Friday Feedback

Welcome to the Friday Feedback, which in waiting on the Pat White Apology. Doesn’t that just seem like the next step? Especially from a guy who’s had to apologize for social messages and for social media missteps before?

To review, Pat White went on Facebook Wednesday and chimed in on the gone-viral photo of an Alabama recruit posing in front of a new car. White, who’s never been afraid to poke the state schools for one reason or another, said the car-to-recruits thing happens all the time at Alabama … and that he was offered a Corvette to play for the Crimson Tide.

Singularly, that’s an OK story. It’s one of those things athletes reveal in a moment. It can enlighten. It can add context to a story. And it can become the story. In the middle if May, it’s become the story.

And it’s ridiculous.

Here’s what I know from working through the years he was here: White was recruited by Alabama — he was a superstar in the state —  but never very seriously. Schools were aware baseball was a very real possibility and schools knew White The College Football Player wasn’t interested in playing defense, or anything but quarterback, for that matter.

Did Alabama offer him a car? Well, I’d really like to know, but a passing tale on Facebook doesn’t cut it, which is a shame for White and Alabama.

I know this, too: Nick Saban was at LSU, not Alabama, when White was being recruited. LSU was another SEC school to pursue White and to not offer him a chance he found to be believable to play QB. Nevertheless, Saban was put in a tough and difficult-to-understand position yesterday when he was asked to comment on White’s claim.

Honestly, what’s wrong with that? If you sat me down, explained the background to me and said, “…and now a reporter is going to ask Saban in public in front of cameras what he has to say about this. What do you think he’ll say in reply?” I can assure my guess would have been awfully close to Saban’s reply.

Anyhow, that response is being forced to become part of the summer-long Alabama v. WVU story line because, my goodness, I have no idea why. I get that Saban is going to defend his program, and that a former WVU player has slung a little mud at the program Saban oversees, but, come on, let’s not fabricate an angle here.

Here’s where I become the bad guy, but I’m wired like this and I guess I’m weird in that I want people to understand words can have repercussions and that such incidents have to be examined, but this story needs an ending, or at the very least a subsequent chapter.

White, now in the CFL, has to say, “Hell yes they offered me a car. I retract nothing.” If he’s being honest. He could also be silent, or be made to be silent, but that can also be damning because others are going to try to talk for and about him (and, yes, I understand the irony in my words).

Similarly, does Alabama have to give this all a look, if even ceremonial? Better than the NCAA, right? I don’t know if Alabama did what White said or if a booster lobbying at the behest or for the benefit of Alabama did what White said. I do know there’s almost no purpose or interview the guy who coached running backs at Alabama and didn’t actually recruit White — honestly, what was he going to say except what he said?

But the recruit’s photo, White’s words and Saban’s reply now combine with the perpetual suspicion that certain things happen in certain conferences. It wouldn’t be hard to take a look and say, “We found nothing. Blame Canada.”

Onto the Feedback. As always, comments appear as posted. In other words, appearances matter.

(P.S. WVU added a first-team FCS All-American defensive end this morning. He can play right away and has one year of eligibility.)

SheikYbuti said:

Would whoever the Tier 4 representative is please tell Mr. Luck at the next meeting of the Fan Experience Committee that we, as fans, would like to experience more continuity in the basketball program? Thank you.

I’ll pass that along.

netbros said:

“And it absolutely merits an explanation.”

Darn straight. Something smells to high heaven in the confines of the basketball facility. All the transfers last year… it’s probably safe to say Huggins asked (told) them to leave. But the two (and counting) this year obviously came out of the blue.

I understand not wanting to burn bridges, but it seems odd that none of those who have left are sharing much, either last year or this. I really believe that O. Luck needs to investigate what is going on in the basketball program. Something is horribly, horribly wrong.

Hey, I’m trying. I’ve talked to a lot of people in the last week. One person has agreed to speak on the record. The others won’t talk or don’t respond. I find fault in that, as well. As for Luck, I haven’t spoken to him about this, but I’ve heard he and Huggins have spoken, just generally, and that there won’t be a statement from the A.D. on his thoughts on basketball, similar to what he did for football.

Dblpne said:

What I find ironic, is that the basketball team and the football team, both started the downward spiral when Ollie Luck came to town.

Is that a coincidence or irony? Either way, fill me in on how the A.D. has a hand in this? I’ll listen.

ffejbboc said:

I will bet dollars to donuts that all the top names in the game – Boeheim, Coach K, Izzo, Pitino, Calipari – are tough on their players. They yell at their players. They have high expectations for their players.

Huggins is in the same age group as those guys mentioned above. He has the same pedigree. So why do kids not transfer from those programs at the rate WVU players transfer?

There is something else afoot at the Colesium that nobody can seem to put their finger on. Or that nobody will admit to. Identifying the cancer and surgically removing it is the only thing that will “fix” this.

Good points. My problem with the “It happens everywhere” explanation is this: How does that make it proper. Also, “it” may happen everywhere. “This” does not. I want to be careful here because I’m not trying to get personal with what I say here … but Dave Hickman wrote a column for Thursday’s paper. It was pretty clever. He laid out everything that’s happening at WVU, except the scene he was setting was actually happening at Maryland and the manner in which he transposed and presented things was proof that this is happening at other places. Again, clever. But are we saying Maryland is in a good place right now? That, in essence, is my point here. This isn’t good for WVU.

