MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Before last season began, Bob Huggins expected to have a team that could score from the perimeter. During the offseason, the Mountaineers brought in a pair of transfers to do just that.
Still, WVU hoops ranked last in the Big 12 in 3-point shooting for the 2019-20 campaign, making just 28.6 percent of their attempts and averaging five triples per game.
As a new season nears, an optimistic Huggins — the head coach who often jokingly touts his “effervescent personality” — thinks things will be different.
“We’ve got guys who can make shots,” Huggins said. “I would be totally stunned if we didn’t have a good year shooting the ball from beyond the arc.”
Huggins is so confident in one of his shooters that he said he’d take guard Sean McNeil in a 3-point shooting contest against any other player in the Big 12 Conference. But even if the Mountaineers are having an off day, the head coach thinks they will be fine in most games — as long as star forwards Derek Culver and Oscar Tshiebwe can up their production.
“It’s kind of refreshing when you continue to see the ball bouncing off the rim to know that Derek and Oscar and Isaiah [Cottrell] and Gabe [Osabuohien] and those guys are waiting right there to be able to get their hands on it and do something with it as well,” Huggins said.
In the past, Huggins has praised buy-in from his players, saying they willingly put in the necessary time and effort to improve. He thinks that, amid the pandemic, this season of college basketball will test the dedication of every student-athlete.
“You know, we’ve never gone through this. You can’t get into any kind of flow because something constantly comes up that takes you out of the flow so to speak,” Huggins said. “The great thing for us is we have guys that love being in the gym, so they’re gonna be in the gym whether we’re in there or not.”
McNeil said he’s seeing growth from some of his teammates.
“I’ve been shooting a lot with Jordan [McCabe]. Honestly, we have really been shooting it well in practice, but Jordan has put in a tremendous amount of time on his shot,” McNeil said. “He’s a guy I normally work out with, too. Taz has been shooting it really well.”