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Huggins' tracksuit garners attention

CHARLESTON, W.Va.--Nobody can argue with WVU coach Bob Huggins' success on the basketball court, but more than a few have questioned his choice of courtside apparel.

Some fans want Huggins to wear his signature black tracksuit at the Final Four game against Duke Saturday night, mainly because they're superstitious.

Others believe the coach should don a coat and tie, as many of his peers would do on such an important occasion.

But there's a near consensus that the coach should not haul out the infamous mustard-colored suit with matching shoes that he wore at a big home game in the 2008-09 season and then mercifully put away.

Charleston tailor Anthony Paranzino makes his living from men's formal wear but says he doesn't want to see Huggins in anything but a tracksuit this weekend.

"I'd love to see him wear a suit, but right now, don't change a thing," he said.

Paranzino said he's very superstitious and worries that Huggins might mess up WVU's winning streak if he were to dress up Saturday night.

Paranzino's worst-case scenario would be Huggins bounding out once again in the mustard garb.

He wore it in his debut season at the Coliseum in a game versus Cincinnati, whose president had fired him. West Virginia was favored, but got blown out 62 to 39. Some fans blamed the suit for the revolting development.

 Paranzino said he's designed suits for Huggins, including a blue-and-gold pinstriped number, but had nothing to do with the infamous mustard ensemble.

"When he wore that suit, my phone lit up like a Christmas tree," he said. "I'm not responsible for that suit. My personal thought on that, I figure that's an inside joke. He was kind of being funny."

On the other hand, Jack Estep of "Estep's the Nu Look" would like to see the coach go for the gold Saturday night.

"I would give him a gold suit if he wants to wear it," said Estep, whose clothing emporium is a longtime Lee Street fixture.

Estep would even throw in a pair of gold or navy blue shoes with a navy tie and pocket square to match.

Store employee James Hairston said Huggins probably wears a 52 long jacket judging by the way the coach looks on TV. If the camera really adds 20 pounds, he'd be a size 50.

James' brother Jonathan, also an Estep's employee, said the Final Four is too important for Huggins to wear a tracksuit.

"We're in the Final Four, man. We're making statements. History's being made," he said.

Meanwhile, "What should Huggs wear to the Final Four?" has been the subject of an online survey at www. this week.

The results, as of Wednesday afternoon:

  • 9 percent for "That guy should TOTALLY rock a new, gold, tailor-made suit."
  • 52 percent for "Are you kidding? Black tracksuit obviously."
  • 39 percent for "The basketball net. Right after he cuts it down." 
  • On MetroNews Talkline Tuesday, host Hoppy Kercheval surveyed his radio audience, with the vast majority opting for black athletic wear. Kercheval suggested that Huggins might let his wife go through his closet and pick out something for him that looks best on TV, such as a light blue shirt and tie, but listeners were having none of it.

    Conversations struck up with Charleston residents downtown Wednesday afternoon showed that some favor a suit, but not a gold one.

    Bruce Walker, general counsel for the West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission, said he cheers for Marshall more than WVU but would like to see Huggins dressed up.

    "I think we should all take up a contribution and buy him a suit. I'll chip in $10," Walker said.

    Charleston physician Jim Caudill, headed for lunch at the Sitar of India on Lee Street, said he agrees.

    "I think he ought to dress up for the Final Four," he said. Caudill said he would support Huggins no matter what outfit he chose, though.

    Julian Isenberg, 30, set up a couple folding tables outside Ellen's Ice Cream on Capitol Street Wednesday, hawking blue and gold Final Four T-shirts to the lunch crowd. He said dressing down for the tournament would help Huggins relax and focus on winning.

     "Jacket and ties are too boring. It's the same thing with every coach," Isenberg said.

    That's how Charleston attorney Carter Zerbe sees it, too.

    "He should wear just exactly what he's been wearing all along. That's who he is," Zerbe said.

    Logan Shrewsbury, a Charleston Catholic High School student returning from lunch with friends Brandon Goolisby and Tommy Trupo, said it might be too risky for Huggins to change uniforms this late in the off-season.

    "Maybe next year after the tournament," he said.

    Discussion of the survey at the Daily Mail's Facebook page also has been spirited.

    Mona Mallory posted the comment, "Anything except that ugly black garb!"

    Amy McCormick remarked that the most important thing Huggy Bear should wear is his game face.

    And Patsy Cameron Glessner cut to the chase: "WHO CARES??? JUST GET A VICTORY!!!!!"

    Contact writer Zack Harold at 304-348-7939 or">



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