MORGANTOWN, W.Va. - The most important thing Bob Huggins had to do in the offseason was wave some sort of recruiting magic wand and make his West Virginia men's basketball team more athletic.
"We had some plodders last year," the WVU coach said.
This team does not, which is good news for the Mountaineers, who look to end a two-game losing streak Saturday at Kansas State. They are better this season because they have better basketball players. And yet, Huggins can rattle off a list of Big 12 teams that are still more athletic than his.
Begin, of course, with Oklahoma State and Kansas. They are obvious choices, but they have company.
"I think Texas Tech is more athletic than we are," Huggins said. "Oklahoma. Texas."
Yes, certainly Texas after Monday night's mismatch in which the Mountaineers (10-7, 2-2 Big 12) admitted to being outmanned and bullied while -
"...Baylor," Huggins continued. "Should I keep going?"
No need. Point made, point taken. Yet the list would have been longer last season, Huggins said, if not for who the Mountaineers added to this team. They increased their agility by recruiting freshmen Devin Williams, who has five double-doubles, and Brandon Watkins, who is certainly the most explosive of WVU's big players, and by adding junior college forward Remi Dibo, who, if nothing else, efforts.
Throw in a reborn Juwan Staten with sophomores Eron Harris and Terry Henderson in expanded roles and WVU is more athletic, which is one reason it can shoot and score so much better this season, Monday's performance notwithstanding.
The Mountaineers are No. 29 nationally in points per possession (1.15), a measure of efficiency and effectiveness that Huggins has revealed he treasures.
"We've got more guys who are more capable," Huggins said.
Huggins also recruited freshman forward Elijah Macon and junior college forward Jonathan Holton, though neither is eligible to play this season. They'll delay their contribution until next season, when they'll help Watkins and Williams and the rest of the pack of players who have to work in concert to rebound the ball.