Thank goodness Bob Huggins’ hair is already gray.
Otherwise, the last two West Virginia University men’s basketball games would have turned it that color.
And who knows?
The way things are going, the veteran WVU head coach just might turn a little grayer considering the Mountaineers host No. 23 Kansas at 2 p.m. Saturday in the WVU Coliseum.
Time to purchase some “Just For Men,” perhaps?
But it’s obvious WVU’s last two performances haven’t done anything for Huggins’ mood, not to mention hair color.
It all began with an 85-80 loss to the University of Florida a week ago in Morgantown. The Mountaineers noticeably faded down the stretch and it didn’t sit well with Huggins.
“Um, you know, I’m not a witch doctor and I’m certainly not a cardiologist,” said Huggins during postgame interviews. “So, at some point in time, I think they might want to get tired of losing these games.
“You know, a lot of guarding is wanting to. I mean, I’ve had guys who were maybe not as fundamentally sound as other guys, but they guarded their tails off because they took a lot of pride in it. I just don’t see a lot of pride. I don’t see anybody getting mad when their man scores. Maybe you guys have seen something I didn’t, but I haven’t seen anybody upset.
“They just can’t wait to get it out of bounds and go the other way. That’s not a good thing. It has got to matter to you. Everybody gets mad when they miss a shot. You ought to get mad when your man makes one.”
That was Huggins’ mindset as WVU took off for Ames, Iowa, to face Iowa State. Considering the Cyclones’ record was 2-9 overall and 0-6 in the Big 12, this was supposed to be a “get well” victory.
Yes, the Mountaineers led 63-48 with 10:16 remaining, but with 1:37 left on the clock WVU’s lead was down to 74-72 and it was anybody’s game. WVU had let Iowa State back into the game by making only one of its last seven shots and not having a field goal during the final 5:46.
The Mountaineers finally pulled out a much-tougher-than-expected 76-72 win.
Did that make Huggins happy? Of course not. Why would it?
“We let down,” he said during a postgame Zoom meeting. “We let down when we get ahead like that. We let down. We’ve done it repeatedly.”
That prompted a question asking what needs to change with March Madness on the horizon.
“I think you have to care,” replied Huggins. “I think you have to care about your man scoring on you. I think you have to care about not helping your teammate by not making a rotation. I think you have to care about not blocking somebody out.
“I think we get ahead and we just kind of stand around. There was a situation that when they were making their run, they take a shot from the corner, it hits the front of the rim, it bounces twice and we had two guys there and they never took a step. And [Iowa State] picked it up and then made another 3 to make it ... I think that’s what cut it to two points, if I’m not mistaken.
“They didn’t take a step. That’s just hard for me to fathom. All the years I’ve done this, all the years I’ve coached guys. And it’s not just defense, it’s everything. Don’t dribble the ball 25 times between your legs and not go anywhere. They still do it.”
Huggins shook his gray mane and continued.
“I know one of the big plays that really hurt us,” he said, “we had a layup and we threw a wraparound pass to a 5-foot-9 guy who can’t score in traffic. And when we lose the ball, they come down and make another 3.
“Why? You know? I keep asking them, why? Why? Why do you have to dribble between your legs so many times? It hasn’t helped your shooting any. Hard group to figure out.”
The only constant is Huggins’ increasingly gray hair.
Call it “Fifty Shades of Huggs.”