JP said:

We have 5 new guys coming in!

I didn’t buy that, either. How often has Huggins bemoaned youth and inexperience from freshmen and first-players? He tried hard to spin Macon and his maturity, but this is still a freshman who hasn’t played — and honestly, he’s been dormant a long time now. I just don’t see how it’s markedly different than what WVU has dealt with the past few years.

DanInNJ said:

Won’t repeat the good points that have already been made, but just to add…..I find it troubling that Remi Debo has said (to another coach or whoever Coach Huggins mentioned) that he is going to leave to play pro ball in France yet hasn’t bothered to fill Huggins in on it.

That aside, I still think that Huggins cannot relate to this generation of kids. Towards the end of last year Huggins listed the problems he had with the kids on his team (they stand around in the weight room chatting instead of working out, they don’t make use of the practice court in their free time, etc.). Now we hear about the evils of social media which I think he has a point about to a degree but he seems lost in terms of relating to how kids these days interact and see things. No matter what the issue is, he is not getting through to them. The game hasn’t passed Bob Huggins by but Huggins has not kept up with the times.

I thought the Dibo thing was odd, too, and maybe that it spoke of a disconnect, but there’s a time difference and they have their own schedules that don’t necessarily match up and the whole thing was two or three days old at that time. Now, if they haven’t spoken yet …

jtmountaineer said:

For the record, a Michigan player *is* transferring this year as well. And it’s hard, if not downright irresponsible, to draw conclusions about reasons kids are transferring when none is given publicly. It’s a gross overstatement to say Huggins can’t relate to current players when players like Staten, KJ, Devin Williams all seem perfectly content with their coach and relationship. The former players tweeting their support aren’t forty-eight-year-olds. A generation has not lapsed from the Final Four class. I know I’m in the shrinking minority, but I see transferring players like Harris and Henderson to be closer to the national problem, players who were not recruited out of high school and who, after some success at a program that wouldn’t have been on their radar if they’d had other options, begin to wonder if they might not have a chance with those prettier girls at the dance.

And sure, if their time at WVU were better, more rewarding, insert adjective here, they might not be looking elsewhere for affection. But the truth is that many men in successful marriages still stray.

I won’t pretend the problem isn’t magnified at WVU the past few years. Something greater than the national problem is going on, or rather the national problem is particularly prominent under certain coaches.

Lastly, it’s good to see you back, Mack. We give you the business, but I tend to agree with you at least two thirds of the time.

I’d agree with all of that, and to keep going with Michigan, there’s plenty of PT available there … but Michigan might stink next season. I’ve said this before: A coach’s first priority is to keep his job. I think recruiting is similar. Recruit the kids to campus and keep them on campus. I can’t accept the “different time” we live in as an excuse. You’re not going to get 13 like-minded individuals on a team. You have to juggle personalities and backgrounds and languages and attitudes and the like. There’s a lot to be said about getting kids who buy in, but if this is a “different time” then you have to get in line with the kids, too.

PeterB said:

While Mike has done everyone, media and fans, a service by attempting to set the story straight regarding the statistics, unfortunately it has given Huggins and others in the media cover, in the sense that they have made the story about the statistics.

The important story here is that key players–key starters–continue to depart this program for some reason. Guys who got the rock a lot. Guys who cannot be easily replaced. And with Harris and Henderson in particular, two guys who were clearly going to be at the center of the program for the next two years, no matter what anyone says now that they are gone.

Why? That is not what is happening at other programs. Places where it is are one-and-done type schools that can reload with their next high school all-American. WVU has never been that kind of program.

There’s a lot of rationalization going on based on the weaknesses of those players. But basketball isn’t about finding 5 or 8 or 10 complete players and then throwing them out on the court. It’s about getting a collection of imperfect players to play to their strengths, shore up their weaknesses, and embrace the team concept and their role within that team concept.

Some might say that’s not Huggins basketball, that if you don’t play defense and rebound you won’t see the floor, but who recruited these guys? Who is responsible for teaching them defense and rebounding? To play together as a team?

I don’t expect anyone is going to be able to ask the magical question in a press conference that will get to the bottom of things, and frankly that’s not what press conferences are for. But I’m glad to hear that Mickey, for all of his faults, is at least one who is not willing to accept the explanation at face value. As fans, I think we’d all like to know that the program is in good hands. I don’t think there’s any doubt that Huggins cares, and cares a lot about West Virginia basketball. That’s why he’s beloved, and that’s why he gets the benefit of the doubt. But this is a trend that can’t be ignored, no matter what the statistics.

Bang!

