Huggins, Mountaineers Discuss WVU-UMD

COLUMBUS, Ohio -- West Virginia head coach Bob Huggins and Mountaineers players Juwan Staten and Gary Browne discussed the March 22 Maryland-WVU bout at 8:40 p.m. in Nationwide Arena.

COLUMBUS, Ohio -- West Virginia head coach Bob Huggins and Mountaineers players Juwan Staten and Gary Browne discussed the March 22 Maryland-WVU bout at 8:40 p.m. in Nationwide Arena. Here's what they had to say:

Q. Guys, did you get to see Maryland? Did you watch any of their game on TV or did have you seen film? Wondering what your impressions are so far?

JUWAN STATEN: We had a chance to watch them. We stayed and watched half of their game yesterday. We watched some film on them. But they've been on TV a number of times this year. So we've got to see them a couple times.

But they're a great team. They play in a great conference. But we noticed that they like to keep their pace. They play at a pretty nice pace. They don't really like to get out of control. So we want to speed this game up and make it into one of our type of games.

GARY BROWNE: Yeah, I feel like he said it all. But at the same time, we watch them. There's one thing we gotta make sure that we do, we keep the ball away from their guard, Trimble, and that will be the big key for us right there.

Q. Just kind of wondering, I know it's hard to prepare for their guys' full-court pressure on short notice. On the flip side, Maryland seems to have a number of different ball handlers, maybe smaller lineup kind of deal. Just kind of wondering -- and they have some size at the guard position as well. I'm wondering if any of those two factors kind of -- what do you guys think about those factors going into the game?

GARY BROWNE: Like I said, we've got to make sure that Trimble doesn't have the ball. They can all handle the ball but I don't feel like they would be able to handle the ball with our pressure. They feel comfortable dribbling the ball in the perimeter, but I don't think, full court, I don't feel like they are comfortable doing that. So we've got to make sure we keep the ball away from their guard and make other guys make all the decisions.

JUWAN STATEN: We play one way all year. We haven't really changed up how we play for anybody. So why start now? We're just going to turn it into one of our games and that's just the game plan. Q. Juwan, the morning after, how did you feel physically? How was the knee?

JUWAN STATEN: I feel good. Conditioning is a little -- it was a little shaky last night. I was real tired. Kind of hit the bed early. But I feel good today. My knee feels good. It's not a question.

Q. Juwan, you grew up in this state. What is the relationship between Ohio and the game of basketball, and how do you think playing it in this state contributed to your competitiveness to any skills you developed?

JUWAN STATEN: It's a lot of -- it's great basketball in Ohio. From the time I started until the time I left, it was great basketball. It's always a lot of competition. So that's where you get your competitiveness from. And you just learn to bring it every day. I think that's something that started in Dayton. It's a lot of guys that you probably never hear about but a lot of guys that can play pretty good basketball.

I just learned how to compete. You never get a break. It doesn't matter what city you go to in Ohio or who you play against, it's always somebody that's a fierce competitor.

Q. You guys are both seniors. And when Coach Huggins says this year he wants to institute this full-court press type defense here, was there any resistance from you guys? Did you have any thoughts, man, this is so different than what we've done in the past. It could be a lot of wear and tear. Was there any kind of pushback from the players overall or did you just say you know what, we'll welcome this, let's give it a try?

JUWAN STATEN: Well, I think this is a way that we all enjoy playing. We're playing fast. We're turning people over. We're trying to get out in transition. And ultimately we have a great coach and we trust him and we believe in him.

And nobody's going to fight what he's talking about. So from day one he told us this is the way we want to play. With me and Gary being seniors, we wanted to relay that message to the new guys coming in. And that's how it's been from day one.

GARY BROWNE: Yes, he said it all. To be honest with you, we believe in what he stands for and what he said. Whatever he said, if he told us this is what we're going to do we're going to be right behind him.

