“West Virginia fouls too much!”
It’s called physicality. And basketball is a physical sport. Some may even say it’s a contact one. Whatever it is, outsiders don’t like West Virginia’s style. But guess what? Bob Huggins, winner of 819-career games and counting, doesn’t care.
The Mountaineers have turned their opponent’s over 14.5 times since the start of the tournament. Notre Dame, one of the best team’s in the country at not turning the ball over, didn’t stand a chance after committing nine in the first half. WVU’s 10-0 lead to start the game was too much for the Irish to overcome; only one day after St. Patrick’s day, the Irish luck had run out.
It’s not just about the full-court pressure, though. Huggins has done an excellent job staying one step ahead of his counterparts. In just about every game dating back to the Big 12 Tournament, Huggins shifts his defense in an unexpected manner. Instead of full-court pressure headed by Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year Jevon Carter and his first-team all-defensive teammate Nathan Adrian, Carter sets up under his own basket as the back-line of defense in the 1-3-1 half-court set.
Once a staple of John Beilein’s team’s in Morgantown, Huggins uses the change-up to throw opposing teams off – even if it’s only for a possession or two. Usually, team’s take about three possessions just figuring out what it is they’re seeing, but the long break between the round of 32 and the Sweet 16 should have Gonzaga prepared for battle.
We could see a situation where a 2-3 zone by WVU is the most effective. Gonzaga hasn’t shot the ball well from deep in the tournament, 26 percent and 25 percent their first two games. Could we see a scenario where Huggins jumps into a 2-3, packs the paint, and forces Gonzaga to make shots? It shouldn’t be his plan for the entire game, but if the ‘Eers have trouble defending the Gonzaga bigs, expect to see Huggy Bear adjust.