SYRACUSE, N.Y. (AP) If only Syracuse had the “Pearl” – on the court instead of in their hearts.
On a day the Orange paid tribute to the late Dwayne “Pearl” Washington, L.J. Peak and Rodney Pryor put a damper on the day, combining for 43 points as Georgetown held off Syracuse 78-71 on Saturday.
Peak had 23 points and 11 rebounds and Pryor added 20 points to key the victory in the renewal of a once-fierce Big East rivalry, which Washington was a big part of.
“Whenever Georgetown wins in the Carrier Dome, it’s a big win for the program,” Hoyas coach John Thompson III said. “This rivalry, these two institutions, when you think about the Big East you think about Pearl, Patrick (Ewing) and Chris Mullin. When you come up here and it’s Pearl weekend, it’s like they need some extra incentive? Without a doubt, he’s one of the pillars of the Big East.”
Syracuse (6-4), which has struggled to form any kind of consistency so far this season, didn’t find much again. Tyler Lydon was the bright spot with a career-high 29 points, missing only 1 of 13 shots, but where Washington once worked his magic, the Orange guards continued to struggle.
John Gillon had 13 points on 4-of-14 shooting in his first start of the season and Frank Howard had four points, four assists and a game-high six turnovers. Andrew White, who has started in the backcourt six times this season, had 12 points on 3-of-11 shooting in 40 minutes.
“We’re just not playing well at the guard spot I don’t think at all,” Orange coach Jim Boeheim said. “We’re making too many mistakes. We’re not getting the ball in the basket from the guard spot. We haven’t in any of our four losses and we’ve got to play better there.”
Georgetown (7-4) has won five straight, the first four coming against teams from the lower echelons of Division I.
The Hoyas matched the largest lead of the game when Jonathan Mullmore drained a 3 to give Georgetown a 67-60 lead with 2:36 left. The Hoyas hung on at the end after Lydon’s follow slam and baseline hook moved the Orange within 69-66 with 64 seconds left.
Georgetown has lived at the free-throw line this year and that helped the Hoyas survive this one. They were 22 of 25 from the line, nine coming in the final 38 seconds, while the Orange was 14 of 25.
It was Pearl Washington Day inside the Carrier Dome and the former Syracuse star, who died in April of cancer at age 52, was celebrated on a snowy, wintry day. Syracuse University is establishing the Pearl Washington Endowed Fund for Continuing Education and set a $1 million endowment goal. The fund will support student-athletes who leave the university and later return to pursue their degrees.
A framed photo of Washington and a piece of the basketball court were presented to Washington’s family at center court during a halftime celebration. A No. 31, Washington’s number at Syracuse, also was unveiled and adhered to the wooden surface at center court.
“This is a very special weekend. Very special, especially since it’s the Georgetown game,” said Rafael Addison, a teammate of Washington in the 1980s. “It’s hard to talk about him. Pearl would be very pleased with the outpouring of love. (When the 31 peeled off) it felt like he was in the building. He loved this building. He loved this community. He had so much life, so much charisma.”
White hit his first two 3-pointers as Syracuse rushed to an 11-4 lead in the first 5:08, giving the Orange the biggest lead of the first half, 11-4. The Hoyas clawed back behind Peak’s 12 points in the opening period, and when Peak hit a follow shot to tie the game at 31-all in the final two minutes, it almost seemed like an Orange omen.
“We need to improve, take care of business,” White said. “That kind of puts a sour taste in the whole theme of the night. It happens sometimes.”
Georgetown: Hoyas entered the game averaging 28.5 trips to the free-throw line and that’s been a huge factor. They were shooting 77.5 percent on free throws before the game. … Hoyas have won six of their last eight meetings with Syracuse.
Syracuse: A video montage of Washington highlights was shown before the game. .. The Orange leads the series with Georgetown 49-43 but is 7-11 against John Thompson III. Hoyas are 13-30 on the road against Syracuse. … Seven-foot-2 center Paschal Chukwu, a transfer from Providence, had retina surgery on Saturday and is out indefinitely. He’s played 108 minutes in seven games and had not played in two of the previous three games but still led the team with 14 blocks.
ONE FOR PEARL: “We just wanted to make sure that Pearl was honored. He was,” Boeheim said. “We’re just happy we could do that. We had a lot of support from a lot of people.”
