During the one-day break before playing the No. 11 seed Syracuse Orange, WVU forward Jalen Bridges and WVU head coach Bob Huggins spoke with the media about the matchup with the old Big East foe.
Bridges—a redshirt freshman—was just in elementary school the last time West Virginia and Syracuse have went at it against each other. If you want to feel old, read this quote by Bridges.
“I was really young, so I really don’t [remember]. I really can’t think of anything off the top of my head,” Bridges said. “So, I’ll say I really don’t have any memories of those games.”
Now looking ahead at this Syracuse team, both Bridges and Huggins give their analysis on the Orange.
“They’re [Syracuse] a really versatile team, they can do a lot of different things,” WVU forward Jalen Bridges said. “They have a lot of guys who can space the floor, a lot of guys who can bring the ball up, initiate their offense. I’m really looking forward to the matchup that they present for us and for me.”
“We won’t have a problem with that [splitting the zone],” Huggins said. “We obviously have to make shots and I can’t guarantee we’re going to make shots, but we’ve played them a lot of times. I think that coach [Boeheim] has done a great job of changing things up. They’re not like they used to be. They throw a lot more at you now than what they did back in the Big East days.”
Due to the Purdue and North Texas game going to overtime on Friday night, the Mountaineers First Round game in the NCAA Tournament was delayed by 40 minutes. The game ended around 12:30 in the early stages of Saturday morning. The guys tried their hardest to get the most out of the rest of the night.
“We probably got back to the hotel at like 1:30 a.m. and then I took a shower, I got in bed, I watched as much of the game [against Morehead State] as I could before I fell asleep,” Bridges said. “That was basically it for me.”
“We really were on our own after the game and all the scouting starts today for us,” Bridges added.
This Second Round matchup marks the first time in nine years that Huggins has coached against Syracuse head coach Jim Boeheim. Boeheim is own for his two-three defense, which has been revised over the years. Huggins knows this will be a two-three zone, but what will change about it since he last dealt with it?
“Well, he [Jim Boeheim] does a great job of making adjustments,” WVU coach Bob Huggins said on Saturday. “They [Syracuse] just don’t stand in your typical two-three zone. They raise the wings; they sink the wings. They change how they’re going to play the middle guy.”
“I mean, he’s the foremost authority on the two-three zone,” Huggins added.
Huggins also remembers the first time he went against Boeheim, in 1976. Huggins was a senior forward for WVU, while Boeheim was in his first year coaching at Syracuse. The Mountaineers won the game, 83-78. Of course, Huggins won’t let Boeheim forget.
“Every time I see him, I bring it up, he doesn’t want to talk about it,” Huggins said. “Yeah, that was a big comeback for us. We were down and made a big run at the end.”
(Top Photo: Justin Tafoya/NCAA Photos via Getty Images)