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Season preview: CHD interviews West Virginia coach Bob Huggins

12HUGGSTo prepare for the tip-off of another great year of college basketball, CHD is reaching out to coaches and players around the country to get the inside scoop on what we can expect this time around. Jon Teitel continues our season preview series by chatting with West Virginia coach Bob Huggins about having the 3rd-most wins among active coaches.

In the 2014 NIT you lost to Georgetown: what did your team learn from that game that you think can help you this year? We do not want to have to play in the NIT on Georgetown’s campus again: it is an awfully small place to play.

Your non-conference schedule includes games against LSU, NC State, and Virginia Tech: which of these games do you feel will present your biggest test? Before those games we head to Puerto Rico and might have to play the defending national champs. The Puerto Rico field is a great field and will tell us more than the other games will because it is early in our schedule.

You lost two of your top-3 scorers from last year (Eron Harris, Terry Henderson): how much pressure is there on Juwan Staten to be your leader this year? Juwan is going to be our leader: he just needs to be himself. That is the same thing I told Kenyon and the same thing I told Da’Sean: he does not need to be anything else.

You rank #3 in career wins among active D-1 coaches (behind Mike Krzyzewski and Jim Boeheim): what makes you such a great coach, and how long do you plan on sticking around for? I want to stick around until Boeheim retires, which may not happen the way he is going! I always thought I had a great relationship with my players and was able to get them to play hard.

What are your goals for the upcoming season, and what are your expectations for the upcoming season? I want to be part of a third undefeated season.

As a senior at Indian Valley South High School you helped lead your team to a 26-0 record, and as coach at Walsh University your team went 30-0 during the 1983 regular season: what is the key to having an undefeated season? Good players…and you have to be a little lucky.

You were a 2-time Academic All-American at West Virginia and graduated magna cum laude in 1977: how much importance do you place on academics? Obviously a great deal. I grew up in a family where it was very important, and all six of my siblings are very educated.

In the 1998 NCAA tourney as coach at Cincinnati, Jarrod West scored 15 points (5-8 3PM) and banked in a 25-footer with 0.8 seconds left in a 1-point win by your alma mater: where does that rank among the most amazing shots you have ever seen? I try to block it out, but they keep showing it before every game up on the scoreboard, so I just look away.

In 2000 you started the year 28-2 before POY/DPOY Kenyon Martin broke his fibula three minutes into your CUSA tourney opener against St. Louis: I know it is a hypothetical, but how far do you think your team would have gone with a healthy Martin? I thought we were the best team in the country, and so did everyone else.

In the 2010 Big East tourney as coach at West Virginia you clinched the title with three wins in three days by a total of seven points: did tourney MVP Da’Sean Butler (who made 2 separate game-winning shots) just put the team on his back for the entire weekend? No. He had a great weekend, but Joe Mazzulla coming back from a shoulder injury really helped us, and Kevin Jones and Devin Ebanks also had a great tourney.

JonTeitel