basketball Edit

WVU just trying to win some games, figure out personnel down stretch

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For a team that is 10-16 and at the bottom of the Big 12 Conference with only a handful of games left, it’s fair to wonder what's the mindset and driving force for the West Virginia basketball team down the stretch.

Well, it’s really not all that complicated.

“We need to win some games,” head coach Bob Huggins said.

This year has brought about a number of challenges to sort through starting with the injury to Sagaba Konate and trickling down to the on again, off again status with James Bolden as he’s battled a number of off the court ailments as well.

Then came the significant blow of Esa Ahmad and Wesley Harris, two of the players receiving the most minutes on the team, and the Mountaineers are essentially down four-starters from the club that was picked as one of the top teams in the league in the pre-season.

Put all of that together with a team that has dealt with youth and inexperience at various spots on the floor and you get the disappointing results.

“We’ve got to have some guys step up. I think our guy are learning,” Huggins said.

Huggins pointed to his young team, which has essentially been shortened to nine scholarship players, hanging tough with league leader Kansas State into the second half until a run ended their chances.

“Until that 14-0 run that Kansas State put on us but we played well up until that point,” he said.

West Virginia will travel to Baylor this weekend for a 2 p.m. tipoff and will close with a four game stretch that consists of TCU, on the road at Oklahoma, Iowa State and on the road at Oklahoma State. The Mountaineers are currently in last place in the league at 2-11.

Unfamiliar territory for Huggins and his coaches but that is where things currently sit down the stretch run of the season. Now it is about trying to find a way to get some wins. Some of that is figuring out just what his players can handle and how they can adjust to expanded roles.

“It’s a personnel thing and particularly a personnel thing when you lose four starters. We’re trying to figure out who can do what,” Huggins said.

That aspect comes with time as Huggins will need to see which players are ready to take those next steps down the stretch especially because Bolden is not expected back anytime soon and remains banged up.

“We had a good practice yesterday and anticipate another couple good practices,” Huggins said.

West Virginia has been active on the recruiting trail particularly in the pursuit of guards and while Huggins can’t speak specifically about that issue he does know what he wants to find at those spots. Players that can not only get it done on offense, but defensively as well.

“That’s the goal,” he said.

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