Three Keys for a Final Four Run in 2020-21
Anthony G. Halkias
After missing out on the NCAA tournament in 2018-19, West Virginia head coach Huggins made sure that his team wouldn't face the fate of the year prior. Unfortunately, COVID-19 played lockdown defense and kept, not just West Virginia, but all 347 teams from this years NCAA tournament.
While this years team faced a fair amount of lows, there were certainly several highs as well. Among some of them, a 1-6 losing skid, an upset verse No. 2 ranked Ohio State and a much needed momentum win over No. 4 Baylor in Morgantown. The 2020-21 Mountaineers' were vulnerable come March, but also a talented team that commanded some sort of respect. While a Final Four run may, or may not have been, in the vision of Mountaineer fans, it was entirely feasible.
Looking onward, what are three things that this year's Mountaineer team must implement to guarantee a Final Four run in 2020-21.
Find balance on both ends of the floor
The 2019-20 Mountaineers will be remembered as a team dripping in potential. At times, Huggins' team looked as if they could be a legit national title contender. That was when the shots were falling at a higher clip. You see, West Virginia's defense ranked 8th in the nation. Not bad right? Hang on, on the offensive side, the Mountaineers ranked 191st. Now, it doesn't take Albert Einstein to comprehend just how much of a discrepancy there is between those two stats.
Going into next season, Bob Huggins and company must prioritize a way to get a better balance on both sides of the floor. Doing that could be the difference between a first round exit or hanging a banner.
Use experience as the advantage
From the moment this team first played Buffalo in Morgantown, the talent level was evident. Even in some brutal losses, the Mountaineers were always a team to keep tabs on. Back in 2018-19, Bob Huggins had several talented players on his roster, just not the experience. Fast forward, 2020-21 is the year that those boys turn to men. Emmitt Matthews is the biggest question mark right now. He's so talented but has a tendency to disappear at times. The 2020-21 campaign won't have much of that as I fully anticipate Matthews to be one of many that step up and become captain type leaders.
Dominance around the rim
Assuming that Tshiebwe and Culver return to form, the college basketball world will be on notice. Now, let's assume that the two come back much more fundamentally sound and Huggins creates plays to get them more looks around the rim. Now, that would be a nightmare for any opponent.
This is bar none the most crucial area of focus for Huggins and West Virginia this off-season. If he can figure out a way to utilize these two guys in the paint and around the rim, the Mountaineers can be the best team in college basketball next season. Not even exaggerating, he got the bare minimum out of the two this season, and they still were two dominate forces in their conference. Now, just imagine if they were the focal points of the offense. This would mean that the shots can afford to be missed from outside, as long as the big men are getting those inside looks that they will need.