Morgantown, West Virginia – “Press Virginia” was born out of necessity. When West Virginia entered the Big 12 in 2013, the team struggled to compete in the new league. In the first season in the Big 12, the Mountaineers finished 13-19 and 6-13 in the conference. In 2014, West Virginia went 17-16 and 9-9.
Head Coach Bob Huggins knew that changes would have to be made for the Mountaineers to get his team over the hump and this is how “Press Virginia” started. Huggins was flexible and adapted a full-court press on virtually every possession. Opposing teams were confused and couldn’t handle the pressure for the entire game.
Jevon Carter and Daxter Miles were only Freshmen, but their toughness and competitiveness was already shining through. The team also featured Seniors Juwan Staten and Gary Browne, Juniors Jonathan Holton and Jaysean Paige, and Sophomores Tarik Phillip, Devin Williams and Nathan Adrian.
The “Press Virginia” era featured seasons where the Mountaineers finished 25-10, 26-9, 28-9, 26-11 with four consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances, the most successful period of Huggins’ time in Morgantown.
Now, at 13-7 overall and 2-5 in the Big 12 Conference with five consecutive losses, West Virginia needs a real change to reignite their chances of making the NCAA Tournament.
The return of Press Virginia instantly makes West Virginia dangerous because it’s a defensive strategy that most teams are not prepared for. The Mountaineers are also deep and athletic enough to handle the grind of pressing for an entire game.
While West Virginia’s interior players have struggled this season offensively, Dimon Carrigan and Pauly Paulicap are outstanding defensive presences and shot blockers. Gabe Osabuohien is the absolute perfect defender to lead the chaos from the top of the press, disrupting the in-bounds passer.
Drastic changes are necessary from Huggins in order to be competitive in the Big 12 Conference this season. The Mountaineers are not going to out-shoot, out-rebound or out-pass many remaining teams.
Instead, West Virginia must turn their games into absolute ugly brawls full of chaos, which is something Bob Huggins does better than anyone else.