Completing the Picture

The hiring of Larry Harrison as the final assistant on the staff of WVU head basketball coach Bob Huggins completed the thread that runs through the entire group – recruiting prowess.

Harrison, who has been an assistant and head coach on the collegiate level since 1984, didn't take long to realize that success in recruiting usually equals success in terms of wins and losses.

"Really, it's what college basketball is all about," Harrison told after a long day of WVU's summer basketball camp. "When I got into coaching, I knew I wanted to coach and teach young men. But the game is all about the players, and that's where recruiting comes in."

There wasn't any one event that helped teach Harrison this fact. But he quickly learned that recruiting top talent is a necessity in keeping a team in competition for wins and championships.

"I'd say I learned it from watching older coaches and listening to what they had to say," said Harrison, who shares many of the coaching views of Huggins. "You pick and choose what you can use, but I pretty much figured out from the start that recruiting the best players, and getting them, was very important."

Harrison followed those tenets in his head coaching stint at Hartford, where he won coach of the year honors in his final season (2005-06). However, he doesn't believe that the move from head coach back to assistant will be a difficult transition.

"In my case, it probably will be a little easier because I have worked with Coach Huggins before," Harrison said. "He has let me act as a head coach in the past in some areas. He delegates a lot, and gives out a lot of responsibility. That makes the comfort level a whole lot higher.

"Now, I might have to hold back a little bit with some of the suggestions or decisions, because I'm not the head guy any more. But Huggs lets us have a lot of responsibility."

Harrison's hiring also completes a nice range of youth and experience on Huggins staff. Assistant Erik Martin should be able to relate to young players well, while Billy Hahn and Harrison have experience on their resumes.

"Erik played for us at Cincinnati, so I think he might be able to see things from a player's standpoint a little bit more, Harrison explained. "Billy and I, on the coaching side, should be able to help more there. I coached with Huggs for a long time, and being on his staff before, I know his stuff, both on offense and defense. In fact, we used a lot of it at Hartford and when I was an assistant at DePaul. Huggs knows what we can do, so as I said before, there's a comfort level there."

Looking at Harrison's resume, it would seem he is familiar with the Big East as well. In addition to assistant coaching stints with the Bearcats and Blue Demons, he also holds degrees from Pittsburgh and South Florida. However, he notes that the new configuration of the league, and the amount of time that has passed since those associations, makes those ties mean less.

"Times have changed in the Big East," he said, noting that the players and coaches are mostly different from when he was in the league.

While Harrison and the rest of the coaches have been busy with interviewing, getting hired, settling in, running camps and recruiting, they have managed to begin work on the upcoming season.

"We've talked some about recruiting and about our style of play," Harrison said. "The coaches have had moments with the players, and have had the chance to evaluate all of them on film. We're doing that as we move along on recruiting and camps. We are figuring out how we are going to compete in the Big East, and make Huggins' style work."

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