Morgantown, West Virginia – The West Virginia Mountaineers are a very different team than they were at the beginning of the season.
The Mountaineers were considered a very big, strong, deep team, and they were expected to dominant teams physically in the paint. Led by two of the best big men in the conference, Derek Culver and Oscar Tshiebwe, West Virginia was a team built to overpower its competition with its size and pure athletic ability.
Then sensational freshman Isaiah Cottrell, a 6’10 forward who Bob Huggins called “the most skilled big man on the team”, had a season-ending injury to his leg. Days later, Oscar Tshiebwe, widely considered the most talented player on West Virginia’s roster, left the team for “personal reasons.”
What was once a team that had unlimited potential was now a team searching for an identity. Most teams and coaches would have folded and made excuses. Not Bob Huggins. Not this team.
West Virginia re-invented itself and became one of the best offensive teams in the Big 12 Conference. They became even tighter and more cohesive after the incredible adversity they faced with the losses of Tshiebwe and Cottrell.
And this all has to do with Bob Huggins. He’s a basketball mastermind and he knows how to win. He has proven that he can make the necessary modifications and adjustments to make his team successful.
Huggins is now being mentioned as a potential Big 12 Coach of the Year by college basketball experts and analysts.
According to ESPN’s Myron Medcalf, Huggins is the “top competition” to Baylor’s Scott Drew for the Big 12 Coach of the Year: “It’s cool to watch Huggins adapt at 67 years old, transitioning from his “Press Virginia” days to a balanced group that’s second in offensive efficiency in league play (41 percent from the 3-point line) on KenPom – with a 5-1 record in its past six games entering Thursday’s road game against Baylor.
If we’d told you before the season Oscar Tshiebwe would play only 10 games and Huggins’ squad would still be in second place in the Big 12 – a prestigious position when the No. 1 team hasn’t lost a game in more than a year – you’d probably doubt that reality, but Miles McBride and Derek Culver have helped the squad thrive without the NBA prospect who transferred to Kentucky.”
While Drew’s Baylor Bears have had an outstanding season, Huggins completely transforming his team after they were hit with tremendous adversity makes his work as a coach even more impressive than Drew this season.
Bob Huggins deserves to be the 2021 Big 12 Coach of the Year.