No Easy Answers

While he made his displeasure with the officials known before being hit with a pair of technical fouls and an ejection from the end of Monday night's 73-62 loss to Connecticut, head coach Bob Huggins said he didn't know what could be done about referees who may be overly fatigued from an intense in-season travel and work schedule.

Asked whether he agreed with UConn coach Jim Calhoun, who said after coming back from a brief hiatus for health reasons that he believed officials worked too many games, Huggins didn't give a straight answer.

But even if it was an issue, the third-year WVU head coach said he didn't know of any easy answer on Thursday's Big East Conference coaches' teleconference.

"(Officials) are independent contractors, so I don't know what anybody is supposed to do," he said. "Everybody has a right to work. You can talk about it all you want to talk about it, but I think when you talk about things, you ought to talk about solutions."

"Now, I'm not knocking coach Calhoun. I've got great respect for him. But they're independent contractors."

"What are you going to do? If you limit the number of games they work in the Big East, they also work in the Big Ten, they work in the Big 12, whatever. Everybody wants good officials. And probably, truth be known, do you want guys you've had 50 or 60 times in your career? Or do you want a guy you've never seen before?"

  • A reporter from Syracuse opined mid-question that Mountaineer forward Kevin Jones might be a candidate for the league's Most Improved Player award. He then asked what the key to the sophomore's consistent play had been this season.

    "He had a great summer in the weight room," Huggins answered. "He came in here at 215 pounds, and I think he started this season somewhere between 245 and 250."

    "He's lost some of that, naturally, as the season has gone on. But I think that's the biggest thing -- he's got so much more strength. He's able to score more ways because of the added strength. And he really worked hard on shooting the ball, and increased his range. He's become a good 3-point shooter."

  • Yet another question from Syracuse came in for the West Virginia coach, this time in reference to Saturday's College GameDay special between the Big East's top two teams -- the Orange (who will have the home-court edge at the Carrier Dome) and Villanova.

    Having had the tough test of playing (and losing to) both already -- and looking ahead to a second match-up with the Wildcats -- Huggins praised both and said that the pace of the game will likely determine the outcome.

    "Syracuse is really hard to score on in the half-court, and Villanova's a terrific transition basketball team," he said. "It probably will come down to which team can make the other play the game they want to play."

    And as for the GameDay experience, which WVU experienced for last year's Senior Day match-up with Louisville, Huggins said that Syracuse fans are in for a treat.

    "It was terrific," he recalled. "The buzz around campus was absolutely terrific. It gives the students really something to look forward to and piques their enthusiasm. It's tremendous for your institution -- the exposure that your institution gets."

    "I think it's going to be a great game."


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