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WVU's style is rooted in Ohio

Friday, March 19, 2010
 

BUFFALO, N.Y. -- Charlie Huggins warned his oldest son not to become a basketball coach.

"I told him to get another career," Charlie Huggins said.

Bob Huggins, who today leads West Virginia against Morgan State in a first-round East Regional game at HSBC Arena, didn't listen.

His father coached, so he coached.

Bob Huggins, who was born in Morgantown, W.V., became the 11th highest scorer in the history of Ohio high school basketball (2,438 points) and won a state championship with his father in 1972. And Charlie, 76, said much of what West Virginia does now is rooted in the way he coached in Ohio.

"People call it a motion offense, but we don't call it that - it's a rule offense," said Charlie, who was inducted into the Ohio High School Basketball Coaches Association Hall of Fame in 1993 resulting from a 20-year career, a 398-74 record and three state titles. "It's set up on the theory you can only be (defended) three different ways -- tight, loose and overplayed - and your reaction is made according to the way you're played."

The elder Huggins said those same offensive principles extend to teaching guards how to post-up and big men to play on the perimeter.

"He has a great mind," Huggins, 56, said of his father. "You could (mess) up something on the opening tip, and there wasn't a timeout for the whole first quarter. At the end of the quarter, you were going to hear about what you (messed) up when they threw the ball up."

Huggins agreed that he has borrowed liberally from his father.

"What we do man-to-man is what he did,' Bob said. "We've thrown some variations in there just to kind of take advantage of what our guys can do. The basic premise of it is what he did. That's my roots. He won (84 percent) of his games. I would be foolish not to do what he did."

What Bob Huggins has done has been nothing short of remarkable. He has 666 career victories and a .735 winning percentage and has guided three teams to the NCAA Tournament a total of 18 times.

Since taking over at West Virginia in 2007, Huggins has transformed the Mountaineers into one of the most physical teams in the country. His legendary Cincinnati squads were the same way.

Huggins' demanding, in-your-face coaching style, which includes making players run on a treadmill if they commit a mistake during practice, has resulted in a defensive mind-set that wears down opponents.

"The treadmill, that's something that nobody really enjoys," senior forward Wellington Smith said. "About 15 mph, and it got escalated from 22 seconds to 44 seconds since we weren't learning our lessons. It's something that I still get on."

Former NBA executive and Hall of Fame player Jerry West, who starred at West Virginia and whose son Jonnie plays for the Mountaineers, said Huggins specializes in coaxing maximum effort from his players.

"When I look at his team this year, they're not a particularly good shooting team, but they reflect him in every way," said West, still the Mountaineers' career scoring leader. "He doesn't ever seem to have the best players in the country in terms of major recruits. But he knows how to recruit players that will do what he wants done.

"He wants a tough, hard-nosed kid who is going to play within the system, somebody who's going to compete every game. That's a trademark of his teams."

Additional Information:

The game

Morgan State (27-9) vs. West Virginia (27-6)

12:15 p.m. today, HSBC Center, Buffalo, N.Y.

TV/radio: KDKA-2, WTRF-7, WTAJ-10; WVAQ-FM (101.9), Mountaineer Sports Network

Favorite: West Virginia by 17 12

Series record: West Virginia leads, 1-0

 

 

 
 


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