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Huggins Going Into Hoops Hall of Fame

WVU coach ranks fourth all-time with 916 career wins

West Virginia coach Bob Huggins shouts to players during the second half of the team's NCAA college basketball game against Kansas State in Manhattan, Kan., Monday, Feb. 14, 2022. (AP Photo/Reed Hoffmann)

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — When the 2022-23 college basketball season begins, not only will West Virginia University’s Bob Huggins have the second most wins among active coaches, he also will be a Hall of Famer.

Huggins on Saturday was announced as an inductee into the Basketball Hall of Fame. Joining him will be NBA greats Manu Ginobili and Tim Hardaway and decorated former coach George Karl. Also being inducted are former WNBA champion and two-time college national champion Swin Cash; WNBA champion and two-time Olympic Gold Medalist Lindsay Whalen; NCAA national championship coach and former WNBA Coach of the Year Marianne Stanley, and former NBA official Hugh Evans.

Huggins was born in Morgantown but grew up in Port Washington, Ohio, in Tuscarawas County. He played basketball at WVU, being named an Academic All-American his senior year.

He started his head coaching career Walsh. He also had stints at Akron, Cincinnati, Kansas State and then, since 2007, at West Virginia. His 916 career wins is fourth all-time behind Mike Krzyzewski, Jim Boeheim and Jim Calhoun.

Over the course of his career, Huggins has led his teams to 25 NCAA Tournament berths, including nine appearances in the Sweet Sixteen, four trips to the Elite Eight, and two appearances in the NCAA Final Four. In 16 years as the head coach at the University of Cincinnati (1989-2005), Huggins led the Bearcats to eight Conference USA regular season championships (1996-2002, 2004), four Conference USA Tournament championships (1996, 1998, 2002, 2004), was a three-time Conference USA Coach of the Year (1998-2000) and was honored as the Conference USA Coach of the Decade in 2005. On the national level, he a was tabbed as the Sporting News National Coach of the Year in 2000 and the ESPN.com National Coach of the Year in 2002.

When Ginobili reflects on the odds of a kid from Argentina growing up to win four NBA titles and Olympic gold, he sounds in awe that that is in fact the story of his athletic life.

“It’s one in tens of millions,” Ginobili said. “The odds are very, very slim and it just happened to me. I don’t know what happened, but I was the one.

“I happen to be an important part of two very iconic teams of those couple decades of both FIBA and with the NBA. Incredibly lucky and fortunate to be a part of those two.”

The class will be enshrined into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield, Massachusetts, on Sept. 10.

Ginobili, a two-time All-Star spent his enitre 16-year NBA career with San Antonio, which as a big reason he’s now going into the Hall of Fame. He similarly credited his long stint with an Argentina national team that regularly among the best in the world.

“I was a part of two incredible teams; if it wasn’t for being part of those two teams, I wouldn’t be here,” Ginobili said. “It’s not just about individual accomplishments. I never won a scoring championship, an MVP or even (All-NBA) First Team. I’m here because of my surroundings, of the players I played with, of the coaches I was coached (by) and the organizations. I know I’ve been very lucky.”

But Ginobili did leave his mark on the game in the way he employed lateral movement after picking up his dribble to get up shots in the paint. It became known as the “Eurostep,” because Ginobili had played for a EuroLeague championship-winning team in Bologna, Italy, before coming to the NBA.

“I never saw that I created anything or brought anything new. I just played the only way I thought possible,” Ginobili explained, bringing up the challenge of trying to score against 7-footer Shaquille O’Neal early in his career.

“I was not going to go over Shaq and dunk, I had to go around people,” Ginobili said. “That’s the way my skill set and physical abilities found to get to the rim. I’ve done it since I can remember.”

Ginobili recalled Steve Kerr bringing more attention to the move when he sport about “how weird it looked.”

“I looked like a squirrel crossing the street getting to the rim,” Ginobili said, referring to his recollection of Kerr’s description. “That’s when I started to realize I was doing something a bit different and people started mentioning the Eurostep. For me, it was completely natural.”

Hardaway played 15 NBA seasons from 1989 to 2003 with Golden State, Miami, Dallas, Denver and Indiana.

Karl played in the NBA for five seasons in San Antonio before coaching for 27 years, during which he won 1,175 games — placing him sixth all-time. He was named NBA Coach of the Year in 2013.

Cash, who already has been elected to the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame, is currently an executive with the NBA’s New Orleans Pelicans. She won two NCAA national titles with Connecticut and a WNBA title with Detroit. She also worked as an executive with the WNBA’s New York Liberty.

Whalen is a five-time WNBA All-Star and four-time champion. She is now the head coach at Minnesota, where she also played in college.

Stanley, who is currently a WNBA head coach with Indiana, has spent 45 years in coaching, including 22 years at the college level with Old Dominion, Pennsylvania, Southern California, Stanford and California. She was WNBA coach of the year in 2022, when she also was elected to the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame.

Evans officiated more than 1,900 regular season games, along with 170 playoff games, 35 NBA Finals games and four NBA All-Star games from 1973 to 2001. He also was the NBA’s Assistant Supervisor of Officials for three years after stepping away from on-court officiating.

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