PITTSBURGH - After 30-plus years in the game, there are a lot of guys in the coaching fraternity that Bob Huggins considers friends. The fact that he refers to Gonzaga's coach as "Fewey'' leads one to assume that Mark Few is among those.And he is. Just ask Few."All I can tell you is he's a great guy. He's a guy's guy. He's a great guy,'' Few said Wednesday on the eve of the NCAA tournament game between the Zags and Huggins' West Virginia team. "He's always treated me great. He's one of the real big-time coaches in college basketball way back when."My first year as a head coach, we played his Cincinnati team that I thought would have won the national championship that year if Kenyon [Martin] hadn't broken his leg. We had a great year, competed, enjoyed it. I think he's one of the real characters left in college basketball that just isn't afraid to say what's on his mind. He's the same way on the court, off the court, in front of you guys. I think that's a real neat quality to have. I think when it's all said and done, when you look back at everything he's done, I mean, he's got Hall of Fame-type credentials. I'm a big fan of his.''
There's one area, though, where the two stray philosophically. Somehow, Huggins has embraced the idea of social media, having within the last month opened a Twitter account. Few? Not so much."You're dealing with probably one of the all-time great dinosaurs in regards to social media here,'' Few said. "I don't have email. I don't do Twitter. I don't do Facebook. And I'm awful darn proud of the fact that I don't. I understand it's out there, it's not going anywhere. God bless all those people who do use it, but at this point in my life I don't really have any interest in it.''nn
Guard play could be crucial tonight when West Virginia and Gonzaga play, and it might be the guards who shrink in the spotlight who affect the outcome more so than those who rise to the occasion.Both teams like to play three guards. Gonzaga starts three and Huggins' favorite lineup when games are tight features three guards. When all six of those guards are on the floor, four of them will usually be freshmen - WVU's Jabarie Hinds and Gary Browne and Gonzaga's Kevin Pangos and Gary Bell.Then again, when West Virginia is at its best, the only senior among those guards is usually the key - Truck Bryant."He has to make open shots,'' Huggins said of Bryant, who famously this season scored 32 points in a win at Providence and zero the next game in a loss to Notre Dame (a month or so after scoring 34 in a win over Villanova and then 11 in a loss at Seton Hall). "Truck has struggled at times to make open shots, but he's our best perimeter shooter. He's our number-one option on the perimeter.
"[Kevin Jones, WVU's leading scorer] has been pretty consistent. When neither one of those guys play well, we're pretty bad. When we get both of them playing well on the same night, we're pretty good.''Bryant was asked about Pangos, who is Gonzaga's leading scorer as a freshman."I look at him just as another guard. My guards on my team are freshmen. To me, Kevin is another guard, another freshman,'' Bryant said. "He hasn't been here before. He doesn't know what it's like to play in this type of environment. At the end of the day, we've got a freshman point guard, they got a freshman point guard. That's how I look at it.''nn
If West Virginia hopes to win, it is likely to be a close win. After all, nine of the Mountaineers' last 13 games have been decided by six points or less. They have played six overtime games this season.All of which indicates a propensity for not finishing games. In many of those losses the Mountaineers led. Five times this season West Virginia has led games by double figures and lost."I think we've lost 10 games by 29 total points,'' Huggins said, being only slightly off - it's eight games by 29 points. "I mean, that's a lot. We haven't finished games.''Who is to blame? Well, take your pick, Huggins said."If it was just one guy that was screwing it up all the time, I wouldn't play him in the second half. But it hasn't been. It's different guys,'' Huggins said. "You know, you could go down through all those games and it's not always the same guy - not always the same guy who throws the ball away, not always the same guy who commits some other kind of turnover, it's not the same guy that, with an opportunity to put the game away, goes to the foul line and doesn't make shots. It's been a total team effort.''Reach Dave Hickman at 304-348-1734 or firstname.lastname@example.org
or follow him at Twitter.com/dphickman1.