On Tuesday, the 2021-2022 West Virginia men’s basketball season will officially be underway.
Before opening practice on Tuesday, head coach Bob Huggins spoke with the media about how the team has improved from the summer, how the new additions are to this team and just a general update about the program in general.
Style of Play
Last season, the Mountaineers had quite the change in scenery as conference play began. With the departure of Oscar Tshiebwe, the Mountaineers changed their style of play to the roster they had at the time. Huggins said they will play a similar style to what they had then.
“We’re going to probably end up playing four out,” Huggins said. This was similar to how they played with Derek Culver on the inside, and surrounding with four other guys that can shoot the ball.
Last season one of the biggest losses for the Mountaineers was Isaiah Cottrell tearing his achilles in December. Huggins said Cottrell is fully back, and does not have restrictions. Huggins also said Cottrell could be the team’s third best shooter, and has a lot of value if he can shoot the ball well from the five position.
“He can step outside and make shots. He’s not Taz or Sean, but he may be our third best shooter. Just drawing bigs away from the goal I think will really help us,” Huggins said. Later saying, there are no problems with him now being back on the court. “He’s been great from a standpoint of being able to run and jump.”
This season, West Virginia will have a very full roster. With the addition of multiple transfers, as well as the extra year of eligibility due to COVID for Sean McNeil and Taz Sherman, West Virginia will have 15 guys capable of playing. Huggins said he doesn’t expect playing time to be an issue with how good of guys the people on his team are.
“Obviously guys are going to want to play. I don’t think we’ll have attitude problems. I think we’ll have guys sitting there who want to play, who want to get in the game. Everybody feels better when you play. I just don’t think with our guys and their personalities and the way they get along with each other that we’ll have any issues with bad attitudes or anything like that. Then actually if we have a bad attitude we’ll have 14, or 13.”
Big 12 Expansion
With the addition of UCF, BYU, Houston and Cincinnati, Huggins believe the league will continue to grow and get better. Huggins marveled at the amount of quality coaches in the league currently, and how the new members will make the list of coaches that much better.
“There’s good basketball schools, there’s good coaches. I think the thing that we’ve all noticed is the coaching in the Big 12 is really really good. I think the guys that are coming in— they’re good coaches.”
With practice beginning on Tuesday for West Virginia, Huggins’ hope is the current roster will be able to take things slowly and learn in time for the season to start in November. With there being seven newcomers to this squad, there will be a lot of new for this team. In addition, last season was very different from a normal year, and with everything coming back to normal, Huggins knows it will be a challenge to get this team playing to the standard he wants them at.
“It’s going to be a challenge. We have a whole bunch of guys that don’t understand what’s about to happen to them,” Huggins said.
Practice for the West Virginia basketball team is set to begin tomorrow— Sept. 28, with West Virginia’s first scrimmage being against Akron on Friday, Oct. 29.