Huggins Gives Life Lessons Following Loss - WVU Football, WVU Basketball, News - Mountaineer Sports

Huggins Gives Life Lessons Following Loss


Bob Huggins took his time before emerging from the team locker room Saturday night.

With the media waiting patiently to record his thoughts and those of the West Virginia University basketball team, Huggins spoke with his players for half an hour about where they go from here. A sound defeat at the hands of a conference foe lends itself to a speech from the head coach, only this time the subject was a bit different.

"We talked a lot about life in general," said junior guard Juwan Staten. "A lot of things you learn on the basketball court, you take them with you and you apply them to life."

It seemed on this particular night, following an 88-71 setback in which the Mountaineers could never close the gap after a 17-2 run set the tone for Texas in the first half, that resiliency was the topic of discussion in the visitor's locker room.

"We have to be more resilient during the game," Huggins said in his press conference. "Things don't go your way, you don't stop playing, you play harder. I said a lot of things, most of which probably ought to stay in there."

A remark that happened to escape Huggins' lips out on the court, though, could not escape the ears of anyone on court level.

With enough time on the clock that WVU could eat away at the Longhorns' lead, Staten stepped up to the free throw line. As his teammates took their place, Huggins shouted out a question that sounded more like a plea.

"Can you compete?" he asked of his players.

Just three words, but three that carry a lot of weight. The head coach didn't want to see his Mountaineers simply give up because things weren't going their way. That attitude will do no one in gold and blue (or black on that night) any favors in the long term. A young team may be more inclined to back down when faced with a double-digit deficit, but Huggins will not accept that.

All season long, Staten has taken that lesson to heart. Regardless of how the game is going at the time, he knows his job as the point guard and one of the most veteran members of the roster is to keep everyone focused and positive as though any deficit can be overcome.

"I try not to get frustrated during the game," said Staten. "After the game, I may go in the locker room and scream, yell, whatever I've got to do. But I'm the captain of the team, I'm the leader of the team, so I don't ever want them to see me get frustrated.

"After the game, I'm very frustrated."

What frustrates Huggins the most is the lack of effort on defense and on the glass. He says those two aspects of the game are the only constants that exist in basketball other than knowledge.

You don't know what the other team is going to run or how it'll defend your own offense, nor do you know whether or not either squad will knock down its shots. Guarding and rebounding, Huggins says, are the two that you can control.

"I don't know that we will ever have the five best players in the country on the same team, but that being said, that shouldn't preclude us from having the five guys that play the best," said Huggins.

Those effort plays are what upset the head coach the most and they became a part of his lesson plan following the loss. Staten left the locker room with a better sense of what Huggins expects from the team not only in the game of basketball, but in life.

"It's not always about basketball. Yeah, we're here to play basketball, we're here to play this game, but he's teaching us how to be men and that's the biggest thing," said Staten. "It was just about our approach to the game, how we prepare and everything like that. He wasn't really talking about postseason as much as sticking to the script and doing what we do."

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