LoganvilleJeff said:

Golfed with an SEC school’s basketball director of operations yesterday and asked him about this. He echoed that this is happening everywhere and then he quoted a telling stat: 72% of division 1 players believe that they’ll play in the NBA. Perhaps Eron and Terry saw reduced minutes coming and realized that their dream of playing in the NBA would be at risk. They’ve been go to players on a mediocre team

In what scenario are they losing PT next season? I can’t buy that as the reason, either. Aaron Brown, Keaton Miles, Voldy Gerun? Yeah. 

lowercase jeff said:

im pro huggins, but im increasingly curious, and have come up with this theory:

at cinci, he was consistently getting top 10 classes. these kids were neither transferring nor graduating, but they were winning and getting arrested. the academic and behavioral reputation of his teams was atrocious.

now, he comes home, to his university. he still faces the same challenges he faced at cinci: “clean” prospects (talented, disciplined) are necessarily considering him, but, perhaps, he has added another challenge: a refusal to accept junk students/people. now, dont get me wrong, the kids coming here are not saints (holton, murray) but the high school kids he recruits seem to be… nice kids. harris, henderson, miles, brown, etc. good, nice, kids. these are not kids in and out of juvie, getting in fights, etc. maybe, when these kids arent as tough, or, at least, arent as used to struggle and discomfort as his cinci kids were. maybe by trying to live up to the WVU standard he has in mind (our grades are excellent, our off court stuff, relatively speaking, is ok), he has placed an obstacle in his way that simply cant be overcome.

if we wont get the blue chips, and wont recruit the dirty chips, we’re left with ok players. beilein is a system guy, he can work with that. huggins isnt, and cant. it seems.

or maybe im way off.

I read this and though it over for several minutes, so I wouldn’t say you’re way off. In fact, I got to thinking about all the times Huggins was critiquing his team and preceded or followed it by saying “…they’re good guys.” There’s probably something to this. In fact, there is. That’s kind of eerie, no?

Clarence Oveur said:

The press conference went pretty much the way I had expected. Huggins deflected a lot of the blame there, which isn’t surprising but I found it problematic. It seemed he went out of his way to shield himself, going so far as to cite facilities as one of the reasons for the mass exodus in the program. I fail to see the correlation between adding luxury suites to the Coliseum and attracting recruits based on the aesthetics of those suites.

Could the suites bring in more revenue and pad the coffers of the AD, thereby giving the program a boost? Sure. Making the arena a little more fan-friendly might help with attendance as well, and that usually means a better atmosphere. However, winning is what will keep fans coming back and what will keep recruits on board. Full stop. You can dress up the barn as much as you like, but what matters is the product on the floor. It hasn’t been good enough. Combine the attrition with the mediocre product and here we are.

To his credit, Huggins did mention that the results from last year weren’t good enough. That’s all well and good, but it would’ve gone a long way if he had said “that’s on me, I have to do a better job”. In fact, I would’ve liked for him to say something along the lines of “yeah, I need to do a better job”. I have a lot of time for people who stand up and accept their portion of the blame (might explain why I’m willing to give Holgorsen some more rope).

Transfers and departures are part of the collegiate athletic landscape these days, no one is debating that. Where the debate changes course is when you have the sort of attrition problem that WVU is experiencing. Even if you blame the players for not “buying in” or being “tough enough” with regard to Huggins’s coaching style, who is ultimately responsible as the man who recruited said players? 13 of 23 total players leaving since the Final Four appearance is completely unacceptable and demands an explanation beyond “transfers are happening everywhere.”

When the man in charge of the program isn’t willing to accept that perhaps he is part of the problem and needs to re-evaluate the way he’s doing things, that goes beyond conviction and becomes stubbornness. I don’t doubt that Huggins is, overall, a good basketball coach. Maybe he is looking inward and trying to figure out what’s wrong despite his public defense of his methods. Common sense would dictate that he’s likely doing exactly that.

All I know is that Huggins is the common denominator at this time. That doesn’t prove a correlation, but it does imply one and in my opinion it’s enough to warrant serious scrutiny of the basketball program in its current state. That means putting Bob Huggins, the man with a lifetime contract and seemingly unquestioned job security, under the microscope.

I thought about this, too. I think people would have thought more of Huggins and his press conference if he singled out players and handed out blame and even if he accepted a lot of blame for himself or his staff. Just imagine if it was all visible and transparent and cathartic. That, I guess, relief or euphoria would last, though only for a finite period. The sound and audio would live forever, and that would be a horrible look for WVU and for Huggins. So, in some regard, I can understand why Huggins didn’t blame players (of course) or himself (slightly less understandable). But could he have taken more ownership? I think so.

The 25314 said:

Mickey Furfari might be deaf and blind (blind, too?), but hearing him roast Huggins was awesome. Everyone else was cowering in fear and Mickey was lighting Huggs up like the 4th of July. I don’t agree with much Mickey says, but dadgum it do I like his style.

I’m not buying the “it happens everywhere” excuse. His $3 mil job is to make sure it doesn’t happen here. And spare me the “the recruits didn’t leave because I never had them in the first place” line. If they never enroll or qualify, that is still his fault.

At the end of the day, results matter, and the results have been terrible. Or maybe results only matter in wrestling these days.

Mickey was great. He deserved a seat in there. Can’t say the same for other people. A few of us were under the impression that was to be a small gathering and probably off the record. It obviously wasn’t and I wasn’t sure we’d get much accomplished. People can be timid around Huggins or in the setting. I thought Mickey set the table. Anyone who was in there and  rolled his eyes at the start probably doesn’t get it.

chocolate covered bacon said:

Lots of valid opinions on this topic and I don’t necessarily disagree.

To me, I believe we found the “reason” Harris, Henderson, and Dibo decided to transfer around the 37:00 and continuing until about the 39:30 mark of that audio above.

