MORGANTOWN - It's been a week since West Virginia's basketball team opened its season with the worst loss in Bob Huggins' 31 years as a head coach. The Mountaineers have practiced a few times since and will do so some more before Thursday's opening game at the Old Spice Classic.
The Classic begins with a noon game against Marist in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. Only then can they change the impression they made in the 84-50 loss at Gonzaga.
"I thought we'd be better," Huggins said. "I thought our returning guys would do a better job, but the honest to God truth is we started three of them who haven't played."
The Mountaineers started three transfers - point guard Juwan Staten, shooting guard Matt Humphrey and center Aaric Murray. Staten had one assist, two turnovers and went scoreless on six shots in 34 minutes. Humphrey was 2-for-8 from the floor and missed 6 of 7 3-point attempts. He had five points in 19 minutes. Murray led the team in scoring with 14 points, but he had two dunks in the closing moments.
No one else was much better. Murray (5-for-8) was the only player to shoot better than 50 percent on a night WVU shot 15-for-55 and had 20 turnovers. The Bulldogs had seven steals, 25 points off turnovers and 27 defensive rebounds to WVU's 18 offensive rebounds and generally won the hustle plays by getting to the ball first.
"We have a tendency to watch instead of playing," Huggins said. "We get beat to balls because we don't react. We just watch. We're trying to figure out a way out of it to do a better job guarding."
The 20 turnovers looked worse next to eight assists and many of WVU's shots came outside the structure of the offense.
The Mountaineers didn't do much in transition because of their turnovers and Gonzaga's scores, but Huggins didn't like the way his team played his motion offense when the opportunities were there.
"We'll be a whole lot better at the end of the year obviously because we'll have more guys learning how to pass the ball," Huggins said. "When you put the ball in everyone's hands with as many people as we play, you're betting on a lot of people to make decisions.
"That didn't work out very well for us and we're going to attempt to fix that and put guys more in position to be successful and at the same time continue to work on making the other guys better decision makers."
The motion offense essentially treats everyone as equals and gives the players chances to make passes to people cutting on drives or maneuvering to get open for shots.