MORGANTOWN - As Bob Huggins made his way through a short maze of narrow hallways toward West Virginia's locker room late Saturday night at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, he was replaying the final few minutes of his team's 81-66 loss to Michigan in his head.
As he walked he was lamenting that, despite having been taken to the woodshed for most of the night by the No. 3 Wolverines, his team had its chances down the stretch. The Mountaineers somehow had chipped away at an 18-point deficit against one of the best teams in the country and were within 71-64 with 41/2 minutes to play.
"We make a shot and it's down to what, four?'' he asked no one in particular.
It is worth noting, however, that this stroll was at the conclusion of his last real obligation of the night, which was his post-game Q&A with the media. And during that 10-minute session, the final 41/2 minutes - in which WVU scored just two points - barely came up.
"We didn't score in the last four minutes and we had a bunch of young guys out there who tried to catch up on one possession and took some bad shots,'' was really all Huggins said regarding the specifics of any part of the game. "We can fix that.
"That's a lot easier to fix than a bunch of guys standing around watching the ball roll on the floor and while everybody else dives for it they stand around and watch.''
That's right. This was not as much a Q&A as it was an opportunity for Huggins to make a point. He does that from time to time, usually when things are not going well for his basketball team. At 4-5 through nine games, things are not going well at all.
And so he took the opportunity Saturday night to illustrate his point. He didn't just do it after the game in words, but during it in deeds, as well.
"I thought we put some guys in that competed,'' Huggins said, referring to increased playing time for a handful of players. "And I think we took some guys out that wouldn't.''
Indeed, the boxscore from Saturday night's game reflects some significant shifts in who was on the floor. A pair of freshmen, Terry Henderson and Eron Harris, played 36 and 21 minutes, respectively. Henderson had 23 points and three steals and Harris 10 points, two steals and didn't miss a shot.
Point guard Juwan Staten was on the floor almost the whole game, as usual. Dominique Rutledge played for the first time this month, Keaton Miles was back in the starting lineup and Volodymyr Gerun made his college debut.
Just as significant was who was not on the floor, a list that included WVU's two primary centers, Deniz Kilicli and Aaric Murray. Kilicli played just nine minutes and sat most of the second half and Murray wasn't even allowed to make the trip. Jabarie Hinds played only eight minutes, Matt Humphrey didn't take off his sweats and Aaron Brown did so for just two minutes.
"I'm sick of it,'' Huggins said. "I'm sick of watching guys stand around. I'm sick of watching guys not compete. I'm sick of guys missing shot after shot after shot who never come early, never stay late, don't think about coming in on an off day and then tell me they care?
"I want some guys who care. If I get some guys who care, I've got a great coaching staff. We'll coach them up.''