Huggins breaks down the positions and the players that remain on the team and states he has five guards, Harris and Henderson would have made seven. That’s seven guys to compete for two starting spots, then five to compete for any remaining minutes of playing time. Dibo was a liability rebounding and on defense. Huggins stated earlier in the audio clip that the team will get longer and be a better rebounding team, thus getting easier shots to make games easier to win.

I believe all three were looking for/expecting guaranteed positions because they were returning players and Huggins wouldn’t commit to that guarantee. Look at this from another angle, how many of us believe that Dibo would have been an integral part of the rotation next year? Then I ask myself in what professional league is Dibo and his talents going to flourish?

With that in mind, name a team in the Big 12, or in the power five, that Henderson and Harris could transfer and start immediately. I’m not trying to run any of the three down, I’m just asking the questions. Do I wish all three would have stayed, yes. Do I believe that Harris and Henderson could have contributed next season, yes. They both seem like good kids and quality young men, that isn’t in question. The amount of playing time each would receive next season is.

Finally, and to me a key ingredient/question, do I believe that all three would have seen a reduced roll/playing time on next season’s team, yes.

Interesting. I find the mixed opinions on the three sort of fascinating. I’m really interested in how people think playing time was a part. No one’s wrong, of course, because we don’t know, but I find we don’t always agree. I happen to think Dibo didn’t want to go through it again — seemed to me he was mystified by his usage at times last season — and found playing for money back home to be a nice option. He’ll get a spot and a salary, if he goes that route. Funny thing is, I think he could have flourished next season. He stood out at times because he had to do things he could not. Had to. He had to guard and rebound. He really couldn’t. Huggins is the patriarch of “Do what you do,” so don’t we have to consider the impact of doing what you can’t? Twisted logic, I know, but if you surround Dibo with Holton and Macon and maybe even Phillip, suddenly he’s just a shooter who finds his spot on the arch and knocks down his step-back on the baseline. He was never going to be a star next season, but I think he could have been a great role player. Harris plainly did not like getting benched and might have flinched at the thought of losing PT, but I have to think he was going to play and score a lot, and I think he could have learned to dribble and drive and score better that way. Could he become a better defender? Rebounder? Ball-handler? Not as easily, but, again, surround him with Phillip and Henderson and Miles and he doesn’t have to do as much of that. The problem there is he’s a cog. He can’t be covered up much like WVU couldn’t hide him last season. Henderson’s the one who I thought could lose PT, but the more I thought about it, the more I saw WVU really missed him late last season and that his guarding and rebounding really helped. I do think he had a front-runner mentality and was good when WVU was rolling, but I think he had decent all-around skills that could grow. He didn’t seem like a guy you had to surround, which was why WVU wasn’t panic-stricken when Harris left. 

hoot said:

I’m just gonna throw this out there for discussion. I happened across an interview
Eron Harris did with the Indy Star, I believe…. He made a statement along these lines when asked about Huggins ..in his system you have to grow up fast, both
physically and mentally.

It has been widely discussed here that Harris and Henderson failed to make progress in the weight room (if they found it), and were less than
enthusiastic about playing defense. Perhaps growing up fast was not on their bucket list.

 Eh, I’d disagree with Henderson. He added 25 or 30 pounds in two years. Even his dad said he was a different kid physically than he was in high school. And remember, Terry Sr. said his son was back over 200 pounds last week, that after the mystery illness knocked him down at the end of the season. Harris? He was slight, but he was chiseled, too. I do think he needed more weight.

ffejbboc said:

Mike,
I think I understand the transfer epidemic, and that the Colesium is slightly outdated and could use some freshening up.

What I would like to know is what about his current crop of assistant coaches? Is Huggins being loyal to a fault? Are those guys adding value behind the scenes? Because all we see is Billy Hahn leaning on the scorer’s table. Fair? Probably not. But I think it’s a fair question to ask. What are they bringing to the table.

Jerrod Calhoun & Jeff Nebauer were young up-and-coming coaches that got other jobs. Are there schools courting Martin, Harrison, Everhart & Hahn? Tennessee State almost hired Harrison, but then somebody backtracked. Maybe there’s a story there.

I also worry more about the Henderson transfer than anyone else. It’s more troubling because Terry was a guy who was all but assured of starting next season. Yet he walked away from it.

Well, Billy Hahn doesn’t really do anything. He’s the director of basketball ops, not an assistant coach. I guess he could offer a better appearance, but I’m not sure what the role is there. As for the other assistants, I really don’t know them too well. The access for basketball is way different than football — and you know how much people whine about football access. I just don’t know Erik Martin and Ron Everhart and Larry Harrison all that well. I’ve talked to Harrison most, rarely ever to Martin and honestly never to Everhart. You think that’s weird. I think that’s normal (and if I’m being honest, Huggins is great to deal with, so I don’t feel like I need to go do the assistants that much, and basketball isn’t as widespread and thus in need of insight from assistants like football). Harrison seems to be getting heat here, but I know he was the guy who was getting NYC kids and no one complained. I think Calhoun would have been great as an assistant, but he got a head coaching job after one season (and Calhoun was the guy who recruited Henderson, and Henderson never played for Calhoun). That brought in Everhart, who Huggins has known forever. Does that staff need new voices? I can’t fairly say, but it nearly happened. Harrison was in the mix late for the head coaching job at Tennessee State (Everhart never had a chance at Marshall…I’m positive that was a favor done for Someone).