Georgetown: Hosts UNC Greensboro at the Verizon Center next Thursday.
Bob Huggins became the just the 10th person to win 800 games at the Division I level on Saturday, and he did it in the typical manner of his West Virginia teams: Press, Press, Press.
The No. 12 Mountaineers forced 27 turnovers in a 112-67 win over UMKC. ‘Press Virginia’ is a machine these days, one that can’t even be slowed down by a team losing their two best scorers, best rebounder and most versatile defender to graduation.
This program that Huggs is overseeing these days is the most unlikely development in a career that never seemed like a given. Huggs has won 800 games despite spending the majority of his career viewed as something of a black sheep by those outside the coaching business, and he did it at these schools: Walsh, Akron, Cincinnati, Kansas State and now West Virginia.
Those aren’t exactly blue-bloods in the sport.
So the fact that he’s had this much success, period, is something of an upset.
But what makes joining this club – which also includes Mike Krzyzewski, Bob Knight, Jim Boeheim, Dean Smith, Adolph Rupp, Jim Calhoun, Jim Phelan, Eddie Sutton and Rollie Massimino — so incredible is that Huggins is winning at West Virginia after totally overhauling his style of play. He’s coaching ‘Press Virginia’ now, but he was never a pressing coach before he returned to Morgantown.
So how did that happen?
Below you’ll find the story we published on that very subject last November.
A SHIFT IN PHILOSOPHY LED BOB HUGGINS TO BUILD ‘PRESS VIRGINIA’
by Raphielle Johnson Published: 11/5/15
Nothing motivates change in sports more than losing.
After struggling in their first two seasons as a member of the Big 12, West Virginia underwent a change that represented quite the departure from their head coach’s usual defensive approach, because that head coach was not accustomed to losing.
In Bob Huggins’ first five seasons at his alma mater, West Virginia won an average of 24 games. The 2010 team won 31, reaching the program’s first Final Four since 1959.
To get an idea of just how long ago that was, Fidel Castro came into power in Cuba in 1959. The Mountaineers went five full decades without seeing a Final Four before the 6-foot-8 West Virginian showed up. Huggins always seems to have a negative connotation thanks to bad boy brand he built around his powerhouse Cincinnati program in the 90’s and early 00’s, but understand this: the man has won 765 games in his career. That didn’t happen by accident. He can coach.
But things changed upon the Mountaineers’ arrival in the Big 12 in 2013. They won just 13 games in their debut season and 17 the following year. While there were some close defeats during those two seasons, the common theme was that the Mountaineers didn’t defend with the aggressiveness many had come to expect from Huggins-coached teams. Part of that was having to adjust their personnel to fit their new conference home.
“(The Big 12) was a different style of play,” Huggins said, “more of a ‘play off the bounce’ kind of league.”
But the main thing was that in those two seasons, the Mountaineers could not get the stops they needed to close out games. And that was a departure from what many are used to seeing from Huggins-coached teams.
“If you know Coach Huggins and his philosophy, he’s always been a ‘defense-first’ coach and prides himself on his teams playing very good team defense,” WVU associate head coach Larry Harrison, who’s been a member of Huggins’ staffs for 17 years at both WVU and Cincinnati, said. “Those two years where we had the losing season and then went to the NIT, it got to a point where when we needed a stop we just didn’t do it as a team and we didn’t have one individual we felt we could depend on defensively to get that stop.”
Last year’s group got back to those defensive principles, only in a slightly different manner: their use of tenacious, full-court pressure that forced turnovers on a nation’s best 28 percent of their opponents’ possessions.
And while the Mountaineers’ effective field goal percentage defense (52.7 percent) was worse than the numbers produced the previous two seasons, that was actually by design. The goal of this new defense, of this press, was to raise hell, take risks and force turnovers that led to layups and open jumpers in transition; easy points that come before defenses get set. When an opposing backcourt was able to beat the press — when West Virginia’s gambling defense didn’t pay off — they got better looks at the rim, only they got less of them.
The end result: 25 wins, a Sweet 16 appearance, and a new identity.
“Press Virginia” was born.
