We are officially three weeks away from the start of college basketball as Bob Huggins and the West Virginia Mountaineers will tipoff the new season against the Texas A&M Aggies in the Bad Boy Mowers Crossover Classic in South Dakota.
Looking at the Mountaineers' roster from top to bottom, it's hard to argue that many teams in the country are going to be able to match the depth that this team has. They have multiple guards that can facilitate the ball (Jordan McCabe, Miles McBride, Kedrian Johnson), multiple guards that can really shoot it (Taz Sherman, Sean McNeil, several bigs who can just dominate in the paint (Oscar Tshiebwe, Derek Culver, Gabe Osabuohien, Isaiah Cottrell), and very long, athletic wings (Emmitt Matthews Jr., Taj Thweatt, Jalen Bridges).
In a recent interview with Jon Rothstein of CBS Sports, head coach Bob Huggins discussed at length how much confidence he has in this year's group making a serious run in March.
"I think we've got a chance. I thought that at the end of last year we were playing really well, we were really looking forward to playing the conference tournament and the NCAA Tournament after that and then we all know what happened."
Huggins went on to say that this year's roster isn't just talented, but may be the best group since the team made a run to the Final Four ten years ago.
"This is the best roster we've had since 2010, there's absolutely no doubt," Huggins said. "We got more guys that can make shots, we've got athleticism, we've got size, this as good of a group as we've had since 2010. I worry about doing the best for my team. I worry about doing the best I possibly can for this administration and the best I possibly can for this university, I love this university. This university has been great to me. There's nothing that I would want to do more than to win a national championship for the people in this state. It would mean so much to the people in this state. When Jerrod Calhoun was here as an assistant he said what we need to do Huggs is win a national championship, get a bus and just travel around the state with the national championship trophy, what a great deal that would be. Just go small town to small town and watch the people, just the exuberance they would have, the grin on their face from ear to ear and probably a lot of tears in their eyes. This little state that gets picked on a whole lot has gone on and been the best in the United States."
Year after year, Huggins pieces together a solid roster which makes you think they always have a chance to make their run, but for some reason, this year seems different. He seems confident, relaxed, not as stressed, and it's all because he trusts his players. This has been a team that he has repeatedly stated gets along extremely well and may just be one of the most tight-knit groups he's had. This is all a recipe to a winning formula.
"They've been great. I tell you, from a standpoint of coming in enthusiastic, from a standpoint of asking intelligent questions, they've been terrific. The older guys have been great for the young guys, they've really taken them under their wing and really tried to help them. This has been as enjoyable of a couple weeks of preseason that I can remember in quite some time."
Everyone knows of the two behemoths underneath in Oscar Tshiebwe and Derek Culver, but not enough love gets shown to now sophomore guard Miles "Deuce" McBride. As a true freshman last season, McBride averaged 9.5 points, 1.8 assists, 2.4 rebounds, and 22.2 minutes per contest. But the most telling stat is that he was 2nd on the team in double-figure games with 16 - coming off the bench. Every team that wants to have a shot at winning a national title has to have that one guy that can knock down big shot after big shot, McBride could very well be that guy.
"Deuce is a great competitor. Deuce is a guy who would have been a five-star football recruit had he not broken his ankle. He's a tough kid, he's from a great family that really brought him up the right way so he's a wonderful kid to be around. He's just got that edge, he's got that competitive edge that makes people special. He's in the gym constantly, he continues to work on his game and continues to get better."
Huggins also told reporters last month that he is someone the folks at the NBA are keeping close tabs on.
"I think Deuce has improved tremendously. I think he's really studied being a point guard and being able to get other people involved, but at the same time he is probably our best guy at creating his own shot. I can tell you this: from a standpoint of calls and interest from people at the next level, he's the first name out of their mouth which I know shocks some of you, but that's the first name out of their mouth."
West Virginia is still seeking it's first men's basketball national title in school history and how fitting would it be for Bob Huggins to be the one to be able to deliver that for the fanbase? He and the Mountaineers will begin their quest three weeks from this Wednesday.
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