MORGANTOWN - If Bob Huggins could just get his players to do what he demands when he demands it, life would be a real bowl of cherries for West Virginia's basketball coach.
Of course, couldn't the same be said for every coach in every sport on the planet?
It is becoming increasingly evident, though, that this winter is going to be especially challenging for Huggins along those lines. And it has nothing to do with his Mountaineers being incapable of following directions.
Well, almost nothing.
"We just make bad decisions a lot of the time,'' Huggins said. "And we shouldn't make as bad a decisions as we do because we've got guys who have experience.''
Those occasional bad decisions aside, though, the simple truth is that - at least at this point - West Virginia's problem is one of skills and talent. Huggins has players with both, but it is an odd collection that doesn't seem to mesh, not from a personal standpoint but from a personnel standpoint.
Finding the right combinations to put on the floor at the right times is, well, challenging.
Case in point: Casey Mitchell and Deniz Kilicli.
Tuesday night, in West Virginia's 67-65 win at DePaul, Mitchell and Kilicli came up huge. Mitchell had by far his best game in more than a month with 18 points, three 3-pointers, three assists, just one turnover and even a block.
Kilicli was equally impressive. The 6-foot-9, 260-pound sophomore had 14 points and was stunningly effective in the offensive post. That little baby hook shot of his that he tosses up there and lets it softly bounce on the rim? He made one from 10 feet Tuesday night, which is, oh, about 91/2 feet beyond its range. In the last two games Kilicli is 13-of-17 from the floor.
Here's the thing, though. Neither was ever in any real foul trouble, but Mitchell played just 24 minutes and Kilicli 22. Had they played, say, 35, those offensive numbers probably would have been even more impressive.
"If it was football they'd be terrific. We could sub them in on offense and take them out on defense. It would be wonderful,'' Huggins said. "We're not allowed to do that.''