West Virginia has been one of the biggest disappointments in the country this season.
Many believed that, with the addition of three transfers and the return of a solid group of veterans, the Mountaineers would have a chance to at least be competitive in the Big 12. In a season where there is only one really good team in the conference, it was hard not to imagine that Bob Huggins could get this group to hold their own with anyone on any given night.
Except that hasn’t happened.
A disappointing season turned ugly on Saturday, as West Virginia lost by 27 points to Purdue in West Lafayette. That’s embarrassing by any standards, let alone a coach that has won 718 games in his career. Embarrassing enough that Huggins apologized for his team’s effort:
“I want to apologize to our fans, apologize to the people in the state of West Virginia. This is totally unacceptable. This is not what we’re supposed to represent and hopefully they have enough faith in me that I will fix it.”
What’s worse is that Huggins seems to be at a loss with this group, and it’s not because they lack the talent. Because they don’t; there is a reason that West Virginia has been labeled a disappointment. The issue is that Huggins cannot figure out a way to get his players to compete:
“I’ve never in my coaching career not been able to get guys to compete,” Huggins said in his postgame radio show. “We don’t compete. We shoot it terrible. That shouldn’t stop us from guarding, it shouldn’t keep us from rebounding, it sure doesn’t cause you to throw the ball away.”
“I’m going to go recruit, which obviously I really need to do,” Huggins said.
The 6-foot-3 guard averaged 10.3 points per game, while shooting 42 percent from three, as a freshman. He, along with Malcolm Hill and Michael Thorne Jr., is one of three returning players who averaged double figures last season.
This could prove to be a make-or-break year for John Groce, who enters his fifth season at the helm. He guided the Illini to an NCAA Tournament in his first season, but hasn’t been back since.
The key for the Illini is health. Abrams gives them experience and leadership, but it won’t be a surprise if there’s some rust in his game after spending the past two seasons on the sideline. Having a healthy Coleman-Lands will help stabilize the backcourt, while Hill, an all-conference caliber forward, and Thorne anchor the frontcourt.
Like Alkins, Jones was a sought-after scorer. The 6-foot-4 two-guard was rated No. 69 overall in the Class of 2016 by Rivals. He picked Indiana over offers from Cal, Cincinnati, Georgetown and more than a dozen other high-major programs.
Jeter, the 6-foot-10, played in a reserve role as a freshman, averaging 1.9 points and 1.9 rebounds per game last season. He will be part of a loaded frontline that includes heralded freshmen Harry Giles and Marques Bolden, as well as redshirt senior Amile Jefferson, who returns to the lineup following a foot injury.
The greatest player in Auburn program history will honored with a statue outside of the team’s home arena.
The university announced that Charles Barkley, the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Famer, will be the fourth athlete to be given a statue, joining Heisman Trophy winners Bo Jackson, Pat Sullivan and Cam Newton.
“It just means a great deal to me,” Barkley said in a statement. “Being a kid from Alabama, going to Auburn. I think everybody knows what Auburn means to me. It’s going to be pretty cool.”
Barkley, currently working as an analyst for TNT, was the SEC Player of the Year in 1984, as well as a second team All-American. He averaged 14.1 points and 9.6 rebounds per game in 84 appearances for the Tigers.