Big East

Men’s Hoop Summer Notebook

June 29, 2016

West Virginia’s Bob Huggins spent eight minutes of his Wednesday morning participating on the summer Big 12 Conference coaches’ teleconference.

Of the five questions Huggins answered today, only one pertained to his current team, which returns seven significant contributors from a squad that won 26 games and finished second to Kansas in last spring’s Phillips 66 Big 12 Championship in Kansas City.

That one question concerned 6-foot-9-inch, 240-pound junior forward Elijah Macon and how he will fill in as Devin Williams’ replacement at power forward. Williams recently signed a rookie free agent contract with the Milwaukee Bucks after choosing to leave school a year early.

“Elijah is probably a little bit more offensive minded than Devin was,” Huggins said. “Obviously, a rebounding guy like Devin doesn’t come around that often. Those guys are rare that can rebound it the way Devin did, but I’m really happy with Elijah’s attitude and the way he’s preparing for this coming season.”

Huggins was asked a couple of questions about the three new coaches coming into the league this year, and one question about the tragic flooding that occurred in the southern part of the state last week.

* Regarding last Thursday’s flooding that claimed 23 lives and more than a thousand homes in Greenbrier, Kanawha, Jackson and Ohio counties, “The wonderful thing about the state of West Virginia is everybody gets involved,” Huggins said. “The supplies people have sent down there are filling up high school gymnasiums. The problem is how do you replace a home? There was a guy who lost everything. His house is gone and he was in another town yesterday helping those people clean up. I think that says, really, what our state is about. We have unbelievable people in our state and unbelievable survivors here. Our state has gone through a lot here in the last few years, and people just continue to respond.”

* On the three new coaches coming into the league – TCU’s Jamie Dixon, Oklahoma State’s Brad Underwood and Texas Tech’s Chris Beard, “They can all three really coach,” he said. “I know more about Brad and Jamie. Brad has done an unbelievable job. I think he’s the winningest three-year or four-year coach in the history of college basketball. Jamie did an unbelievable job at Pitt. Nobody likes playing them. They defend so well and have great shot selection and I just got to know Chris a little bit. I talked to Coach (Bob) Knight and Coach Knight thinks the world of him, and when Coach Knight thinks the world of someone they’re pretty good.”

* On giving Underwood his big Division I coaching break at Kansas State in 2007, “We went all the way back to Brad’s Dodge City (Junior College) days,” said Huggins. “I had known Brad for a long, long time and I knew He did a heck of a job coaching and he always had good players.”

* And, on what makes the Big 12 such a difficult basketball conference year in and year out, “There are great coaches,” he said. “Sitting around the table last year, 60 percent of our coaches coached in the Final Four and there wasn’t another league that could say that. And there has been great players.

“When you look at the number of draft picks, first round picks and lottery picks, I believe we have the second most and we only have 10 teams and everybody else has 12, 14 or 16. I think it’s a combination of really good coaching, players, and the atmospheres that you play in there is a very distinct home-court advantage in our league because it’s on campus and the great student involvement everywhere you go, so I think it’s got the total package.”

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