There were indicators that WVU hoops coach Bob Huggins would return to his beloved “Press Virginia” style of basketball in 2021-22.
First, you knew he wasn’t thrilled the Mountaineers were No. 224 in scoring defense last season.
Then you saw him signing players like 6-9 shot-blocker Dimon Carrigan, a transfer from Florida International. Consider too he has a defensive specialist like Gabe Osabuohien returning.
Most notably, however, Huggins SAID he was seriously considering returning to “Press Virginia” back in April, just five months ago.
It seems, however, that idea has been put to bed.
Yes, WVU has 15 players to work with this season because of Covid exemptions. That would seem to play into the idea.
But what hasn’t played into the idea are, well, the players, according to Huggins during a Monday press conference.
He spoke of playing a 4-out offense, but when asked about the “Press Virginia” style of defense, he seemed to go in a different direction.
“I haven’t seen a [Jevon Carter],” Huggins said. “In this bunch I don’t see anyone who can guard the ball the way he guarded the ball. Look at what Trae Young has done in the NBA. And he couldn’t do anything with JC. He couldn’t get around him.”
The coach also pointed elsewhere.
“We don’t have a JC; We don’t have a [Sagaba Konate], right? Think about about how many times it was almost like we were better off letting people beat us so Sags could block the shot.”
“Press Virginia,” of course, was very effective for Huggins and WVU. Records of 25-10, 26-9, 28-9 and 26-11, as well as NCAA tournament success, were the results.
Apparently, though, roster numbers alone aren’t enough.
“We don’t have those important guys on the ball,” Huggins said. “You don’t want their guy with the ball able to look around and find open people. And, obviously, you need to protect the rim.
“Personnel has a lot to do with it. Personnel maybe more so than depth, I guess.
“I think the only the only thing maybe — maybe — we could do with 15 guys is, maybe we can wear people down.”
WVU, he said, has enough guards, but “they’re just not JC and they’re not Dax [Miles] for that matter. They don’t have that kind of athleticism.”
So, press the pause button on “Press Virginia.” At least for now.
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Mitch Vingle covered sports in West Virginia for 38 years. Follow Mitch on Twitter at @MitchVingle and be sure to check out the rest of Wheelhouse Creative’s website for your marketing and advertising needs. If interested, call us at 304-905-6005.