Keeping the Faith

His Mountaineers will enter this week's Big 12 Conference tournament on the heels of a six game losing streak, but WVU coach Bob Huggins again insisted Monday that there is still a chance this team could make a bit of noise in Kansas City.

"I'm hoping we play a little bit more consistent," Huggins said. "We just have spells where we kind of don't do anything and get down. Then we've played pretty well in spots. We just have to put that together for an extended period of time. I think we're capable. I think we're capable of playing with just about anyone on a given night. I still think we can make a run."

Huggins didn't need much evidence to flesh out his point concerning inconsistency, as West Virginia's regular season finale against Iowa State on Saturday was a prime example.

The Mountaineers (13-18, 6-12 Big 12) trailed by 27 points with less than 16:00 to play but rallied to within as few as four points before ultimately falling 83-74.

"We went back in the second half against Iowa State to stuff we had done about three weeks or a month ago, and I thought it worked out pretty well for us," Huggins explained. "We got Deniz [Kilicli] isolated a bit more where they had to run help to people, and our spacing was better. So I don't know. We're just going to try to keep winning games, you know? I'm not married to one particular thing [tactically] at this point in time."

Another important lesson from the loss to the Cyclones was that this Mountaineer team has not given up just yet. A reporter on Monday's Big 12 coaches teleconference asked Huggins if players still have the necessary attitude to win games, and the coach indicated he believes they do.

"I think when you get down by 27 in the second half and come back and cut it to four, obviously you still think you can win," Huggins said. "I'm not going to lie -- they haven't been the greatest practice team I've ever had, but they haven't been the worst either. So I think their attitudes are still fine.

"We've played well at times. We just haven't been as consistent as we need to be. We've played, I thought, pretty well in making a run against Iowa State. And we played well in spots against Oklahoma. We've just got to be able to put it together. I think if we can put it together, we're not that far away from being able to beat some pretty good people."

RIFLE REPORTS:

  • Huggins acknowledged that while the second half of the Iowa State game was encouraging, the first half was anything but that, as the Cyclones drilled open 3-pointer after open 3-pointer.

    "They were unbelievable against us in the first half. I think they were 8-for-11 [from beyond the arc] and then missed their last two, so they end up 8-for-13 for the half," Huggins said. "They don't play anybody who can't make shots. They caused us a ton of problems."

  • Some have openly theorized that WVU has struggled at least in part because of the transition from the style of play in the Big East to that of the Big 12, and Huggins indicated he would agree that has factored into the Mountaineers' issues.

    "I'm telling the truth when I say I didn't see it coming," Huggins said. "We had a team that we recruited to play in the Big East, and the style of the play in the Big East is a whole lot different than the style of play in the Big 12.

    "We have some guys, obviously, that didn't play quite as well as what they thought they were going to play or what we thought they were going to play. The travel has been different, and I think that's something we're going to have to find better solutions to. And the officiating is different. So there's a whole lot of things that, going from one league to the other, become an adjustment for you."

  • West Virginia received only two honors when the Big 12 announced its postseason awards on Sunday night with Eron Harris and Deniz Kilicli both being named honorable mention All-Big 12.


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