Patchy said:

“It’s not the kids we’re bringing in — it’s absolutely not the kids we’re bringing in”

Well, he may be partially right – but it also has to do with those same kids who are hopping departing trains on a frequent, almost expected, basis.

I don’t want to renew the Beilein/Huggs Wars but I am constrained to point out that Huggs’ criticism is almost always of the ‘we tell them what to do and they don’t do it’ variety, whereas Beilein’s players seemed to know what to do in most instances, with success or failure a matter of execution (missed shot) or, in Beilein’s phrase, ‘the bounce of the ball.’

Too many of WVU’s games the past few years have been a pantomime featuring Huggs with incredulous expression and outstretched arms, soon imitated by the player as he is counseled by his teammates on the court or, more often, as he is banished to the bench. As a diversion from another stultifying performance, if you watch closely you might catch 5-6 coaches & players doing ‘The Scarecrow’ move simultaneously. Fun!

I’d agree with that. Beilein’s system had a ton of plays, but was largely just guys playing ball. Huggins doesn’t call plays, which means more of guys playing ball, but it hasn’t clicked for two years. In the 13-19 season, the Mountaineers were terrible passers — and that was when they passed. This past season, WVU still didn’t move the ball very much or very well and that was masked by giving Staten so much control and keeping the ball away from others and keeping the offense out of trouble. You have to be willing and able to pass to play this motion offense.

I love you, Doug! said:

Regarding Huggins’ system: the cut & fill motion offense. Is it hard to learn? I don’t know enough about basketball X’s and O’s to understand if it’s exotic like the Princeton offense, or if it’s pretty standard or if it’s considered “dated,” like the under-center I-formation in football or if it doesn’t ready players for the NBA offense.

Insight would be welcome from those more knowing, please.

In short, you just have to have continuity. You need to know what you’re doing, of course, but you have to know how a teammate is going to react to things the defense presents. There are rule and principles, but a lot of it comes from trusting that what you see is what a teammate sees and how you expect him to react is how he will react. 

Wayward Eer said:

I think that I am like most people in that I want simple, logical reasons for why things are the way they are (our QB play was bad, so our passing game is bad, sorry couldn’t resist) but the program player stability issue just does not lend itself to a singular simplistic answer. In no particular order I think there are a lot of contributing issues here;

-There is no question that there is a transfer epidemic in the major college sports these days. Some of which seem less harmful than others, like graduate, hardship, and JC transfers. For the most part I think that we need to recognize we have been on the plus size of that equation.

-Recruit screening. I think it would be hard to question that the BBall program has done a poor job on that front over the past several years. Whether it is talent, academic, health and/or citizenship evaluation there have been a lot of misses on that front. Who does that fall too, is it solely the HC, other members of the coaching staff or basketball operation, etc…

-Coaching. Maybe this should be included above but it seems like some of the talent just does not match up with the system and that others never seem to grow or in a bigger sense buy into the system. Why is that? Is that solely a HC issue. That is one area that I see the comparisons to a Belien, or heck even a Boeheim being reasonable. Those teams buy into the system year over year.

-Player leadership. It just seems to me that since the Final Four teams and the leadership provided by a Mazzula or Butler, etc.. that we have not had that strong base of internal leadership. These are still kids and without that core of locker room leadership they are going to follow along with the crowd, i.e. “I don’t like it here, they do not appreciate my talent and I going to go somewhere they do. You should get out of here because they are/will do the same to you”. While transfers are a NCAA wide epidemic you see some schools where you will have a run of transfers in the same year, like a Maryland this year also. I think a lot of it has to do with the locker room.

Sorry for the long winded post but this is an issue that is going to take time, and a lot of improvements/changes on everyone’s part in the basketball programs part. To me it will not be a sudden fix, not one without the some pain, but the 1st part of solving any problem is recognizing it and that does not seem to be happening.

The point on leadership is really valuable, I think. WVU just hasn’t had juniors and seniors. Staten has the makeup to be That Guy this season. Sort of like K.J. And Noreen’s work ethic has to be useful. I don’t think Kilicli was at all effective in a leadership role two seasons ago. I think people wanted Matt Humphrey to use his age and experience, but I never heard good things about his presence. So there’s been a void. I used to hear wild stories about practices and accountability and the like the first few years Huggins was here. Not so much lately.

Dr. Love said:

This is overly simplistic, but my guess for the transfer problems at WVU is due to players not responding to Huggins and his demanding coaching style. I would be hard pressed to send my child to play for a guy that has a melt downs on the sideline and publicly embarrasses his players constantly. Holgerson is not any better. I don’t think this is effective leadership. That is all.

That’s fair, and it almost has to be said. He’s not for everyone. Few coaches are. It’s definitely a factor.

overtheSEC said:

If I’m Oliver Luck I say “Listen Bob, make me the bad guy if you have to, but I’d better see some new faces in those first 6 chairs by next season, and the first call needs to be to Rob Fulford to at least see what it would take to get him interested.”

