Many have already heard today that West Virginia will go the rest of the tourney without their starting point guard Darryl Bryant. Many call the Mountaineer point guard Darryl “Truck” Bryant and this seems to be a fitting nickname for a player in West Virginia. Huggins said he will be missed but the team will go on with their business and prepare for the Sweet 16 like normal.
You have to feel for Hugs. Regardless if you are not a fan of the guy, he never catches a break in the tournament. Players consistently get injured in key situations for him during years where his team really has a shot to make a run. Many of you have to remember when Kenyon Martin went down in the 2000 Conference USA Tournament. Kenyon was the National Player of the year and the heart and soul of the number 1 ranked Bearcats. That team really had a great chance to make a trip to the Final Four and even capture a National Championship.
This is Huggin’s best team in his short stay in West Virginia. Everyone knows how crucial guard play is in the tournament and how it can make or break a team in the final couple of minutes of a hotly contested game. Well now the Mountaineer’s floor general is out. Backup Joe Mazzulla will do fine in Bryant’s place. But it will take away from the Mountaineer depth. And lets face it, going up against the Huskies of Washington with a matchup against the mighty Wildcats looming would have been tough even at full strength. Now West Virginia is forced to go up against perhaps the two most athletic teams in the tournament without their starting point guard.
Does West Virginia still have a chance to make it out of this weekend and into the Final Four? You better believe it. But Washington might be the fastest and most athletic team in the country. Losing your point guard right before a matchup with an up and down team like the Huskies is a devastating blow. Then if they do survive this battle, you go up against the most talented and probably best all around team in the country (Kentucky). Not to mention Kentucky can get up and run with the best of them with their outstanding guards and bigs.
My condolences go out to Hugs. I know I will be pulling for the guy to make it through this weekend. He has gotten some bad luck in past tournaments losing due to half court buzzer beaters, horrible officiating, and injuries. Well maybe the big guy will get some luck on his side this weekend and break back into the Final Four for his 2nd time (last appearance was in 1992 with a Nick Van Exel led Bearcat team).
Lastly, people who say Huggins is a vastly overrated coach aren’t looking at the man’s numbers. He has made 2 Sweet 16’s, 2 Elite Eights, and a Final Four. Not to mention he hasn’t coached at marquee programs. He built Cincinnati into an empire. He is building West Virginia into a program. Hugs even enjoyed success at both Walsh and Akron before his arrival in Cincy. Nobody can question that Huggins is a fantastic recruiter. He consistently brings in top-notch recruiting classes that are ready to play “Bob Huggins” basketball. Huggins consistently produces teams that are at the top of the nation in rebounding and defense. Not to mention they also take care of the ball great on offense and rarely turn the ball over. Huggins gets 100 percent effort out of his players at all times. His players respect him and play their tails off for him no matter what the circumstance.
You have to respect a guy that is able to garner the respect from his players that Bob does. So maybe he has had some disappointments in the tournament due to bad luck or however you want to spin it, but he has had an outstanding coaching career. And this is unquestioned with or without a national title in my eyes.
So do the Mountaineers have a shot to win both games this weekend and represent the East Region in the Final Four?
Stay tuned for the next edition of Sportskraze.