Q. At one point yesterday the game seemed to be pretty much in hand and then it got tight again. You guys had some turnovers or some botched plays. Going forward, not just the next game but even games after that, those kind of things can come back. Have you gone through that? Have you talked through that or is that just something that you're going to have to live with as a team that's part of your character, for somebody who hasn't seen you play?

GARY BROWNE: We've been through that through the whole season. We've been having the whole game in the first half and then the second half we have a couple of turnovers or we made some silly fouls, and they come back in the game. But one thing we've been doing a great job this year is keep fighting back. We fought back like we did last night. And, yeah, we had a couple of turnovers, but we didn't lose our focus, and we fought. And we finished it.

JUWAN STATEN: Like Gary said, it's a part of the game. You can't always control what's going to happen. But you can always control how hard you play and how hard you compete. So we know that the ball -- we sometimes we're going to turn the ball over. Sometimes we're going to make silly fouls, but as long as we keep competing and playing harder and longer than our opponents, we should have a good outcome.

Q. Regarding one of your assistant coaches, Ron Everhart, I was wondering if it's obvious to you guys how close he and Bob Huggins are, and what if anything he's been able to help you guys with over the past couple of years?

GARY BROWNE: Just like him and the other staff, they do a great job by helping us on and off the court. He always tells us the story of how he rebound for Hugs, so we know how much like he legit, like, love him. He tells us that every time. But, yeah, he does a great job just like the other assistant coaches telling us that stuff. It's special, but he do a great job with that.

JUWAN STATEN: Like Gary said, we've heard stories of them two growing up and how Coach used to rebound for him after games and stuff. That's pretty much it, the extent of that. Coach Hugs is the coach and we listen to him. We listen to all our coaches. So I don't really think it goes any further than that.

Q. Just wanted to talk to you about, I know all season it's been scoring by committee. There hasn't been one guy who has just led the way the whole year. With that being said, Devin Williams seems like he's been a different player since the Big 12 awards came out, wasn't on the first, second or third team. And he's really stepped up his game. Leading scorer yesterday. How important is he to the success of this team and especially establishing a low post presence?

JUWAN STATEN: Dev is very important to our team because he is our low post presence. You can tell by just looking at him. He's built like a Roman god. But just throw the ball in to him and let him work. When he's playing great offense that's great for us because he's always going to be rebound no matter what. When he can step up and score more points, that's great for us because we don't have to turn into such a perimeter-oriented team.

Q. Curious, when you think about the Big 12 struggling at the start of the tournament, with some losses and some high profile losses, did you guys feel any pressure to kind of carry the flag of the conference?

GARY BROWNE: To be honest with you, I mean, in my personal opinion I don't really pay attention to what other people say. We have our goals. We have a small circle. We don't care what other people said out of our circle. We care about what we've got in our circle. Because if you care about that, then let's say at the very beginning of the season nobody had no high expectations for us, so why do we care what's going on after that?

JUWAN STATEN: Yeah, I mean, that just kind of puts a little added motivation, in my opinion. Just to see, we played against all these teams. We know how good they are. And just to see some of them get knocked off early just kind of lit a fire under us, let us know it can't happen to us. I guess we are -- us, Kansas, Oklahoma -- trying to carry the Big 12 flag, but ultimately we feel like we have our own goals, like Gary said. And we're not really worried about that.

Q. Juwan, your first NCAA experience last night. Did it feel different? Was it a normal basketball game in the end or was there more pressure, different atmosphere?

JUWAN STATEN: I would say, I mean, it was a big game but just another game. I like to think that pressure is just something that you put on yourself. So I mean, definitely felt great to play in the game. The atmosphere was crazy.

But after you play in so many games, they become games. It's the only extra, I guess, fear or anything, that's the stuff that you put on yourself. I like to tell myself it's a big game but it's just another game. And that's how I look at every game.

Q. Juwan, starting with you, is it fun to play the style y'all play? Do you understand what I'm saying, the get after it style, what's it like out there when you're in the midst of it?