* * *
While attributes such as athleticism, length and quickness get mentioned when discussing pressure defense, the most important key has little to do with physical ability. The key for any successful pressure defense is that the team buy into the concept; that no matter what everyone is on board with the system and won’t abandon ship at the first sign of tumult.
“I thought we needed to change the style that we played,” Huggins said. “I spent time with Kevin Mackey, who I thought did the best job of anybody at the college level with pressure defense. I thought our guys embraced it, and that was probably as key as anything. They really did embrace that style of play.”
Mackey, whose been in basketball for more than four decades, made note of in his conversations with his longtime friend before the start of last season. Now a scout with the Indiana Pacers, Mackey used pressure defense to take 14th-seeded Cleveland State to the Sweet 16 in 1986. And in his view West Virginia’s personnel and the current status of the college game lent itself to the Mountaineers being able to successfully utilize pressure defense. But none of that would have mattered had the head coach not bought into the change himself.
“A number of people told me he won 13 games more than he should have last season,” Mackey noted. “Kids who should have won 13 or 14 games won 25, went to the Sweet 16. In my own opinion Bob’s a hall of fame coach, he’s a great defensive coach. He had the fundamentals down cold 35 years ago, and it was a matter of his adjusting his thinking to go to the full-court (pressure) all the time.”
Just as important as the mindset was the personnel, something West Virginia didn’t have in their first two seasons in the Big 12. Having the pieces needed to be more aggressive defensively allowed the coaching staff to move forward with its plan, with the hope that the defensive intensity would return as a trademark of the program.
“I was with him at Cincinnati in the 90s when we did press quite a bit, more three-quarter court, a lot of 2-1-2 pressure rather than the full-court that we’re doing now,” Harrison said. “Since we’ve been at West Virginia we’ve been trying to get back to that point, we just didn’t feel like we had the personnel to do that.”
“Going into last season with the number of guards we had, we felt we’d be really competitive. And the depth we had, we felt that this was the time because they all wanted to play. That’s the thing that (Huggins) told the guys. ‘If you want to play, then I need all you guys to play as hard as you can for as long as you can and then we can rotate you in and out and then everybody will play.’ But you have to buy in.”
That buy-in is key not only for the beginnings of a new system, but also throughout the course of a season. Turning into a high-level pressure defensive team doesn’t happen overnight.
“The kids can tell if you’re really committed to it,” Mackey continued. “Bobby committed to it. When you first start to teach [a press], it’s a fourth grade press and that’s the best it is. And then after a week it’s a sixth grade press, and after three weeks it’s a high school press.”
“I saw them at the beginning of the season against LSU, which was really gifted physically and had a couple NBA guys, and West Virginia lost by one. I told Bobby it’s a high school press. I then saw him in December at Madison Square Garden against NC State and he had a big-time college press.”
Perhaps most important, however, is actually winning. It’s true with any style, really, but it is particularly important when trying to instill a new style of play into a program. Winning is what the kids and the coaches — hell, everyone that’s involved with or supporting the program — care about. When a team is stacking Ws, the players start to realize: ‘Hey, maybe coach knows what he’s talking about.’
West Virginia won 14 of their first 15 games to start the 2014-15 season, the lone defeat being that one point loss to LSU. It was clear that West Virginia was taking to its new defensive style. One of those watershed moments came in West Virginia’s win over UConn in the title game of the Puerto Rico Tipoff, as they harassed the Huskies into committing 19 turnovers on the night.
And while UConn may not have finished the season as an elite team, that program has an elite name and an elite brand. They were the reigning national champions, after all. Beating them gave the Mountaineers an early indication that this new system could be successful.
“The UConn game gave us some credibility as a team, and also made the players feel much better about what we were doing,” Harrison noted. “You beat the defending national champs, and you do it by playing our style. One of the really big keys is that they would get up, then we would get up, and the players started to see the effect that our style of play was having on our opponents.”
Ten players averaged at least 12.9 minutes per game last season, with guard Juwan Staten (31.2 mpg) leading the way while also pacing the Mountaineers in scoring (14.2 ppg) and assists (4.6 apg). Forwards Devin Williams and Jonathan Holton, with the latter playing at the head of the WVU press, were among the key contributors as well, and the team’s depth and activity helped them mask deficiencies in other areas.
