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HCS Op-Ed: Bob Huggins’ Case for Coach of the Year

West Virginia has been the surprise of the college basketball season thus far, and that is in huge thanks to the system employed by Bob Huggins, and the players buying into what is being taught. After key players like Remi Deboe and Eron Harris left the team last season, many around Morgantown expected the program to take a step backwards. Instead, the team has jumped several steps ahead, is ranked in the top 25 and looking to throw a wrench into all the preseason Big 12, and college basketball rankings. In addition, there’s no question Bob Huggins deserves to be in the Coach of the Year race, if not leading the pack, with the way WVU has been playing this season.

WVU is currently ranked number 17 in the country and is second in the Big 12. Prior to the season, many pundits expect WVU would finish in the bottom third of the Big 12. Juwan Staten has put up his numbers, and is the leader of this team. But it is the other guys Huggins has playing well that explains why the team is where it is. Players like Devin Williams, Jonathan Holton, and Jevon Carter are exceeding expectations, which has put the Mountaineers near the top of the Big 12 with nearly half the conference schedule complete.

Devin Williams has been an absolute beast in the post for WVU. He’s collected eight or more rebounds in 11 of the 20 games WVU has played this season. He’s second on the team in scoring, with 11.0 points per game, and continues to put in work on the defensive end of the floor.

Jonathan Holton is another reason WVU has been able to play so well this season. He was the team’s second leading scorer and leading rebounder earlier in the season. But, his production has since dropped with the emergence of Devin Williams. Holton is second on the team in rebounds, snagging six per game, and is also putting up 9.4 points per game. Being an undersized power forward has hurt him a bit defensively, but without his production on the boards, and efficiency offensively, there’s no way WVU is in the Top 25 without him.

Freshman guard, Jevon Carter has been an anchor on the perimeter defensively for WVU. He’s averaging 2.1 steals per game, and has 8 games where he’s had at least three steals. Offensively, he’s been able to put in 8.4 points per game, and 1.9 assists per game. He’s been a great spell for Juwan Staten, and has been able to take some of the ball handling duties away from Staten to give him a break offensively, and let him play off the ball in certain situations.

The team still lacks ideal size to compete in the, what is called by many, the deepest conference in the country. But the combination of the full court press system, and players buying in to what Coach Huggins in selling, has WVU near the top of the Big 12 standings, and Huggins as a Big 12, and National Coach of the Year candidate. With better recruiting, and more talent coming through, there is no reason WVU can’t be around the top of the Big 12 for years to come.

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