Work Ethic is Key to Success as History Shows
The 2019-20 West Virginia men's basketball season has been a whirlwind. The teams started off with an 11-1 record and at one point, was knocking on the door of a top-ten AP ranking. Now, the Mountaineers find themselves in a bit of trouble as they have struggled in Big 12 play (7-8) and have only one league road win on the season (Oklahoma State).
Despite all of the recent troubles plaguing the Mountaineers, one thing is for certain - it is much better than what the team endured just a short year ago. The 2018-19 club was faced with a tough task of filling the void left behind by Jevon Carter and Daxter Miles Jr. With young and inexperienced guard play, West Virginia struggled and struggled big time. Egos and poor work ethic led to a 15-21 season, marking just the second losing season under Bob Huggins during his tenure in Morgantown.
The biggest concern throughout this year is the Mountaineers ability to make shots, especially open shots. For some reason, they have not been able to find the bottom of the net consistently and are even missing two foot bunnies at the rim.
There's been a lot of blame being thrown in the direction of Huggins and I can't say that some of the decisions that have been made aren't questionable, but he is not the reason that the team has plummeted down the Big 12 standings. According to Huggins, "this isn't the same team" and he also continues to echo the lack of work that has been put in outside of practices. Guys that don't put in the work and understand what it takes to win in the Big 12 often lose their spot in the rotation.
This isn't saying that anyone on the roster will be "booted" but if there are guys that aren't putting in the work, they won't make it very far. Last season, West Virginia had six players transfer out of the program. Each one had different reasons, but it goes to show that Huggins knows what he's doing. Below is an update of how each of the six is currently doing at their respective schools.
Lamont West (Missouri State)
2018-19 WVU Stats: 37.9% FG, 33% 3FG, 78% FT, 11.1 PPG, 4.1 RPG, 0.8 APG
2019-20 MSU Stats: 41.7% FG, 32% 3FG, 91.8% FT, 9.1 PPG, 3.8 RPG, 0.6 APG
James "Beetle" Bolden (Alabama)
2018-19 WVU Stats: 40.9% FG, 34.9% 3FG, 82% FT, 12.2 PPG, 2.6 RPG, 2.5 APG
2019-20 ALA Stats: 33.9% FG, 33% 3FG, 82.4% FT, 8.2 PPG, 2.3 RPG, 1.3 APG
Wesley Harris (Tennessee State)
2018-19 WVU Stats: 38.4% FG, 32.3% 3FG, 69.1% FT, 7.9 PPG, 4.5 RPG, 0.8 APG
2019-20 TSU Stats: 49.1% FG, 36.3% 3FG, 78.3% FT, 11.5 PPG, 6.1 RPG, 1.3 APG
Andrew Gordon (Louisiana Tech)
2018-19 WVU Stats: 42.3% FG, N/A 3FG, 56.7% FT, 2.3 PPG, 1.7 RPG, 0.1 APG
2019-20 LT Stats: 61.4% FG, N/A 3FG, 47.8% FT, 4.3 PPG, 3.2 RPG, 0.2 APG
Trey Doomes (Chattanooga)
2018-19 WVU Stats: 38.9% FG, N/A 3FG, 66.7% FT, 2.2 PPG, 0.9 RPG, 0.2 APG
2019-20 CHAT Stats: 55.4% FG, 0% 3FG, 56.3% FT, 3.2 PPG, 2.7 RPG, 1.1 APG
Taevon Horton (Missouri State-West Plains)
2018-19 WVU Stats: 40% FG, 14.3% 3FG, 50% FT, 0.9 PPG, 0,3 RPG, 0.3 APG
2019-20 MSWP Stats: 43.3% FG, 37% 3FG, 77.6% FT, 12.9 PPG, 1.5 APG
As you can see, five of the six went down a "level", with the only one remaining in the Power Five being Beetle Bolden. None of these guys are tearing it up, even at a conceivably "lower level" of competition.
Huggins has always been the same person and coach and has never changed how hard he coaches. Every coach in the country coaches their players hard and uses different ways to motivate them. So no, he did not kill their confidence, this is a matter of the players not getting into the gym.
He is not "stuck in his old ways". Just two years ago, Huggins had this team playing for their third straight Big 12 championship and made it to the Sweet 16 for the third time in four years. He hasn't changed his style since then, it's about the players buying in and understanding the amount of work it takes to be a successful college basketball player.
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