West Virginia Head Coach Bob Huggins has created a tough, challenging, competitive environment for his basketball team. Huggins believes that competition from his players in practices and games will bring the very best out of them.
If a player is not competing in the way that Huggins believes is best for the team, that player will not play. Winning teams have players that put the team before themselves and Huggins is building a successful, winning team.
Interior players better rebound and play defense, or they won’t play. If a guard is making turnovers and not moving the ball, Huggins will bench them. It doesn’t matter who the player is because no player is bigger than the team.
Huggins sent an immediate message to his team by only playing starting point guard Jordan McCabe nine total minutes, eight of which came in the first half. McCabe, the leader of the team, only played one minute in the second half in a relatively close game.
Although McCabe had 2 points (0-1 FG, 2-4 FT), 3 assists, 1 steal and 0 turnovers, Bob Huggins saw something from McCabe that he didn’t like. Huggins later said, “McCabe was brought here to pass.” There wasn’t much more said about McCabe and so obviously McCabe missed open players and spent too much time dribbling the ball. Huggins has had issues with McCabe dribbling the ball too much since the Sophomore guard arrived in Morgantown.
The message was sent. If you don’t do what Bob Huggins wants, you won’t play. It’s Bob Huggins’ way or the highway (or, perhaps more appropriately, the bench) this season. The West Virginia bench is deep and if a starter isn’t getting it done, there are plenty of players available that will.
Not only did Bob Huggins send a message to the entire team by benching McCabe, but his backup, Freshman Miles McBride, played exceptionally well in his debut game and it would have been tough to take him out.
McBride, who finished with 11 points, 6 rebounds, 4 assists, 4 steals and a block shot while playing outstanding defense throughout the game. Even more than his statistics, McBride was cool, confident and he listens to his coach. Huggins, following the opener, said, “He’s a guy that does what you tell him to do.”
Bob Huggins wants to win and he wants to win right now. No player is too big and no player is immune from being benched. Huggins has big expectations for his team this season and his tough love will make men out of boys.