JUWAN STATEN: It's very fun to play especially when you're fresh. When you get tired it may get a little rough because you can never stop playing hard. But when you're fresh it's a great style to play because it doesn't give you a chance to kind of think about what's going on. You just have to play hard and usually when you are playing as hard as you can good things come from it. So it's a great way to play, especially if you're in shape.

GARY BROWNE: I'm laughing now because I was thinking about the other day, I told Hugs, we were on a radio show. And they asked how we like this style of game. And I told Hugs, why didn't we do it the last three years? And he started laughing and he said something back to me.

But at the same time, I like it. Like he always said, it's hard to play when somebody's in your face 24/7. No one's like that. So I bet no one like playing us, and that's good for us.

Q. Have you all gotten used to being a member of the Big 12? You understand what I'm saying, or do you feel like you're still sort of this satellite campus out here out on the East?

JUWAN STATEN: It's pretty new to us. We've been in the conference for a couple of years. But it's still fairly new. But I think after this season, this past season, I think everybody knows who West Virginia is. I think we're kind of looked at as a stepchild before. But we raised some noise this year. So I think that's pretty much out the door.

GARY BROWNE: No, he said it all. And to be honest with you, when they say West Virginia, they say Bob Huggins and the staff, the coaching staff. So they know what it is. Just the last three years it hasn't been like that. But now we've been doing so far a good job by bringing it back.

Q. When you watch you guys play, Bob is pretty animated on the sidelines, both with the officials and kind of reacting when you guys do stuff. I wonder if you guys notice that during the game and what it's like playing for him? And also curious what do you think of his game day attire, which is a little different than I think most coaches?

JUWAN STATEN: Personally I like it. It's something that I had to get used to, because when I first got here, it was kind of throwing me off. I never been around a coach so animated. But as I've gotten to know him and as I've played for him, it kind of gets me going more. When I first got here I wasn't a player that was really animated. But if you watch me play, I'm always excited. I'm kind of turned into a replica of my coach. So it's something that's grown on me. And I appreciate it.

GARY BROWNE: Yeah, I mean, you see our style of game, right? We gotta be animated. We've got to have a coach like that. And he's doing a great job by doing that. Sometimes we're not animated, he makes sure we are.

Q. What about the attire?

JUWAN STATEN: That's up to him. I like it. Why follow the same tradition as everybody else. Create your own. I like it. Especially the way he coaches. He's going to do a lot of sweating. Why mess up a good suit. (Laughter).

Q. You guys talked a little earlier about being new to the Big 12. But you do have some history, I believe, with Maryland. Can you kind of talk about that and maybe not so much recently, probably after this -- maybe not you as players, but I mean the university has had a lot of history with Maryland.

JUWAN STATEN: Honestly, I don't really -- we haven't been around long enough to really know that tradition between West Virginia and Maryland. We just know that we're fighting for are our life. And we want to win. That's enough for us.

Q. Similar to Maryland this offseason you guys had some turnover. You lose Eron Harris and Terry Henderson, guys that are contributors? What do you do as seniors to regroup your team and get to where you guys have gotten to this point?

JUWAN STATEN: It's a new season, new faces, new expectations. That's something we always talk about. We don't want to live in the past. We're going to deal with the guys we have in front of us. And me and Gary, we have a pretty good relationship with Coach Hugs. We know what he wants. It's on us to relay that message to the new guys from day one and it hasn't been a problem.

Q. One, Maryland, size of guards, and they seem to have more than two, three ball handlers. Wondering how does that affect preparations when it comes to your full-court pressure. And, two, wondering over the years how many Maryland stories have you heard from Billy?

COACH HUGGINS: Let me answer the first one first. Every day. Billy's got more stories, and probably rightfully so. And he's had some of his former teammates come over to some games. So quite a bit. I actually visited Maryland when Billy was a freshman and Billy showed me around. Well, actually I got away from him. But yeah, I've known Billy for a long, long time. We're not going to, at this point in time, change a whole bunch.

Obviously we're going to make adjustments according to what they're trying to do and how they're trying to get us to play. But what are we, 31, 32 games in. I mean, we're not going to change very much.

