In the Presence of Giants: Huggins and Self

  • Huggins and Self are alike in certain ways.

    Both guys let the players own the mistakes and losses, as well as the wins.

    I loved hearing Bob say, “I don’t know why you tell a guy to do something again and again and he doesn’t do it. I don’t know.”

    Huggins has won 72% of his games. He has won 834 games!!! He has never coached an elite program. It’s almost unbelievable how many games he has won, given where he has coached.

    72% of the time his guys listen enough for him to win. That’s 7.2 games out of 10.

    83% of the time Self’s guys listen enough to win. That’s 8.3 games out of 10.

    What the old bear said about his players said was harsh, but really no more harsh than what Self says when we lose. Self just smiles more and says it faster.

    Huggins gave his team some serious medicine.

    You guys aren’t preparing like you belong up here. #2 is way up there.

    Remember Self has said exactly the same kind of thing a half dozen times about teams over the years.

    It’s tempting to say it sews some self fulfilling prophecy karma, but really, the both coaches are describing what is already there. A doctor telling you you have cancer doesn’t make the acute symptoms appear later. They were coming.

    By telling players the truth about their play and then telling them how to do it right, the coach gives them a chance to head the problem off before it gives them a loss.

    If they can’t listen and process, then at least after the loss comes they will have more trust in the coach’s advice whenever they can listen.

    Everyone of Huggins’ press conferences and interviews is a clinic, since he took his medicine, sat out a few years and came back.

    He is a fiercesome man—a great bear of a man.

    But he has learned to harness it for good.

    Self is every bit as unflinching in his ways, but he has a much gentler demeanor. But when I say Self is a hard man under that exterior, I mean that there is a Bob Huggins inside the jovial man you meet on Mass Street, or in interviews.

    To be a great coach you have to be unblinking and fearless in what you see, so you can communicate what you see and solutions to it. Self appears to admire Huggins so much, because Huggins is even more fearless than Self in his candor in public.

    Huggins’ and his players will get better from this awful experience of losing two and blowing a lead at home. The players will now know the old coaches knows what he is talking about regarding preparation. Huggins tough love assured that.

    Now Huggins has to go to work on figuring out how to substitute more effectively, so his pressing team can play 2-3 without losing its shooting legs, while also keeping his better players on the floor enough to getter done.

    The March Carney is three 2 in 3 sets. Huggs will likely figure at least part of it out. Like Self, he does not always adapt fast, but he tends to find solutions eventually.

    Remember how Self has had to figure things out on the fly.

    Watching Huggins coach and interview is a privilege, same as is watching Self.

    Self is easier to watch, because he isn’t so edgy, but a person can learn so much good from both.

    These are two giants we are lucky to watch work.

  • Dang…and I though the title was about how big they both looked with those silly tops.😄

  • Bill just has so much more polish and charisma with people, but I agree he is just as tough/hard/direct when it comes to the coaching aspect with the players.

    I would not want to be at the WV practice today!

  • Does longevity make you great? Sometimes that seems is the most important factor in the selection process for persons nominated for HOF awards.

  • @Gunman

    Longevity by itself probably not, productive longevity does.

  • I ranted on Huggy on the live thread. I said he’s won a ton, but has 1 FF to show for it. They said he’s won a lot at places where he gets the most out of his limited talent. There are no current WVU players in the NBA. Yet they have beat us relatively frequently. I guess that means he can coach.

  • @wissox at home

  • @Crimsonorblue22 I know. We don’t lose to anyone frequently, that was my point.

  • @wissox

    Huggs has been an acquired taste for me.

    I loathed him all those years at the Natti.

    He, Knight and Izzo, really did turn the game into a massively more physical game of banging for spot control and I wish it had never happened.

    But it did.

    So I either have to let go of the game I love, or find the good in what it has become and who has evolved it. Self came from a much less physical background and he has made his peace with it. I figure I can, too.

    What I have decided is that Huggins, like me, has had his heart in the right place about the game, and was trying to do the best he could by it, even if he erred at times. Huggs tried to use the game to improve some lives that even the integration of the game was not reaching. Higgs tried to devise a way to win with guys that were strong and athletic, but not super skilled.

    Huggs opened the game up for many players black and white that were not quite football players, were also not yet skillful hoopahs. Izzy did the same thing.

    It took awhile but I learned it was not unprecedented. Ward Piggy Lambert started playing Purdue football players as centers and forwards to bang for boards, bang up cutters, and knock guys off spots, so he only had to get 2 great guards to fast break opponents to death. He started doing it in the late 1920s or early 30s. It changed the game and created what we think of as the more physical Big Ten ball of the last 50 years. Lambert’s brawn ball peaked with a guard named THE INDIANA RUBBER MAN—John Wooden. Wooden evolved it into the UCLA WAY and won 10 rings in 11 years.

    Huggs grew up in a very hard nosed part of the country. They are not easy persons to like, but if they accept you they have your back forever. And they have a code. And they are not known for mincing words.

    He is what he is.

    His sin was the bottle IMHO. He began to believe the rebel hype for awhile. For awhile he forgot to put the game and the young men first. But after his exile, KSU took a chance on him and he seemed to reconnect to the game. But he was still wired into the dark side of recruiting. Some how he kicked the recruiting jones, when he got back to his alma mater—WVU. He seemed to want to do right by the old school. He started trying to do it without the dark side’s recruits—with his kind of guys from the old days.

    Don’t get me wrong. He is no Bo Ryan or Bill Self, but he has tried to come back from the dark side where he had strayed.

    He is like Knight. He wants in the HOF. Knight sucked on Vitale for admission. Huggs is sucking on Self.

    Self apparently has a soft spot for rogues like Eddie Sutton, Jerry Tarkanian, and Bob Huggins.

    But whatever: the guy can coach.

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