Fulford is available, too, having said he won’t go to Marshall, as was supposed. I have to think he’s itching to get a chance. That said, I have no idea about the strength of the relationship between Huggins and Fulford. If there’s none, or if it isn’t great, then maybe it’s not the best idea. But new blood? That’s a popular opinion lately, but I sense loyal Huggins wants to make it work and thinks it will with this staff.

jtmountaineer said:

I’ll preface this comment by saying no one on this thread has really said anything with which I strongly disagree…

…but all this *could* be utterly irrelevant to the team’s success next year. We lost around half a dozen players at the end of 2012-13, and lo and behold the team went from 13-19 to 17-16. Those players who left then didn’t demonstrate the same talent as Eron and Terry, although our perception of their contribution might be skewed because scoring is often the most noticeable stat, and they could score. It did remain to be seen whether their defensive liabilities would ultimately outweigh their scoring or vice versa.

Would I like them to still be on the team? Yes, and I suspect Hugs would as well. But if the team goes 21-12 next year with Staten named Big 12 first team again, wouldn’t we call that a success? Will we ultimately care who the players on the team are?

Looking only at the last two years, the team is trending upward in wins and losses. That’s as small as a sample gets, but until we have a third consecutive season with which to compare the last two, I don’t think we can say the transfer epidemic has had a negative effect on the on-court product.

That’s fair, too. I’m not sure everyone wants to hear that or agree with that, but it has a place. There’s a chance Huggins has the proper armament to play the way he’s always played up until just recently. But there’s a massive difference, too. WVU didn’t lose a player like Harris OR Henderson after the 2012-13 season. It lost two after the 2013-14 season. 

SheikYbuti said:

Part of the solution may be to start redshirting one or two recruits per year who aren’t expected to be ready to contribute immediately. If they’re diamonds in the rough who have been undervalued, I imagine they would be amenable to a redshirt in exchange for the opportunity to be part of a Power 5 program. Later on, when their stock is on the rise, they will have a lot less flexibility to transfer because sitting out a year would cost them a year of eligibility (particularly if the NCAA decides to do something to tighten the loopholes for supposed hardship cases and for graduate students). Now, to be sure, we don’t want someone to stay who really wants to leave, but such an approach might be just the thing to convince more marginal cases to persevere through the career disillusions and disappointments, perhaps instilling a bit of character along the way.

Not a bad idea — in fact, that’s one reason Beilein liked to redshirt guys — but it’s a super slippery slope. Most kids do not want to redshirt and AAU and high school coaches will poison a school for that. And imagine the rep a coach (like Huggins right now) would get for taking players who aren’t ready to play. Then there are the actual coaches, some who know they don’t have years to play with and want players to produce right now. I guess my point is that all good ideas have pratfalls.

JC said:

What if these recent defections, as well as some of the others previously, are part of the solution. What if Huggs is doing what we all asked for the last year or two….rid the team of players who aren’t buying in; players who won’t play defense; players who aren’t listening; players who are causing issues in the locker took for whatever reason; players who won’t put in the time needed to be successful…..and what if he’s doing so at his own expense, rather than throwing those kids under the bus and harming their chances to latch on somewhere else. I suspect this is part of it, rather than a mass exodus due to Huggs being a harda$$.

If these guys didn’t know what Huggs was like prior to showing up, they’re obviously not paying attention.

Sure, this theory further point to issues Huggs may be having with recruiting, but it also lends further credence to what Mike wrote in today’s column….that coaches need more get to know kids prior to bring them in.

Was anyone sad to see Murray go? Jennings? Miles? Browne? Really? Weren’t we all casting stone at those guys as being problems in the program?

If that’s the solution, I think people would like to hear it, but I think people would also want to know why it’s been the solution for two straight seasons. I get the point, though. 

JPWVURFL said:

You make another excellent point Mr. Casazza. Surely someone could be the Ryan Dorchester of the basketball operations. Who’s the youngest guy on the staff?

Also, at what point does it become stalking? I agree with what you’re saying, though. I mean, if we can search for a recruit and find their arrest record, surely that can too. This is where I see a much more proactive approach with the football staff than the basketball staff… and it all stems from the head coach.

I know it’s comparing two different sports, but they get many more players in football and never seem surprised by much. Whether you like Holgs or not, he’s in tune with Today’s athlete. I’m not sure if Huggs is. Still love him, he’s WV through and through, but sometimes you have to look into that rearview mirror at yourself.

Obviously, it has to be done properly, but I wouldn’t let the process stand in the way of progress. Basketball deals with fewer players and gets far more intimate interactions on visits. That’s another part that puzzles me, too. There shouldn’t be stunners late in the game, but it happens. And it can be prevented. I know WVU football got to know a kid and had the offer out there with the commitment seemingly expected, and then WVU found out about some legal stuff and backed away from it. It’s not impossible. 

smeer said:

And now to the “if you can’t beat them, join them” argument

why not spend more time and energy recruiting released players? obviously, they are maturer (physically at least), there will be plenty of film on them, they will have used up their year of eligibility so the only way to leave the program is to graduate early.

