WVU Still Trying To Find a Leader

MORGANTOWN – After Sunday’s nap-time 56-46 victory against South Florida, West Virginia coach Bob Huggins handled back-to-back questions about team leaders and team defections.

If the second part keeps up, the first one is going to be easier.

Who’s the leader? The guy that’s left.

Already playing with zero contributions from a mostly lost freshman class, Huggins disclosed that sophomore center Danny Jennings is no longer a Mountaineer.

And he did so with the regret of someone divorcing a millionaire with no prenup.

”Never to be seen again,” Huggins said of Jennings.

As the questions pressed on, the coach said he realized curiosity persists, but offered only this on Jennings.

”The truth of the matter is he’s been a non-entity,” Huggins said. ”Look at his career stats.”

That’s 222 minutes, 71 rebounds, 45 personal fouls, and 62 points.

Thanks for the memories.

After that, Huggins went all Jimmy King on the topic of leadership.

”It’s easier to achieve your goals when you’re all rowing in the same direction,” Huggins said, no doubt repeating something King says daily as WVU’s rowing coach. ”Guys that don’t want to have teammates need to play golf and tennis.”

Huggins says his best teams – everyone’s best teams – are the ones where the best player is the hardest worker, and thus, is the leader. He had it with Kenyon Martin, had it with Da’Sean Butler. He’s looking for it out of Kevin Jones.

”He’s trying, he’s just not very vocal,” Huggins said.

KJ had 13 points and five rebounds against the Bulls, a performance that featured a big show of emotion after a second-half dunk.

That was a rare moment in this game though.

USF, a struggling, Big East basement-dwelling, point-a-minute team that is bullish in name only, didn’t bring a lot of excitement, prompting more honesty from Huggins.

”I thought it was just a ‘blah’ game by both teams,” Huggins said. ”I think the whole building was just ‘blah.’ We played really well defensively at times; that’s the best we’ve run the matchup (zone defense), and we did it for an extended period of time.”

That was a reference to a 7-minute, 59-second span near the end of the first half where South Florida went scoreless. It had 16 points at halftime.


”I really didn’t notice the offense wasn’t scoring and I looked up with 8 minutes to go, and said ‘whoa, this is a low-scoring game,’ ” WVU forward John Flowers said. ”That’s why you have to play defense and rebound. There are going to be nights like that.”

The score, with 8 minutes left, was 42-28 in favor of the Mountaineers.

Casey Mitchell, Flowers, and Jones each wound up scoring 13 points to lead the Mountaineers. Mitchell didn’t think he was doing enough, so he added a career-best 14 rebounds to complete a double-double.

Huggins joked that Mitchell should know where the ball’s going because he misses so many, but Mitchell wasn’t getting his own boards.

”Every time the ball went up, I went opposite,” Mitchell said. ”And a lot of them just fell in my hand.”

That’s the most rebounds he’s had in a game since he had 22 once in high school. And now the bar is raised.

”Now coach knows I can get 14, he’s going to expect seven or eight,” Mitchell said.

Well, the opportunities are going to be greater, that’s for sure. With Jennings’ departure, that’s five players who at one point expected to make a contribution when the media guide was printed that won’t.

Jim Elliott can be reached at elliott@theintelligencer.net