Q. Bob, somebody else you've known for a long time, Ron Everhart, what's he been able to bring to your staff and being a former head coach for a long time, how does it work with someone who has been sort of used to being the main guy?

COACH HUGGINS: Ronnie fit right in. But you've got to understand I've got three former coaches on my staff. Actually, there's, counting me, there's four. So I've got four guys that have been through getting hired as Division I coach and getting fired as a Division I coach.

So we pretty much run the gamut. But Ronnie has brought great enthusiasm for the game and a great love for West Virginia. Growing up right down the road in Fairmont. He's surrounded by hire and friends. And he understands, I think, as well as anybody how important West Virginia basketball is in our state and how much our state rallies around it.

And I think that's important. I think that's really important, particularly because we have to recruit so many guys from out of our state. And he's been great on the floor. I mean, when you have he and Larry and Billy. And Erik played for me, so Erik's got a good idea what I want done. I've got a great staff. I couldn't imagine having a better staff than what I have.

Q. Can you talk a little bit about how clean you have to be in your style of play going forward? Yesterday you seemed to have the game in hand for a while and then a couple of alley-oops and missed alley-oops, a couple of turnovers, whatever. The players seem to think that that's part of their personality as a team. But again is that something you can continue to do and continue to go forward? Is that some of the things you've got to clean up?

COACH HUGGINS: Well, obviously we don't want to turn it over. But I mean that's going to happen at the pace we play, we're going to turn it over some. But the alley-oop thing, I don't know where it came from. We hadn't done that before. And I think the first one, Wany tried to throw, Jaysean thought Wany was going to lay it in and he stopped running.

But the one or two, whatever it was, were out of character. I don't think you'll see that again. I don't think we have to worry about that. I think I've expressed my opinion strongly enough. Actually may be abrasive, I think that's the word that's been bantered around now. Isn't it a shame in today's world you can't tell the truth? If you tell the truth you're abrasive. If you lie you're charming. (Laughter).

Q. Since you guys have been new to the Big 12, I know you and your staff have tried to reach out to various schools for scheduling purposes. And I'm wondering, was Maryland a school that you guys have talked to, or would you like to see something with Maryland in the future?

COACH HUGGINS: I talked to Gary before Gary retired. And I think Gary was open to it. And I know you and I have discussed this before. But we still have to generate income. So we can't play every game on the road. And so obviously you can't play all homeand- homes. You have to buy some people in and make some money too.

And it's got to be worked into their schedule and worked into our schedule, because, for instance, we just signed a ten-year deal for a homeand- home series that you're aware of. And we're about, I think, to sign another four-year home-andhome series, with another school who is the same kind of proximity.

It's just got to work out, that's all. It's kind of interesting that everybody thinks we've played -- - we've played Maryland 36 or 38 times in the history and two in the last 25 years. And we're asking those two guys and neither one of them are 25 yet. They probably didn't remember anything. I don't remember. I played there -- I was there for four years, and we didn't play Maryland. I think it was way prior when the games were played.

Q. When you go back to October and you think about, I know for a couple of years you wanted to install the full-court press type of system. But the buy-in from the players, was that kind of a hard sale to them? And was there a certain point, maybe a couple of games in, a couple weeks in when you saw, you know what, these guys get it. They're fully committed to this now?

COACH HUGGINS: No, it wasn't a hard sale at all. I learned most of what I know from my dad. And I can remember my dad saying, every year he would say, we have to build our defense from the inside out. Meaning you have to be sound around the basket. You have to be sound in the half court, really the quarter court. And we worked really hard on that. I mean, you could see we have foot speed.

And we've got guys who can run and guys who react pretty well. So we knew we had that. I spent time, talked to a good friend of mine, Kevin Mackey, who I thought was the best pressure defensive coach in the country. And my question was how much do we have to work on, how much time is it going to take? And he said, Hugs you've got -- you get to the mid-line. You guys pressure the ball. You've got people built to run and jump.

