Sorry, had to let you guys squirm just a little longer on our lame attempt at an April Fool’s joke. We would have gone for a bigger laugh, but we don’t have the wit necessary to pull it off.
At 26-10 (11-7), 5th place in the BE, Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tourny (and probably should have been Elite Eight), no one can say WVU had anything but a successful season. So much for transition years when changing styles (I’m looking at you John Beilein, and Rich Rod), Bob Huggins proved you can lay the ground work with 26 wins.
Huggins transformed a good offensive, and bad defensive team into a good defensive and average offensive team. John Beilein might have won as many games, but he certainly would not have won more.
Not to play the ‘what if’ card, but the Mountaineers were 4 points away from winning 30 games (Oklahoma, Georgetown, Pitt, Xavier). It was a great season, with alot of blow out wins, and crushing defeats (sound like football?). If Joe Alexander stays, next year should be even better.
Only WBGV has the exclusive 25314 opinion of how every player did this year for West Virginia.
Cam Thouroghman – Hardly played at all, but probably saved the season with his game changing performance at Providence, and then did the same thing against Duke.
John Flowers – Showed some potential in certain games with his athleticism. Ended up losing his spot in the rotation the last couple games to Cam Thouroghman. Needs to work on his post moves and finishing, as well as hitting the weight room. Looks to have the potential to become a 10-20 minute player next year.
Wellington Smith – What can you say about him. The image of him frantically sprinting across the court to catch up with his man, only to have a game winning 3 drilled in his eye, will be forever etched in my memory (Pitt, Xavier).
With the exception of obvious mental lapses, Smith had a decent season. He played outstanding at the beginning of the year, very poorly in the middle, and above average towards the end.
The transformation to a Huggins player may be hardest for him, as he really has no post up game, and no longer has the green light to shoot. But his blocks were huge throughout the season, and with a summer in the weight room, should only be better and more reliable next year.
Joe Mazzulla – Transformed from a head-down dribbler, who often got stuck once he penetrated, to a game changing player. His basket against St. John’s saved a trip to the Tournament, and he won the Duke game for us.
He makes more mistakes than Darris Nichols, but also makes more things happen. I am excited for him to be starting at point. His FT shooting also vastly improved towards the end of the season.
Jamie Smalligan – Was probably worse than what I expected from him, since he couldn’t even make a 3-pointer, but played solidly in a couple games (first G’town game….there had to be another one). I’ll always remember him waving to the crowd after dunking against UConn, as his head gleamed white in the MSG lights.
Alex Ruoff – Played outstanding the first half of the season, hitting almost 4 threes a game. Struggled mightily in Big East play, which (without an outside threat) was the main reason WVU struggled. Came on strong in the NCAA tourny. He hit the third most 3’s in a season in WVU history.
Seems like he’s been here forever, but he still gets to play next year. Should he continue to shoot well, he could be huge in keeping D’s honest with Joe Alexander. But no one ever accused him of being a good dancer.
Da’Sean Butler – West Virginia’s do-it-all man. Was our best offensive rebounder, besides Nichols and Ruoff, our only other consistent 3-point shooter, and often brought the ball up court against pressure.
Our smoothest player, with his foot work, quick release and ball handling. However, he always seemed to be getting yelled at by Huggins after failed defensive switches.
Although he is the best natural basketball player, he lacks lateral speed and athleticism to play outstanding man to man defense. It is exciting though that after 2 years of averaging double figures, he still has two years left, and will no doubt be a fixture in the starting lineup.
Joe Alexander – Wow. Talk about a transformation. It’s still painfully obvious he should have been red-shirted as a freshman or even sophomore, and that John Beilein was like a painter trying the design a house with Alexander.
#11 finally learned that posting up gave him closer, easier looks, and allowed him to get to the FT line, where he became a stud out of nowhere.
He still takes about 5 terrible shots a game, but now makes up for it by actually taking good shots, and forcing D’s to double-team him. I think he will test the NBA waters, and might even go, but another year with Huggins, could make him a lottery pick.
Huggins would be able to spend more individual time developing his raw skills and making him the man at WVU, rather then sitting on the end of an NBA bench all season. (On the other hand, I hear the NBA pays a little better.)
Darris Nichols – The steady senior’s numbers actually decreased slightly under Huggins, but he was often the rock that held the team together.
He finished his career with almost a 4 to 1 assistant to turnover ratio, and that doesn’t count how many times he gave the ball to someone who was in the right place to make an assist.
Nichols won 99 games in his 4 years in Morgantown, an will always be remembered for his clutch, big plays in big games. He will be sorely missed.
Bob Huggins – Everything we dreamt he could be. Big, loud (suits included), and demanding. After WVU hit 18 3’s against Radford he acted like he was going to strangle somebody, and WVU never really shot the 3 well again all season. He probably cost us the Oklahoma game by not fouling when we were up 3.
But he should he mustard by turning this team into a solid rebounding team, despite no regular player over 6’8. He led WVU to the Sweet 16 and 26 wins in what was supposed to be a transition year. He has a Top 25 recruiting class coming in, and provided Alexander stays, should be a preseason Top 25 team.
His real miracle was turning Joe Alexander from a head-case into a stud. The future looks very bright for the Mountaineers. And should anyone get in his way, there is no doubt Huggy Bear and Don Billy Hahn will eliminate them.
It’s only 4 months until football season.
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