The most notable issue for this group was their lack of quality shooters. They shot 40.8 percent from the field and 31.6 percent from three, finishing the year with an effective field goal percentage of 46.1 percent. Their shooters are more streaky than prolific, and that bore itself out in the percentage numbers West Virginia put up last season. But even with those low percentages West Virginia still managed to finish 45th nationally in adjusted offensive efficiency per Ken Pomeroy’s rankings.
Because they were one of the nation’s best offensive rebounding teams, grabbing more than 40 percent of their own misses. The Mountaineers attempted 512 more shots from the field than their opponents.
Quantity over quality.
“They have guys like Jevon Carter, (Jaysean) Paige, among others, who can certainly heat up and make shots. But the end result of this style is they create more turnovers and more offensive rebounds,” ESPN analyst Fran Fraschilla said. “The fact that they get way more field goal attempts than their opponents, it makes up for the very streaky shooting. I always say, ‘you have to create an offense with a missed shot in mind,’ because even if you shoot 45 percent from the field 55 percent of the shots are coming off as misses.”
“Their offense is designed with the missed shot in mind. In other words, they’re not worried about making or missing jump shots,” Fraschilla continued. “If they go in, great; if guys heat up, great. But they’re also very cognizant of the fact that a missed shot [can be] a pass to Jonathan Holton or Devin Williams or Elijah Macon. That’s how they look at it. You can analyze [the shooting] until the cows come home, but the fact is they get way more field goal attempts than their opponents.”
“They make up for their lack of shooting with their effort both offensively and defensively.”
This season, eight of West Virginia’s top ten players in minutes return; Staten and fellow guard Gary Browne being the departures. Add in a four-member recruiting class that includes four-star forward Esa Ahmad, and the Mountaineers have the experience, depth and talent needed to pick up where they left off a season ago.
“This year that mindset is already there, whereas last year we had to develop it. We had to convince the guys that this was the way we were going to play,” Harrison said. “Now, when our guys are in individual workouts or even in open gym, they’re trapping and picking up full court. It’s kind of like, ‘this is the way it is, you’re at West Virginia, you’re playing for Bob Huggins and this is the way we play.’ It’s caught on, and the new guys are getting used to it as well.”
There are adjustments to be made, however, especially with the renewed emphasis on physical play in college basketball. West Virginia committed more fouls than any team in the country a season ago — 821 to be exact, or 23.5 fouls per game. While there are risks to be taken in the type of defensive system West Virginia employs, they can’t afford to send opponents to the line at a similar clip even with the depth that they enjoy.
And then there’s the need to account for the loss of Staten. While he was the team leader in points and assists, Staten also provided the Mountaineers with a security blanket of sorts down the stretch. With the game in the balance they had a finisher, someone who more times than not made the play that needed to be made. And after going through two seasons in which they struggled to close out games on both ends of the floor, that’s a big deal.
“I think the biggest challenge is going to be finishing games,” Huggins said when asked about how they’d account for the loss of Staten. “He was virtually impossible to trap, he didn’t turn the ball over, and for the most part he made free throws. So there was a guy who you could always put the ball in his hands and trust him with the ball.”
But thanks to their experience, West Virginia does have options capable of assuming that role, namely Jevon Carter.
“He has really embraced that position,” Huggins said. “I think he wants the ball.”
For all of the different areas from which coaches look to extract some kind of motivation, there’s no greater catalyst for change than losing. After two seasons of struggling in the Big 12 West Virginia was faced with a choice: either adapt or continue to languish on the periphery of their new conference. Huggins and his staff adapted, embracing an approach that was a departure from what he’s done in the past.
The move paid off.
“Press Virginia” is here to stay.
PHOTO: Syracuse honors Pearl Washington with number at midcourt
Syracuse took on their former archrival Georgetown on Saturday in the Carrier Dome, and given that they were reigniting what was the most heated rivalry in the old Big East, the Orange opted to honor one of their most popular and famous former players with Pearl Washington Day.
Pearl passed away last year after succumbing to a battle with brain cancer.
To honor him, Syracuse held a ceremony at half time, including the video you see above.
They also unveiled Pearl’s No. 31 in the middle of the ‘S’ at center court in the Carrier Dome. An awesome, unique way to celebrate a guy that, in many ways, launched the Cuse program to another level:
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. (AP) Bob Huggins always wanted to be a basketball player. Coaching wasn’t on his early list of career options.