And he said I don't think it's going to take all that long. And so we put it in. And I had never played like this. We pressed, at Cincinnati we pressed. And we were probably the best pressing team in the country in '92 and '93. But it was a different kind of press. It was three-quarter court. And different trap areas and those kind of things. So I'm learning. They're learning as we go.

Q. Maryland has three different players that earned all Big Ten honors. I'm curious what you think the key to stopping them and slowing them down is?

COACH HUGGINS: Can you be a little more specific?

Q. So Maryland has Dez Wells, Melo Trimble and Jake Layman, all who averaged more than 12.5 points. Is there a single guy you key on or is there a certain philosophy you have to slow down a team like that?

COACH HUGGINS: I don't think you can key on any one guy. Obviously they bring different things to the table. Dez is probably as good a penetrator as there is in the country. I mean, he does a great job getting the ball to the basket and attacking the rim and putting a lot of pressure on the rim. And I think Melo is terrific in transition. I think that's where he really excels is transition, and getting the game to go at the pace that Turg wants it to go. He's unflappable. And who was the other one?

Q. Jake Layman.

COACH HUGGINS: He can shoot it and he can bounce it. If you can shoot it and you can bounce it. If you can shoot it and bounce it, you're going to be a pretty good offensive player. And he does a great job of they run some clear-outs for him where he can attack the rim. But he's a guy you can't leave open because he makes shots. We can't leave them open. But that kind of goes without saying.

Q. Like you said, your dad -- you didn't say this but your dad is a legendary coach in the state. But I'm wondering, at this stage in the season, is it more about matching intensity as it is physical, because you're not in this tournament unless you're physically gifted to be in it? But I'm just wondering, what is the biggest challenge from one game to the next?

COACH HUGGINS: I'd say if you have to worry about intensity, then you've got problems. I mean, who is not going to be excited to play in the NCAA Tournament? Who is not going to be excited to play against a team the quality of Maryland? I don't see intensity being a problem. I think a lot of it is matchups. It's how you matchup. If a team does some particular things that you're not good at, then that gives them the advantage.

And I was hoping we'd get somebody who just hated to go against the press, and we didn't. But it's been kind of the story of my career. But, no, this time of the year, you prepare as best you possibly can and guys go play. I think the further you go, the more players decide the games.

Q. Speaking of being excited, Daxter is young and seems kind of excitable, and he's playing a game I get the feeling after talking to him he takes a little bit personally. Do you anticipate any need to maybe rein him in a little bit or settle him down? Or do you like that enthusiasm that maybe boils over sometimes?

COACH HUGGINS: He's been that way since he got here. I think to a large degree, because of Dax and John Holton, really probably Jevon and the two seniors, I don't have to go out there and worry about getting anybody jacked up to play. They like to play. They enjoy playing. And Dax really enjoys playing. He just loves basketball. He's like that all the time. He'd be fired up to play whomever.

Q. Sometimes get too --

COACH HUGGINS: Sometimes he commits fouls because he kind of overruns things and stuff. But not really.

Q. I know this is a story you've told before but if you could indulge me and some people who don't follow your team quite as much, but when did you decide to go away from suits on the sidelines and why?

COACH HUGGINS: Well, why, because I'm not a banker. Well, when did it start? I used to dress really nice, by the way. If you all dig up some old pictures, pretty good looking guy. I don't know who we were playing, but I was at Cincinnati. And I went in at halftime and I was soaking wet. I was soaked all through my shirt, my suit coat, pants and everything else. And I told the equipment guy, go get me something to wear and he brought a pullover out. So I put the pullover on.

And I coached the second in the pullover, and my athletic director came in said, you look really good in a pullover. I think that's what coaches should wear. So I got the green light now. So I started wearing a pullover. And that worked out pretty well until I got a new president. And then I found out my athletic director told the president he told me I should wear a suit.

And so I'm at the point in my life now, I'm on the downhill. I've been doing this a long, long time and I'm going to be comfortable, you know. I did wear a suit for a little while this year, just because I don't like people to think they have me figured out. But that's the only reason. But I didn't wear a tie. But I wore a bowtie to the Big 12 press conference. If you come to the Big 12 press conference you never know what's going to happen out there.

