Huggins entertains at NCAA tournament pressers
COLUMBUS, Ohio – Bob Huggins has West Virginia back in the NCAA tournament for the first time in three seasons, Huggins’ 21st NCAA tournament appearance as a head coach.
He can coach. And entertain.
Through three formal press conferences over the last three days and one postgame interview in Nationwide Arena, Huggins has consistently delivered humor and candor in his answers. Like Saturday, when he was asked why he wears a pullover jacket when he coaches instead of a suit like most coaches wear.
"Because I’m not a banker," Huggins said.
Everyone in the room laughed.
"I’m at the point in my life now, I’m on the downhill," Huggins said. "I’ve been doing this a long, long time and I’m going to be comfortable, you know? I did wear a suit for a little while this year, just because I don’t like people to think they have me figured out. But that’s the only reason."
And that wasn’t his only memorable answer. Following is a sampling of Huggins’ best lines from this weekend…
**Huggins was asked if TV pundits picking Buffalo to beat West Virginia in the round of 64 Friday provided any extra motivation to his team.
"I’m really going to have lost my mind when I start paying attention to what Jay Bilas and those people say," Huggins said. "Jay always does those tweets, ‘(I) gotta go to work.’ I’m trying to wonder what that is. But I don’t pay any attention to those guys. I mean really, honestly, if they knew everything they probably would have a pretty good coaching job making a lot more money than they’re making sitting there in the studio. So we don’t pay any attention to that."
In a postgame interview, Huggins was asked about CBS analysts Doug Gottlieb and Seth Davis picking Buffalo to win and Huggins said he didn’t put much stock in predictions from "a guy who couldn’t shoot 50 percent at the free-throw line and another guy who played intramurals at Duke."
**On his teams two failed alley-oop attempts in the Buffalo game that turned Huggins various shades of red and purple: "(Those) were out of character. I don’t think you’ll see that again. I don’t think we have to worry about that. I think I’ve expressed my opinion strongly enough. Actually may be abrasive, I think that’s the word that’s been bantered around now. Isn’t it a shame in today’s world you can’t tell the truth? If you tell the truth, you’re abrasive. If you lie, you’re charming."
**And more on the suit/sweatsuit thing: "I used to dress really nice, by the way. If you all dig up some old pictures, I’m a pretty good looking guy. I don’t know who we were playing, but I was at Cincinnati. And I went in at halftime and I was soaking wet. I was soaked all through my shirt, my suit coat, pants and everything else. And I told the equipment guy, ‘Go get me something to wear,’ and he brought a pullover out. So I put the pullover on and I coached the second half in the pullover.
"After the game my athletic director came in said, ‘You look really good in a pullover. I think that’s what coaches should wear.’ So I got the green light. So I started wearing a pullover, and that worked out pretty well until I got a new president. And then I found out my athletic director told the president he told me I should wear a suit."
**Friday night’s Dayton-Providence game at Nationwide Arena didn’t end until Saturday morning — 1:06 a.m., to be exact. TV sets tip-off times for NCAA tournament games, and Huggins was asked about that.
"You’ve got to remember this, it’s all for the betterment of the student-athlete," Huggins said. "I’ve heard that. Yeah, it is. It is. But I mean, what are you going to do? You’ve got all these games to cram on TV. And it’s going to happen. And one game runs over a little bit.
"Here’s what I don’t understand. I don’t understand in the same bracket how some people are playing on Thursday and some are playing on Friday. So we win or Maryland wins and you’re going to get home probably on Monday. And you turn around and have to leave again on Tuesday to play on Thursday — (and) the team that you’re going to play is playing (Saturday), and we’re playing late (Sunday)?
"That doesn’t make much sense to me. I’m not sure who did that scheduling. I’m sure it was TV. Or they had something to do with it. But I’m just — it just tickles me to death that we’re doing this for the student-athletes. It’s all for the betterment of the student-athlete."
**Last Thurdsday, Huggins was asked if playing in Columbus had any special meaning given that he played high school basketball in Ohio and previously coached at Cincinnati, Akron and Walsh College.
"No, not really," he said. "I’m not very nostalgic. I’ve told this story several times, but at the risk of boring some of you, I grew up in a town of 500 people, two stoplights. This guy used to come around and pick up Gene Ford and I. Gene (just retired as) coach at Muskingum College. He used to pick us up to play in different towns around in the area. And I got in the truck one day and I looked and it didn’t have a rearview mirror.
"And I said, ‘Phil, you don’t have a rearview mirror.’ He said, ‘Boy, we’re not going backwards.’ That’s kind of how I’ve lived my life. I don’t look backwards. I don’t have a rearview mirror. I just look forward."
If West Virginia beats Maryland Sunday, we get more Huggins — at the Cleveland regional — next week.