And another thought – with all the money to be had by the power five, maybe it’s time to add Junior Varsity basketball back into the mix.

developing frosh and sophomores get to play right away
frosh and sophs can play on the varsity squad if they have the talent
more coaches – who can work on fundamentals
with the sheer numbers, you now can have attrition that won’t kill your program
game day – especially weekends – can now include a double header for fans

Actually, that’s not the first time I’ve heard about the JV idea lately. It’s interesting because there are different takes. Some have JV because they have really good walk-ons and practice players and even scholarship guys who need some burn. Others fear that elite programs will stockpile talent. I think there are legs to it, but I’m not sure how you attach them to the idea.

jtmountaineer said:

What behavior, social media activity, dietary preferences, or video game affinities do we expect will predict that a player might transfer twenty-four months after they have signed their letter of intent? These were, by all accounts, good kids and decent basketball players.

I’ll put the transfers of Miles, Hinds, Brown, McCune, Forsythe, Jennings, and Murray on Huggs and his staff for misjudging either talent or personality. That’s plenty of players right there. But with Harris, Henderson, and Pepper, the causes seem more nebulous and complex than simple coaching failure. Those three were good kids and talented players whose transfers could not have been, to my mind, foretold by any kind of scrutiny in their high school years.

Incidentally, Pepper had some kind words in defense of Huggs on Twitter last week, which was nice to see.

Again, you can’t let possible obstacles become permanent impediments. But let’s talk about Pepper, who by all accounts is a wonderful kid. But the word was he was a homebody who was extremely introverted. He transferred to Temple to be closer to home and his father. Nothing wrong with that. But say you see similar things in a kid in the future. Would you pull a kid from, say Boston, if he exhibited similar signs? Maybe not. Please, don’t think this is hypothetical. It’s happening in some form already with what teams get to know about kids and video games and what they do on Friday night and how they talk all from Twitter and Facebook. Why not expand it?

anxiouseer97 said:

I find this attention on facilities following the flare up regarding transfers to be somewhat disengenous. I know the Administration is not making a causal connection, but for Huggins to bring it up during his press conference does not sit well with me.

I completely understand, and, honestly, I’d be a little disappointed if people weren’t bothered a little. It seemed like a reach to me. I don’t see how restroom and concession stand improvements mean better recruiting … but I think I see where he was trying to go. We have to remember, too, that it was at the end of a 50-minute deal … and he’d flown to Raleigh and back the day before!

Foul Shot said:

When we went to the Final 4 there were no discussions of updating the Coliseum.So, that would have been no updates in 40 years.When the football team was going bad at the end of the 90′s, the facilities were an issue and Asbestos Ed was a popular term.The play of the team the last two years has made me “vomitorious.”

I think it’s a hint. Forty-four years old. No. 44. Jerry West is throwing money at the thing to expedite the process. (Also, vomitorious!)

glibglub said:

Although it was not written by someone in the althletics dept., it pleases me to think of “hallways (vomitories)” as the flip side of the “stuff (anything)” coin, if you will.

I did.

Mack said:

In theory, if a player gets released from his scholarship, can he change his mind and go back to WVU and play in the upcoming season? (I.e., is there any action that makes anything irrevocable?)

Reconciliation is always possible, unless you’re Rushel Shell. But honestly, coaches move on really fast when this happens. I’d be shocked if Huggins went out of his way like that and left the door open for Terry Jr.

Joe Dryler said:

Long time listener, first time caller (I will attempt to comment within the blog’s value system), and a big Coach Huggins’ fan. I may have liked Belien’s teams better, but Huggins is not only one of my favorite coaches, he is one of my favorite people. But, that being said, he has never made me run on a treadmill. Nevertheless, is there a better ambassador for WVU and WV (and I don’t really care about the sideline antics that are unfortunately the rule and not the exception)? Don’t think so. And I will give him a lot more leeway and time to correct things (then say other head coaches…) because of it.

Anyway, there is no doubt that 12 of 23 or 12 of 16 or 9 of 23 or 9 of 16 is bad. It certainly is a reflection of poor recruiting and poor coach-upping. But as for disharmony in the program, how many have left that Huggins wanted to stay? Harris and Henderson make 2? Maybe Jennings? Would Huggins have flown anywhere for Aaron Brown? So, while I agree these last two transfers are worrisome, I don’t think the data supports yet that Huggins’ runs a Draconian Soviet-Era Tractor factory type program. Hard, sure. Harder than average, probably. But Navy SEAL training hard? Probably Not.

Noted. Please stick around, and please wipe your feet on the mat. 

netbros said:

Mike, excellent followup. This is a prime example why your blog is so popular and attracts thoughtful commenters, unlike some of the knuckleheads that occupy space on many of the other WVU athletics forums.

I’m not one to echo praise — ego is just fine where it is, thank you — but I had to  include this one. I feel like there’s a masthead slogan in there somewhere. Quick, to the Photoshop!

SheikYbuti said:

I’m curious re: the plane that Huggins rode. Did it have a rear-view mirror?

Enjoy the weekend!

15 Responses to “Friday Feedback”

  1. tls6apa says:

    Any whispers on a new wrestling coach? This is really being drug out…

  2. I love you, Doug! says:

    “I’m excited to be apart…”

    [Holding tongue. Holding tongue.]

  3. SheikYbuti says:

    Excellent. When one holds one’s tongue and repeats the phrase aloud, it comes out “I’m excited to be a fart.”

    Thank you for that, ILYD.

  4. I love you, Doug! says:

    Can’t help it, Sheik. Genetic. Hammer, nail.

