The sign, which was stuck in the cart of a street vendor who was apparently weary of haggling, stated his new philosophy and new pricing structure quite clearly:
“Tired of the bulls--- All items $3.00”
I have no way of knowing if Huggins saw that sign, but clearly he and the vendor shared the same attitude about the way things are going. Huggins, who doesn't lack for directness, delivered much the same message regarding the effort and commitment of some members of his team following the game.
If you haven't watched that clip yet, do so before proceeding, because it provides some needed context to what comes next.
First, although Huggins didn't want to name all the names of those that haven't shown the level of commitment necessary to improve and win games, he did end up speaking about Deniz Kilicli and Aaric Murray. Murray didn't even make the trip after reportedly missing at least one team function, while Kilicli played just nine minutes after a poor start that included three missed shots around the hoop and just two rebounds.
Judging from his comments, it seemed safe to assume that the big duo was included in the group. After that, a bit of examination is required.
Jabarie Hinds didn't play in the second half after being removed to the accompaniment of a few blistering comments, which he didn't take very well. Aaron Brown played just two token minutes late and hasn't seen much action recently, while Matt Humphrey, who played 14 minutes against Duquesne, didn't leave the bench. Huggins noted that a judgment on who he was discussing could be made by noting who played, but making that assumption about every player who didn't get a lot of minutes in this game is a dangerous one. For example, Kevin Noreen played but 11 minutes, yet was singled out after his big game against Virginia Tech as a player that does come early, stay late and work on his game.
Identifying every player that isn't putting in the necessary work isn't the point here, however. The important thing is that Huggins' post-game polemic can't be just another video to be watched, chuckled at, and then filed away with your LOL Cats images and bicycle crash videos. It has to be followed up with action.
It isn't as if this is the first time this season that Huggins has delivered this message. More than once, he's lamented the fact that some of his players aren't putting in the extra time in the practice facility to work on their games. The same can be said of the effort of some players in studying video and working on scouting reports. He's delivered the message multiple times – and if it's not heeded, there have to be consequences.
If Huggins is serious about this, then the players in his doghouse need to sit on the bench for the Oakland game. They shouldn't play for a second. And that should be the case even if they've spent every waking minute in the practice facility since they returned home from New York. If this has been an ongoing problem, then a few hours of extra effort on Monday and Tuesday shouldn't make up for it. Huggins has addressed that issue as well, noting recently that some players think that one extra session is all that's needed to fix their problems.
I'm not going to call out individual players that should sit down, because Huggins didn't name names specifically. It's possible that one or more of the people that didn't play much against Michigan might have been held out for other reasons. But the fact is that there are some players who aren't doing anything near what is expected of them, and those guys need to learn that their level of effort and commitment isn't getting the job done. They haven't learned the lesson any other way. The only way to do that is to eliminate their playing time.
If Huggins doesn't do this – if he lets those players start or play a great deal against Oakland – then his words are going to be dismissed as bluster. The veteran coach certainly has that as part of his makeup, but he also carries a ton of care and love for WVU, basketball and the state in his heart. Not for a second did I doubt his sincerity as he spoke after the Michigan game, or during his many tributes to the school and West Virginia. But for his latest speech to have any effect at all, it has to be backed with drastic action.
If there aren't any changes on Wednesday night, the weight of Huggins' words on his players will be diminished, if not entirely dismissed. What will those players that are working hard, that are putting in the effort, think when they are again bypassed by those that aren't doing the right things? What would you do in a similar circumstance?
I understand that not playing some of these players might put WVU at an even greater competitive disadvantage. It might even cause some losses. But it's the right thing to do -- and the only thing that might help this team turn its season around.