Beating No. 1 Villanova Would Finally Get Bob Huggins Some Props

Bob Huggins 845 career wins in 36 seasons as a college hoops sideline stalker makes him one of only ten coaches ever with 800 or more career victories. Hes a true program builder. Not a big name who gets his pick of the pro talents looking to chill for a season before getting the bag at the next level. 

Huggins’ 800th win full TV tribute

Bob Huggins 800 wins

Huggins precise motion offense and rugged defensive culture have led his teams to eight Sweet Sixteen’s, four Elite Eight’s and two Final Four’s (1992 with Cincinnati; 2010 with West Virginia). 

He has a .713 winning percentage, which includes stints at Walsh College (1980-83), Akron (1984-1989), Cincinnati (1989-2005), Kansas State (2006-07) and West Virginia (2007-present). 

Huggy Bear ranks third in total victories among active head coaches behind Coach K at Duke and Syracuses Jim Boeheim and has the eighth-most wins in D-I college basketball history. Huggins teams have participated in postseason play in 32 of his 36 seasons, including 24 NCAA Tournaments.

WVU Basketball 2008 A New Era

Highlights from the 2008 Season

He did what many consider the impossible by reinvigorating a dominant hoops culture at Cincinnati, built off the backs of junior college players with something to prove and a coach who believed in them. Players who executed Huggins’ style of play of creating turnovers with in-your-face pressure, accumulating buckets in the transition game, muscling in for offensive rebounds, and making a living at the free-throw line.

Cincinnati had not been to the NCAA tournament since 1977 when Huggins arrived in 1989. By his third season, the Bearcats were in the Final Four the first of 14 straight NCAA tournament appearances. In 16 years, Huggins reached one Final Four and made two Elite 8 appearances. 

You also have to give him props for coaching what The Shadow League called one of  “The Five Blackest Programs in Modern NCAA History.”

We had great guys,” Huggins once told CBS Sports’ Clark Kellogg. “We had guys that came in from different walks of life, they had things to prove. They played with a chip on our shoulders. It was a combination of both of us. When we really got it going, we got it going with junior college guys. I loved their passion to succeed. Their will to win.”

Bob Huggins Tribute Video

Video played at Fifth Third Arena before the Cincinnati vs. West Virginia Men’s Basketball game on February 26, 2009. Video is a tribute to WVU Head Coach Bob Huggins upon making his return to the University of Cincinnati

After 16 years of rebuilding Cincinnati to the prominence it once had in the ’60s, Huggins returned home to his birthplace of West Virginia on April 5, 2007, and accepted an offer to coach his alma mater, West Virginia University. 

Huggins had come full circle, returning to the place where he says he spent the first 10 years of his life before moving to Ohio. The place where the majority of his family is from. 

After leading the Mountaineers to a Sweet 16 appearance, Huggins signed an 11-year contract with the university after the season ended. He reached a Final Four with the Mountaineers in 2009-10 and has reached the Sweet 16 in three of the last four seasons, a sign that Huggins is just getting better with time.

A bit calmer and less fiery than he used to be, but he’s still the same emotional, master technician and teacher who has always been one NCAA title short, one Top 3 blue-chip recruit short of being mentioned among the elite legends of the game. 

Mountaineers Whip Wildcats, Advance to Final Four

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Huggins is underrated as a coach in the same way that his teams are often overlooked. His players too. Huggins will have to draw on all of his years of experience and rely on the play of his underrated superstar guard Jevon Carter to pull off a major upset on Saturday against No. 1 seed Villanova in the East Regional’s Sweet 16. 

Carter, a tough-nosed, strong defender, and fearless offensive talent embodies everything Huggins and his WVU program stands for. 

West Virginia’s Jevon Carter could not be stopped in the Mountaineers’ victory

Jevon Carter put up 28 points, including 5 three-pointers, to go with 4 rebounds, 5 assists, and 5 steals. Watch highlights, game recaps, and much more from the 2018 NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Tournament on the official NCAA March Madness YouTube channel.

The senior guard, a National Player of the Year dark horse candidate, made history with West Virginia by scoring 20 points four times in NCAA tournament play during his career. Only Jerry West, the greatest Mountaineer to ever shoot a pill, has more. 

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He was on the furthest court that you could be on. I went over there and was trying to drink my coffee and wake up, and this guy is pressing at 8 a.m. No one else on his team is pressing, just him.”

Carter’s NBA pedigree will get tested against Wildcats star Jalen Brunson, but if history is any indication, Carter will do his part to help West Virginia pull the upset. Huggins has lost some tough, close games in his NCAA Tournament career. Maybe this is the year that the tides turn in his favor. 

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