  5. WVU 79 says:

    Does anyone think that Huggins sticking with the current group of assistants is similiar to Bill Stewart not eliminating the weak links of his coaching staff? If changes are not made the end of Huggins reign may not be pleasant. BTW, I totally agree with SEC.

    overtheSEC said:

    If I’m Oliver Luck I say “Listen Bob, make me the bad guy if you have to, but I’d better see some new faces in those first 6 chairs by next season, and the first call needs to be to Rob Fulford to at least see what it would take to get him interested.”

    (MC)
    Fulford is available, too, having said he won’t go to Marshall, as was supposed. I have to think he’s itching to get a chance. That said, I have no idea about the strength of the relationship between Huggins and Fulford. If there’s none, or if it isn’t great, then maybe it’s not the best idea. But new blood? That’s a popular opinion lately, but I sense loyal Huggins wants to make it work and thinks it will with this staff.

  6. Dann White says:

    Wow!
    Only one quick reference to the quarterback controversy, (if controversy is the right term) in a rather lengthy FF. And this is true at a time when football looms on the horizon.
    This is normally a time we might hear about BB recruiting, even discuss possibilities for who will start next season, but normally salivate at the thought of FB – instead, here we are mired in concern for desertions and unrest in the BB program, the coach’s ability to relate to today’s players, and to beat it all the loudest critic at this point, is a guy who has outlived my tired old ass by thirty years and still makes it out of the house and down the street to put a shaky finger in a (so they say) hall-of-fame coach’s face, then report the news that HE HELPED TO MAKE to a dozen or so papers.
    This is classic West Virginia stuff, shades of A James Manchin and Jessco White (no relation to the commenter) , stuff that simultaneously makes me cringe and laugh, but don’t get me wrong; I did think Mickey made a better case than Mister H.
    I don’t get Oliver either, nothing to say?? about all of this??. Maybe his silence would go down better if we thought something besides remodeling was happening in the Athletic Department, and while I don’t know what he should do – I think it should be incumbent on him to participate in the action.
    Just one other thought; we feel like things have taken a downturn on the win department since Oliver came in, but we do need to consider that we are no longer in the Big East, that conference the that was big only briefly big in the 90s and now, due totally thanks to his maneuvering, we are in the Big 12 which has some pretty BIG hills to climb.
    We may years waiting to climb to the heights of B12 competition, only when everyone; coaches, players, and fans, start pulling in the same direction would we have that opportunity. Even then, we may have less than stellar odds of getting there. C’mon Mountaineers, climb that mountain~

  7. smeer says:

    first I’ve ever seen it – AD department printed a refutation of Mickey’s column on his FOIA.

    wasn’t enough glory for Mickey to wag his finger in HCBH’s face . . .

  8. Parks says:

    Smeer– at some point you have to say enough is enough.

  9. SheikYbuti says:

    In fairness to Mickey, a LOT of the misconceptions he has about FOIA are quite common ones. But, on the other hand, frustrated requestors rarely show their ignorance in public print.

  10. smeer says:

    on a certain level, it would be nice for the local rags to do just a little bit of fact checking before printing the drivel – or offer the other side some column space.

    Mickey’s gonna be Mickey. Guessing the Papers don’t care about truth as much as they care about selling news papers.

  11. I love you, Doug! says:

    Mickey’s a freelancer these days, right? That means he’s got no legal dept. off of which to bounce things.

  12. chocolate covered bacon says:

    ILYD, maybe we should just refer to Mickey from now on as “Freelancer”. There is a certain symmetry to it all.

    Mike, the nice thing about watching/listening to interviews, as opposed to doing the interview, is the ability to rewind. I just got the impression there was a point to Huggins referencing, more than once, the makeup of next year’s team during that 50 minutes. I wasn’t in the room, nor do I belong in the room, just saying.

    As a fan, sometimes it is very frustrating to watch/listen to these interviews and see them go in one direction and not in another, maybe it is just me hearing something that really isn’t there, or as someone else said, misreading the tea leaves.

    Communication is a funny thing, and I got the feeling Huggins wanted to communicate something and never got there. I also feel strongly, had Huggins been in the tier 4 studio, much of the hoopla over that interview would have been much different, the story(s) would have been more accurate from the start. You would have done a much better job from the get go.

  13. Mr M says:

    Good point, CCBS, and certainly one that our fearless leader may well follow-up with, in his clever “conversational style,” with a simple “What else would you like to have said?” approach.

  14. JC says:

    I still don’t see how Huggs saying he needs to a better job one more time would’ve helped anything. He’s repeatedly said it. I, for one, am tired of hearing it. Should he have thrown particular players under the bus for whatever reason led to their departure, giving us all the details we desire? Maybe. But that sure gives a bad look to recruits…..

    If no improvement is shown in the next year or two, ADOL should ease Huggs into retirement. Will that happen? Who knows…..

    Wasn’t his “lifetime” contract structured to have 2016 as his last season, unless he otherwise wanted to continue? Seems like an easy breaking point for all involved if this ships runs aground…..

    Also, its seems to me like a lot of the folks (not just on here) wanting Huggs pushed out and pressuring for changes to be made here or there are the same folks that wanted Staten run out after his first season here…..how’d that work out?

  15. I love you, Doug! says:

    Mickey Furfari: going rogue!