THE TIME frame was this past Friday afternoon.
The magic of the NCAA basketball Sweet 16 was swirling. Many workplaces were set to close the doors for the week. Basketball fans or not, many were gearing for the weekend.
Meanwhile, WVU basketball coach Bob Huggins was watching high school hoops. As might be expected of the man. He was out recruiting. Which is always expected of the man.
In this case, it was the Ohio high school basketball tournament in Columbus. ("Kid just hit a leaner at the buzzer," Huggins said.)
The coach's goal, of course, is to get back to where he was a year ago at this time: heading into the Final Four. "Been out recruiting," he said. "Been all over the place. I've been out every day but Wednesday. I was in the office that day."
Overall, West Virginia's 2010-11 season was impressive if you rate Huggins and his staff. To make the NCAA tournament with the talent available and win a first-round game, well, that deserves a tip of the cap. It might not have been a top-of-the-line Huggins season, but WVU fans seem satisfied. Ditto the coach.
"Other than letting a couple games go early in the year that we shouldn't have, we had a pretty good year," Huggins said. "[Joe] Mazzulla had a good comeback. Cam [Thoroughman], when you consider whom he had to guard all year, had an incredible year. [John Flowers] was much improved."
He pointed to the brutal schedule - before predicting the non-conference portion of next season's could be even more difficult.
For that next season? Well, there are points with which to deal. The Noah Cottrill rumors of a possible return will not die. All Huggins will say is the ex-Mountaineer is not in school.
Kevin Jones is apparently looking into trying his luck with the NBA draft, although it seems a long shot he'd be selected. He had a better sophomore than junior season. He didn't establish himself as a top-line player. If someone is chatting in his ear, it's time Jones found someone else with whom to chat.
Those issues aside, though, it seems WVU is intent on more change than originally thought. Serious change. You may know of the incoming recruits: Jabarie Hinds, Keaton Miles, Tommie McCune, Aaron Brown and Pat Forsythe. We first told you of the latest addition to that list when 6-foot-8 Dominique Rutledge gave the Mountaineers a commitment.
And there will be more additions. Huggins, as always, won't talk about recruits, but a few hours spent beating the bushes chased out an apparent plan.
I wrote in this space on Wednesday the Mountaineers could take a flier on a Dayton player who has left that program, guard Juwan Staten. But WVU needs immediate help to contend in next season's Big East.
So the Mountaineers are hot on the trail of a few players to help then. Like Phillip Jurick of Chattanooga [Tenn.] State Community College.
Huggins and company appear to really like the skill and size of the 6-11 Jurick, who spent a redshirt season with Tennessee in 2008-09. There are reports the Mountaineer coach has already been to see Jurick a few times and is hoping to impress the center when the big man visits Morgantown the second week of April.
WVU will have competition. Jurick has also visited Cincinnati, Oklahoma and Southern Miss. A slew of Southeastern Conference teams are checking out the center. But there seems to be a connection between the player and Huggins.
Also, expect the Mountaineers to offer a scholarship to another point guard. It seems they've narrowed their scope to two intriguing prospects in Gary Browne of Arlington Country Day in Jacksonville, Fla., and Anthony Hickey of Christian County High in Hopkinsville, Ky.
When reached, Browne, who transferred from Puerto Rico to Arlington Country Day, confirmed the interest.