.

On Monday night, the West Virginia University men's basketball coach recorded career victory No. 729, good for a tie for 16th place all-time in the NCAA Division I ranks. That story has never been told, but he alluded to one that has been plenty of times when he was asked what it means to reach a milestone like that.

"As I've said many times, I don't look backwards," said Huggins. "It's probably a good thing, too. You keep looking out the windshield and going forward."

The story is one of a young Huggins hopping into a truck in Midvale, Ohio and noticing that the vehicle had no rearview mirror. Huggins, concerned perhaps, pointed out the missing part to the driver and was promptly told, "Boy, we ain't going backwards."

"That's the way I've lived my life," Huggins said when much of the nation's media first heard that story as he brought the Mountaineers to a Big East Tournament championship and a Final Four back in 2010.

A few years later, he still goes back to the classics that have worked for him time and time again.

Huggins is a history buff, though, and despite his desire to look forward, he frequently recounts the past. Whether it be special players he has had the opportunity to work with or coaches who helped mold him along the way, he gives credit where it is due.

One of those coaches who Huggins is quick to bring up when describing how he was molded into the teacher he has become is Jerry Tarkanian, the former UNLV coach. His 729th win pulled Huggins even with both Tarkanian and former Missouri coach Norm Stewart.

"Tark has been like a grandfather, an uncle, to me," Huggins said of Tarkanian. "When I was just a young kid, young coach and he kind of took me under his wing, he's been absolutely phenomenal to me and has given me a lot of advice both Xs and Os-wise and just about our business in general. So I have incredible respect for Tark and I guess that's what it means to me is two names of two people that I have great respect for."

Huggins will see part of Stewart's legacy firsthand when he takes his Mountaineers on the road to Missouri on Thursday.

His own legacy, though, is still being written. Huggins' players say his honesty and his determination to get the most of out the men he puts on the court and in the classroom are just part of why he has been so successful.

For Huggins, a large piece to the puzzle is the ability to be honest, even when the honest answer may not be what a person wants to hear at the time.

"I've always had good communication and those guys have been tremendously loyal and I think that's a two-way street. It's like they say: Be loyal to your school and the school will be loyal back. It doesn't always work that way. I found that out," Huggins said, referring to the end of his time with the University of Cincinnati.

"I know for a fact now, so if you expect players to be loyal to you, you have to be loyal to them," he said. "If you expect your players to work, you have to work yourself."

Many of the lessons Huggins learned, he got from watching his own father. He took what he liked and built on it and tossed aside the aspects of his dad's teaching that he didn't have a taste for.

"To a great degree, we are determined not to be like some things we didn't like. The things you didn't like, you probably made a determined effort not to treat your kids that way," he said.

Huggins may not like to look backward, but the lessons in his past have prepared him each day for what may lie ahead when he looks through that windshield to the road before him. For now, he sits among the game's elite, still climbing up the chart. 

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