Huggins will go after coaching win No. 800 on Saturday when No. 12 West Virginia (8-1) takes on Missouri-Kansas City (7-5), the same team Kansas’ Bill Self notched his 600th career win against earlier this month.
Huggins said he doesn’t think about such things unless someone brings it up.
“I don’t know if it’s sunk in,” he said. “I really don’t think about the past. I try to live in the present.”
The 800-win club will have a few new members this season.
Huggins will be the 10th coach of a men’s team with a minimum of 10 years in Division I to get there. Former Villanova coach Rollie Massimino, 82, became the ninth on Wednesday night at NAIA Keiser. North Carolina’s Roy Williams is expected to reach the feat this season.
Growing up in Morgantown, Huggins cherishes the memory of sitting in his grandfather’s lap listening to West Virginia games on the radio. All he wanted to do was play basketball.
Coaching wasn’t high on the list even though his father, Charlie, molded three state high school champion teams in Ohio.
“I think, to a large degree, my dad said `you don’t want to do that,”‘ Huggins said. “I never have listened much to my dad, obviously.”
Charlie Huggins said coaching comes with a caveat.
“We tried to explain to him that it would be a lot of work and not much money,” the elder Huggins said.
Nonetheless, his son’s 800th will be a proud moment.
“It’s been a long haul,” Charlie Huggins said. “It’s amazing. It’s really hard to believe.”
Bob Huggins’ playing aspirations ended after he was cut by the Philadelphia 76ers in 1977. West Virginia coach Joedy Gardner offered him a graduate assistant position, enabling him to finish his master’s degree in health administration.
“I figure I could get my master’s degree paid for. But I didn’t know what I was going to do,” Huggins said.
At one time or another he mulled becoming a doctor or an attorney. But basketball stuck.
He spent two years as an assistant under Eldon Miller at Ohio State, then became a head coach at age 27 at Walsh College in 1980.
Most of his wins came during 16 seasons at Cincinnati before being fired in 2005 in a power struggle with the school’s president. He spent one season at Kansas State and took his dream job at West Virginia in 2007.
His sideline rants haven’t slowed down. Players and referees still get a tongue lashing in front of thousands of fans.
His home-state fans will especially remember him for coming to the aide of star player Da’Sean Butler in the 2010 Final Four in Indianapolis. Facing Duke in the semifinals, Butler fell to the floor with a serious knee injury. Huggins cradled Butler’s head, stroked his face and offered some calming words as trainers worked on him.
Huggins, 63, has endured just three losing seasons, two of which occurred in his first four seasons of coaching. His wife was asked recently if she thought he could last 10 more years.
“She said, `I don’t know about him, but I can’t,”‘ Huggins recalled.
Coaching pal John Calipari at Kentucky tried to put Huggins’ impending feat into perspective.
“It means two things,” Calipari said in a short video sent to Huggins. “One, you’re getting old. And the second thing, if you had played me more, you’d had got there quicker! Congrats man. Happy for you.”
KALAMAZOO, Mich. (AP) Police say a second suspect has been arrested in the shooting death of a Western Michigan University student during an apparent robbery last week.
The Kalamazoo Department of Public Safety says in a statement the 20-year-old Muskegon native was arrested without incident Thursday and will be jailed in Kalamazoo. His name wasn’t released pending an arraignment, which police say could take place Monday.
Prosecutors already charged Western Michigan basketball player Jovieair Kennedy with murder and armed robbery in the shooting of 19-year-old Jacob Jones at an off-campus Kalamazoo apartment on Dec. 8. Kennedy, who’s from Muskegon, was denied bond.
The charging document says others were present at the shooting.
Kennedy appeared in eight games for the Broncos this season, but wasn’t on the roster after the shooting.
CBT Podcast: Miles Simon hops on to talk broadcasting, AAU and west coast hoops
On today’s podcast, ESPN broadcaster and former Arizona Wildcat Miles Simon came on the pod to chat about how he went from being a college basketball coach to a member of the media and what “the AAU problem” in the country is overblown, as well as taking a chance to go through and break down some of the biggest story lines and best players on the west coast.