MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — West Virginia men’s basketball head coach Bob Huggins virtually met with members of the media Monday afternoon. His team, coming off a fifth-straight loss on Saturday, now turns its attention to No. 14 TCU.
But before fully turning their attention to the Horned Frogs, the Mountaineers had to get home, which proved more difficult than expected.
Here are some of the biggest takeaways from Huggins’ latest media session.
Return travel difficulties
West Virginia’s contest against Oklahoma ended just after 2:15 p.m. ET on Saturday. According to head coach Bob Huggins, the team did not return to Morgantown until roughly 12 hours later.
“One of the indicators in (the plane) went bad,” said Huggins who said he didn’t fully understand the purpose of the indicator or how crucial it was. This issue was discovered before the flight took off.
The Mountaineers, who tipped off at 11 a.m. local time in Norman, were then forced to wait for a replacement part to arrive.
“They had to find one of those, they had to make sure it was in working order, and then it flew from somewhere to somewhere to somewhere else to finally got back with us,” said Huggins. “And then of course you have to put it in the plane, make sure it’s in working order with the plane, and so we didn’t get back until 2 o’clock in the morning.”
In other words, it was a very long day for the team.
Opportunities and crucial moments
Four of West Virginia’s five losses in conference play have been decided by seven points or fewer. The two most recent defeats have come by five points or fewer.
Missed free throws and shot selection have been pointed to as contributing factors for recent losses, but not taking advantage of chances in key moments has also played a part.
“We haven’t got a lot of breaks, or made a lot of breaks depending on how you look at it,” said Huggins. “We’ve had opportunities for sure.”
In a game like Saturday’s, which was ultimately decided by just one point, one or two plays can largely influence the final score.
“We haven’t made crucial plays the way we need to make crucial plays,” said Huggins.
Asked again about making crucial plays in crucial times: “The question is, are they going to execute what you ask them to execute,” the Bear said, who noted multiple factors impact execution. “There’s a lot going on. And in some instances, you end up with people having the ball that really haven’t been in that position before.”
During his time with the media Monday, Huggins mentioned that he recently spoke with former guard Joe Mazzulla, now the interim head coach of the NBA’s Boston Celtics.
Huggins, in his 41st year as a college basketball head coach, said the younger Mazzulla isn’t asking questions about the coaching profession at this point. Instead, Mazzulla is calling to check up on his former coach and the program he was a part of for five years.
“Joe loves West Virginia, loves the basketball program. And Joe and I have a very good, very close relationship,” said Huggins. “It was more about what’s going on in the program, how do we continue to fix it.”
Mazzulla was at WVU’s Jan. 2 contest at Oklahoma State. He and the Celtics were scheduled to face the Oklahoma City Thunder the following night and were already in town. The former WVU guard sat behind the Mountaineer bench.
“[Mazzulla] was able to take in a lot of things, of which we talked about that will stay between he and I,” said Huggins.
Mazzulla has helped lead Boston to a 32-12 record thus far, which is the best record in the NBA.