Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

College Sports

May 24, 2014

Huggins speaks out on national trend of players transferring

PRINCETON — Transfers have plagued not only West Virginia University’s men’s basketball team, but squads across the nation.

When Mountaineers men’s coach Bob Huggins was asked about “several” transfers, his response was “Several?”

Recently two more Mountaineers transferred from the program, Eron Harris and Terry Henderson, while Remy Dibo decided to return to his native France to play professionally. Nationwide more than 500 players have changed schools.

“It opens up, you lose two guys, you get two scholarships. It happens,” Huggins said. “I think 520 guys have transferred. I transferred, so it’s hard for me to say it’s not good, but I think it has probably gotten to the point where it might be maybe too much. But we’re going to be fine. We’re going to recruit two other guys and we’re going to be fine.”

West Virginia completed its second season in the Big 12 Conference with not only a better record, but a better travel schedule. Year one in the league saw WVU making nine different trips to the central time zone. At the 2013 Caravan in Princeton, Huggins and athletic director Oliver Luck both commented that WVU would ask the league for a more favorable schedule. West Virginia got its wish.

“They did (comply). (We had) two games before we started school, which was great, two games kind of back-to-back during the year, saved us two trips, which was great,” Huggins said. “You don’t think it’s a whole lot until you get back at 5:00 in the morning, then you start thinking it’s a whole lot harder than everybody thinks it is. Bob Bowlesby, our commissioner, has done a great job in saying ‘they need some help’ and they helped us.”

Southern West Virginia has had a number of basketball players at WVU. Iaeger High’s David Allara and Welch’s Maurice Robinson were teammates of Huggins in the mid-1970s. Currently Chase Connor of Shady Spring is making a name for himself as a walk-on.

“Chase didn’t play for a long time and then he came in and made some big shots against TCU,” Huggins said. “We like Chase a lot. It’s hard for a freshman to come in and make a big impact, but you have to have guys make shots. It’s fortunate we have guys who can create shots and Chase just needs to stand there and make them. We’ve got to get him better defensively, but he’s done a great job for us.”

While travel has been a big issue for WVU since its move to the Big 12, another major concern involves recruiting.

“It has changed pretty dramatically. We’re basically an eastern school. For whatever we think, we are an eastern school,” Huggins said. “Our student body comes from, other than West Virginia, Western Pennsylvania, up and down the east coast. That kind of changed our recruiting areas a little bit.  We are (now) more into Ohio, we are more into the Midwest because of this league. But we still want to recruit New York.”

Since it’s inception in 1979 the Big East Conference had been among the top of basketball leagues in America. Huggins acknowledged the strength of the Mountaineers’ former home, but also pointed out some unknown facts about WVU’s new home.

“I think the Big 12 is probably the most, I don’t know if ‘misunderstood’ is the right word, but they’ve had more first round picks, they’ve had more lottery picks, they’ve had more draft picks than any league in America,” Huggins pointed out. “When you think we’ve got 10 (teams), a lot of people have 16 teams, it’s pretty impressive. We’re trying to sell the fact that this league produces pros.”

— Contact Bob Redd at bredd@bdtonline.com; Twitter @bdtredd

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