Q. I know you said during the season that part of what makes you guys difficult to prepare for is that anybody can step up and score at any given time. There's been numerous guys who have scored in double figures this year. With that being said, Devin he's been great all season but especially since the Big 12 awards came out, wasn't on the first, second, third team, he's really stepped up his game. Is he a guy you could look to as being maybe the No. 1 scoring option moving forward in the tournament?

COACH HUGGINS: I don't know. I think Staten's capable of having a big game. If you look, Jevon Carter has had big games. For that matter, Jaysean Paige has had big games. Jaysean gets 18 against Baylor. I don't know that. And I think that's what makes us hard to prepare for, because I don't -- if I don't know who is going to score, I doubt very seriously if the other coach knows who is going to score.

I think Devin can be a little more consistent than some of those guys because he's such a terrific offensive rebounder, and he scores some goals off the offensive glass, which kind of gives him a little bit more of an advantage in terms of being a little more consistent scoring the ball.

Q. I know you've seen a lot of things change about this basketball tournament -- the conferences, the media landscape over the past couple of years. Last night's last game started at 10:50 ended at 1:06 a.m. Is that too late for people to be playing basketball, for players to be playing basketball?

COACH HUGGINS: Now you've got to remember this, it's all for the betterment of the student-athlete. (Laughter) I've heard that. Yeah, it is. It is. But I mean, what are you going to do? You've got all these games to cram on TV. And it's going to happen. And one game runs over a little bit. Here's what I don't understand. I don't understand in the same bracket how some people are playing on Thursday and some are playing on Friday.

So we win or Maryland wins and you're going to get home probably on Monday. And you turn around and have to leave again on Tuesday to play on Thursday, where the team that you're going to play is playing today, and we're playing late tomorrow, you know what I mean?

That doesn't make much sense to me. I'm not sure who did that scheduling. I'm sure it was TV. Or they had something to do with it. But I'm just -- it just tickles me to death that we're doing this for the student-athletes. It's all for the betterment of the student-athlete.

Q. You've talked about Tarik getting in the gym and getting up a lot of shots. Was there a time recently when the light went off and he realized he had to do that?

COACH HUGGINS: Probably when his playing time went down. Our guys like to play. The one redeeming quality that all of our guys have is that they really like to play. And so when their time starts getting cut because somebody else is playing better, those are the guys you find in the gym more, the guys that are playing less because they want to get back in the rotation and they hear from us all the time. If you want to play more, play better. It's a pretty simple formula.

How do I get more time? Play better. What do I have to do? Make a shot when you're open. Run a ball down, get a rebound. But I mean it's that simple. And to the question I was asked earlier, was it hard to convince the guys to play this way, not at all, because what I said to them was: Here's the deal. We've got 13 guys that can play that are going to play. And I could play most of you, if we play this way. Now, how much you play depends on you.

And the better you play, the more you're going to play, obviously. But you can all play. And we can get everybody in and our five probably not better than most of people's five, but our 10 is probably better than most people's 10. If we can play 10, 11, 12 guys, a lot of times that should be an advantage for us. So that's kind of what we sell. I had the great fortune of spending a lot of time around Jerry Tarkanian. And Tark said, he told his guys, when he had Larry Johnson, he said: Listen, you're all going to get a piece of pie. But there's just one pie. Pie being playing time. There's just one pie. And we're going to split that pie up.

He said now Larry's going to get a bigger piece of the pie than the rest of you all, you understand that, but you're all going to get a piece. And how big a piece you get depends on how much you deserve. And that's kind of what it is. There's 40 minutes. There's 40 minutes times five. And you divide that up according to who deserves the most.

You probably grew up like that, Greg, probably, your mom said Greg's a good kid, he gets half a pie or Greg wasn't very good, he's not getting much pie. But seven kids in the family when I grew up, man, I'm telling you what now, you didn't want to screw around. There was about enough food to go around, that was about it.

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