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Huggins Says Ahmad's Status Still Up in the Air

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. - Ahead of Saturday afternoon's game at TCU, Bob Huggins provided updates on the status of Esa Amhad and what the final stretch of the season means for the Mountaineers.

Despite handling Texas quite easily on Monday night there still remain a number of questions circulating among West Virginia fans as the team prepares to play its final three games of the season, and most of them aren't directly related to the Mountaineers' performance on the floor. The first one is probably the most pressing for Mountaineer fans - how is the health of 35th year head coach Bob Huggins holding up? Huggins, who seemed less than thrilled to still be answering questions about his late first half fall, downplayed the event and reiterated the fact that he'll be fine.

"I feel good," said Huggins. "(The defibrillator) is a precautionary thing. It doesn't necessarily mean there's something wrong. It's precautionary. It's been in for 15 years or whatever it's been."

So fans should anticipate seeing the same old Huggins taking the court on Saturday and beyond for the Mountaineers, but will they see sophomore forward Esa Ahmad, who is the Mountaineers' second leading scorer? That seems to be the million dollar question and from listening to Huggins it sounded as if Ahmad's status is still up in the air as of Thursday morning.

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"We have had two days off and he's been in to get treated and all of that," said Huggins. "It depends on how he feels. We sit around and talk about it as a staff. (Ahmad's back spasms) are something you don't want to have continue to linger and I think we all worry about sitting on a plane for three hours and then getting to Fort Worth to play a game and riding a bus for three hours or three and a half hours. If he's not 100 percent ready to go it doesn't do the team any justice. It really just depends on what the medical staff says and how he feels."

The prevailing hope is that Ahmad returns sooner than later, because the Mountaineers are in contention with Iowa State and Baylor to finish in second place of the Big 12 standings. While the Mountaineers would have liked to break Kansas's 12 (now 13) year streak of regular season Big 12 titles, a second place finish still means something as it guarantees the Mountaineers a first day bye and keeps the No.3 ranked Jayhawks away until the conference championship game. It's fitting that two of the Mountaineers' final three games come against Baylor and Iowa State, but Huggins gave a heavy dose of coach speak when asked about the direct importance of those two contests as the season winds down.

"It's not any more important than the other 15 (Big 12) games that we played," said Huggins. "You look back on it and you would like to have some of those back but you can't get them back. Obviously they're important but they're not any more important than the other 15 conference games that we have played to this point."

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