WVU basketball: Huggins peeved by effort of team
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. -- What's a team going to look like when a starter doesn't travel with the team, two other starters earn a prolonged seat on the bench and a coach begins to lose patience with the constant misgivings of a key substitute?
It might look like the future for West Virginia.
Following Saturday night's 81-66 loss to No. 3 Michigan, Coach Bob Huggins said changes he made in WVU's seventh straight loss to a ranked opponent were more about getting through to his players than getting through one night against the Wolverines.
"I thought we put some guys in that competed and I thought we took some guys out that wouldn't," he said.
That line came in the midst of a 10-minute postgame press conference in which Huggins put a lot of the blame on the players for WVU's worst start in 14 seasons.
The Mountaineers haven't been 4-5 since December 1998 and that team finished 10-19.
"Let me tell you what those moves were from," he said. "I'm sick of it. I'm sick of watching guys stand around and watching guys not compete and watching guys miss shot after shot after shot and never come early, never stay late and don't even think about coming in on an off day.
"And they're going to tell me they care? I want some guys who care. We've got a great coaching staff. We'll coach them up."
Huggins was particularly peeved about his team's reaction to Tuesday's loss at Duquesne. The Mountaineers were off the next day, but Huggins said several players for what is one of the NCAA's worst shooting teams didn't show up at the practice facility the next day.
"There's no way we would have lost to Duquesne and Kevin Jones wouldn't have been in the gym all day the next day," Huggins said.
WVU started 12-for-18 against Michigan, but then missed 26 of the final 34 shots of the game.
"I don't want to tell you who was in the gym and who wasn't in the gym," Huggins said. "You can probably figure it out. Look at the minutes played. That'll help."
Guard Matt Humphrey didn't play. Guard Aaron Brown played the final two minutes. Guard Gary Browne played 20 minutes, but Huggins was clearly running out of tolerance for the way Browne continues to ignore instructions and instead pick up fouls defending the ball-handler.
Starting guard Jabarie Hinds played eight minutes and was 2-for-5 from the floor and is now shooting 35.8 percent.
Forward Deniz Kilicli was scoreless in nine minutes and was benched early in the second half after he badly missed a shot and then watched a loose ball others wanted more.
He's shooting 39.4 percent and has 11 points and four baskets the past three games.
"Deniz hasn't finished anything around the rim," Huggins said. "We're not playing Deniz for his defensive ability, obviously. We just can't keep doing it and expect to win. We can't gear a lot of what we do around somebody who's not going to finish.
"I love Deniz. I want you to understand that. I love Deniz. He's one of my favorite guys of all time. I love him to death, but I'm not sure I love anybody enough to lose for them. I don't know if I love my wife that much to lose for her."
Kilicli's small showing came on the night WVU played without starting center Aaric Murray, who was left home for an undisclosed, but clearly performance-related reason.
It's the second time Murray has missed time for an apparent disciplinary reason. He sat out the first half of the win against Marist, but was also ejected for leaving the bench in the Marshall game and picked up a technical foul against Duquesne that gave the Dukes a four-point possession when they were down 11 points in the second half.
"I've left guys home that were way, way, way better than Aaric Murray. Way better than Aaric Murray, and I've left them home," Huggins said. "I've sent a couple guys home when we got there that were way, way, way better than Aaric Murray."
It would appear Murray's future is up to him and how he responds before Wednesday's 7 p.m. home game against Oakland (3-7).
"Did we miss him?" Huggins said. "I don't think we did. If he doesn't do right in the future, we won't miss him in the future, either. I'll be sad he's gone, but we're not going to miss him. We're going to do things right and that goes for all of them."
Huggins played freshmen Terry Henderson (36) and Eron Harris (21) career-high minutes. Henderson responded with a career-high 23 points and Harris added 10 and two steals. To compensate in the post, Huggins played freshman forward Volodymyr Gerun eight minutes in his collegiate debut. He scored two points.
Huggins insisted the maneuvers were not for show. Upset that he hadn't seen this team play with his personality, he made what he felt were necessary changes against Michigan.
"I want to play guys who want to play," he said. "I want to play guys who want to get better. I want to play guys who really care. People say, 'Oh, he's a nice a kid.' Well, there's a lot of those in the library and we ain't playing with them."
Contact sportswriter Mike Casazza at firstname.lastname@example.org or 304-319-1142. His blog is at blogs.dailymail.com/wvu.