Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

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December 17, 2012

Huggins blasts work habits of some Mountaineer players

NEW YORK — Nothing was kicked around or thrown. Bob Huggins didn’t raise his voice. In fact, nobody would have heard most of his postgame comments if it wasn’t for the microphone.

The remarks the West Virginia coach made in a news conference after the Mountaineers’ 81-66 loss to No. 3 Michigan on Saturday night at the Barclays Center sounded like he had been thinking about the players and their work habits during the game.

“I’m sick of it. I’m sick of watching guys stand around. I’m sick of watching guys not compete,” he said. “I’m sick of watching guys missing shot after shot and then never coming early, never staying late. They don’t think about coming in on an off day. I’ve never had guys like this before. I want some guys that care. If we get some guys that care, we have a great coaching staff that will coach them up. My issue is we haven’t been my team. We haven’t competed.”

Those are some comments usually saved for a closed locker room, but after another disappointing loss, Huggins had had it and he even kept the remarks coming about a player he left home. Starting center Aaric Murray, who is averaging 9.4 points and 7.0 rebounds, didn’t make the trip to New York — a lesson Huggins said he has used before.

“Our guys are going to do it right,” Huggins said. “It’s going to be about we, it’s never going to be about me. I’ve left players that were way, way better than Aaric Murray. We are going to do the right thing. I love this university and we are going to do right and represent it in the right way.”

Huggins never gave any specifics about what Murray did but he was one of four West Virginia players who left the bench during an altercation in the game against Marshall on Dec. 5.

Trey Burke scored a season-best 27 points and Tim Hardaway Jr. matched his season high with 25 for Michigan.

“Both of them surprise me sometimes on what they can do,” Michigan coach John Beilein said. “There’s still some things we can’t teach that they are able to do. Both have the same passion for the game and it shows.”

Burke and Hardaway both had solid all-around games in the backcourt. Burke was 12 of 16 from the field and had eight assists, while Hardaway was 7 of 12 and made half of his eight 3-point attempts.

Burke, the smaller of the two at 6-foot, was effective driving inside.

“It was just a matter of reading the defense,” Burke said. “They were pushing up screens when I came off and I was able to get deep into the paint.”

Beilein wants Hardaway to keep shooting.

“Once he hits the first couple you hope it’s going to continue,” Beilein said. “I see him in practice every day. We want them to take the same shots in games that they make in practice and Tim makes those in practice.”

Michigan led 54-36 on a drive by Burke with 17:04 to play. It looked as if the Wolverines would match their season average of winning every game by an average of 21 points.

West Virginia finally started making some shots and the Mountaineers were able to get within 71-64 on a 3 by Henderson with 4:28 to play.

The rally took its toll on West Virginia and the Wolverines were able to straighten things out and pull away.

“That’s what we do,” Henderson said. “We play that way in practice, even in open gym. That’s who we are.”

The game, part of the Brooklyn Hoops Winter Festival, drew a crowd of 16,514.

“That was a great atmosphere for both teams,” Beilein said. “West Virginia travels well. We travel well. We knew we’d have to meet this kind of challenge. It may not have looked pretty but you can ask any coach and we will all take any win on the road or at a neutral site.”

Beilein was facing the school where he coached for five seasons before taking the Michigan job for the first time.

“My family and I have so many great memories of West Virginia,” Beilein said. “We respect West Virginia so much and that’s what makes it so good.”

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