Morgantown, West Virginia – Today, West Virginia head coach Bob Huggins, along with seniors Kedrian Johnson, Erik Stevenson and Emmitt Matthews, Jr., met with the media at the Big 12 Conference Media Day.
Huggins, who was recently inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame, spoke glowingly of his current team and took some shots at the players on last year’s team.
“Obviously we’re going to be a lot better,” Huggins said. “We had a bad year (last year). We made some mistakes that were hard to imagine that we could make those sort of mistakes. We were two wins away from playing in the NCAA Tournament and when you throw it to the other team as many times as we threw it to the other team, it’s hard to make up for that.”
Huggins continued: “I like our team. I like what has happened with guys in the portal. I like their attitude. I think our guys have fantastic attitudes. Their work ethic has been really good and it wasn’t so much of that a year ago.”
Huggins added, “I think we’ve gained by subtraction in some regards.”
Last season, Huggins routinely criticized players’ efforts and their desire to show up individually to work on their games in the gym.
The Mountaineers were in last place in the Big 12 Conference last season, finishing 16-17 overall and 4-14 in conference play. West Virginia also lost significant talent from last year’s team with the departures of seniors Taz Sherman, Gabe Osabuohien, Malik Curry, Dimon Carrigan and Pauly Paulicap, as well as talented transfers Jalen Bridges, Isaiah Cottrell and Sean McNeil.
Although Huggins was active in the transfer portal, adding a top ten transfer class, it’s unlikely that this year’s team is anywhere near as talented overall as last year’s team. However, perhaps the newcomers are more “Huggins-type players” who are willing to put their egos aside and be willing to put the team ahead of their own personal accomplishments.
While Huggins certainly has his reasons for criticizing last year’s players, it seems a bit petty to continue to take shots at former players rather than focusing on his current team and the season ahead.