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September 30, 2013

Back at it

For the first this time preseason West Virginia Head Basketball Coach Bob Huggins met with media members to discuss the upcoming season. Practice starts this afternoon for the Mountaineers, but coming off an offseason where Huggins saw two players graduate, five others leave the program and six newcomers come into the program there are many questions about the roster.

West Virginia will look to rebound from last season with practice beginning today.

Last season's 13-19 campaign was one that was trying for the veteran head coach as he dealt with issues he hadn't encountered up to that point in his career. Things that came easy in the past such as motivating players and getting the most of out of them to play hard every game proved to be a difficult challenge a season ago as West Virginia dealt with multiple deficiencies.

The Mountaineers also had to deal with adjustments in style of play and getting acclimated to a new conference, which also proved to be difficult especially with the way teams in the Big 12 spread the floor.

Huggins also was bothered by his team's lack of resolve on the defensive end, saying they didn't guard with the tenacity they've become accustomed to doing during his tenure.

Still in the off-season, Huggins has noticed a better demeanor for his team this year and a more focused approach.

Newcomers Elijah Macon and Jonathan Holton are the biggest question marks. While Holton is eligible to practice with the team, he isn't eligible to play in games yet. Huggins said it was not a clearinghouse issue, and expects to hear something on the situation sometime before the season and possibly before the end of the week.

As for Macon, he is not eligible to practice yet, which leaves Huggins to believe he will not play in games during the 2013-14 basketball season. But while he hasn't received any indication yet, Huggins doesn't believe he will be able to play for the Mountaineers this season.

But as the head coach has referenced in the past, his wrist injury could keep him out even if he was able to practice.

"Honestly I don't know how much I can get into, I think it would lean that way more than the other way," said Huggins.

As for the other new additions to the program, Huggins feels that they can make an impact right away giving WVU midrange and perimeter shooters with size, something they didn't have last year. And in a finesse league like the Big 12, having more than one or two big men that can do that is valuable.

"The one thing we've really tried to make a conscience effort of is recruit guys who can make shots," said Huggins, "Remi (Dibo) can step out and make shots, Nate (Adrian) can step out and make shots and Devin Williams isn't going to stretch it out to three but he can step out and make shots."

Dibo, Adrian and Williams along with Brandon Watkins gives returning guards Eron Harris and Terry Henderson options when distributing the basketball. Throughout the summer Harris and Henderson have worked with the new recruits Huggins has brought in to help mesh them into the program and spent time over seas playing.

Harris and Henderson who have both improved on their size, have also bettered themselves as leaders during the offseason.

"I think the biggest difference with both of those guys is there physical strength, and their demeanor. They both are so much more confident, they know what they're doing, they know what is expected of them, they're not running around, wondering what they're supposed to do," said Huggins, "And they both have done a really good job of trying to help the younger guys."

West Virginia's preseason practice will run up to November 4th when they take on Fairmont State in an exhibition.

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