MORGANTOWN - Bob Huggins would have you believe that there's no such thing as a good technical foul, no matter how auspicious the timing.
"I don't know what you enjoy about watching guys make two free throws,'' Huggins said Saturday afternoon.
That's his public take on the matter, though. Coaches can't be seen as manipulating officials into reacting to their rants, or those officials will stop reacting. Or, worse yet, they will react when coaches don't want them to react.
But Huggins knows as well as the next guy that technical fouls can be a useful tool in motivating a group of 18-to-22-year-old kids toward a goal.
Now, whether his explosion at Tim Higgins in the second half of West Virginia's 72-58 win over No. 8 Notre Dame was of design can be debated. It was, after all, a spur-of-the-moment thing. Joe Mazzulla drove to the basket, wound up pretzelized on the floor when he ran into the Irish defense and didn't get a foul call.
It was but an instant later that Huggins was being restrained from going any further onto the floor and Higgins was reporting the technical to the scorer's table. Usually, a strategic technical takes a few moments to percolate while a coach rides an official. This one was instantaneous, so either Huggins didn't really plan it or over the last 30 years he's become really, really good at the art.
Again, he would have you believe the former.
"I didn't have any method to my madness," Huggins said when asked that very question. "I thought there was a foul, and I kind of expressed that, maybe a little too vehemently. I don't know, you're not supposed to have any emotion, I guess."
That's when he made the crack about not particularly enjoying watching Notre Dame's Tim Abromaitis step to the line and make two free throws to cut West Virginia's lead to 50-42. But then he did admit that all was not lost in that sequence.
"I thought we played with a lot of enthusiasm after that," Huggins said.
The question, though, is did the technical foul - whether it was intentional or not - accomplish anything? Again, that's always a matter for debate because of the uncertainty surrounding what might have happened sans the incident, but the results were hard to argue with on so many levels: