Finishing Games

WVU head coach Bob Huggins repeated his belief that his team is "very very close" to being a good squad. However, several factors, including some the coach clearly didn't want to delve into, have kept the Mountaineers from closing out wins that would have put them much higher in the Big East standings.

As West Virginia prepares for Round Two of the Backyard Brawl on Thursday night, all of the focus remained on the Mountaineers themselves, and not on their opponents. That's because the belief is still strong that West Virginia has kicked away chances to win several games – and had opportunities for a couple of others taken from them. Of course, Huggins can't say that directly, but the implied message was still there three days after the Louisville game, in which the Cardinal basketball team tackled much better than its football counterparts.

"You've seen the games," Huggins said in response to a question about what West Virginia has to do in order to finish contests and close out wins.

Of course, nowhere near all the blame can go on the striped shirts. Huggins' team continues to repeat errors it has made all year, including poor reads and decisions on ball screens, bad passing and general scatterbrained play down the stretch. That was somewhat expected from a team coming into the season with just three experienced players, but by this point in the season the hope was that those on the floor would have gained at least some of that know-how.

"There are a log of factors to finishing games," Huggins related. "Obviously, some things have happened that we would like to get back, but you don't get any mulligans. You have to finish games."

For West Virginia to achieve that goal, it will need to handle the ball under pressure, to get it to its veterans (and make sure those veterans are available down the stretch). It will need to make free throws, and not have empty possessions where it doesn't get a shot. Only when it does those things will it be in a position to turn some of these close losses into wins.

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Huggins also reiterated his belief that Kevin Jones should be the league's player of the year, and touched briefly on whether or not WVU's struggles down the stretch will affect that candidacy.

"I think KJ clearly has been the best player in the league," he stated. "When you look at the history of the Big East and only two people have ever led it in scoring and rebounding in the same season, that speaks volumes. But obviously, it would be better if we won."

Jones is currently averaging 20.6 points and 11.2 rebounds per game.


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