It’s time to pull the plug.
Actually, to be honest, it is past time.
Instead of threatening to bench West Virginia University’s basketball players for their shortcomings or trying to intimidate them into performing at a higher level, veteran coach Bob Huggins simply should make all his innuendos come true.
Let the veterans sit.
Play the freshmen.
When the Mountaineers host TCU at 2 p.m. Saturday in the WVU Coliseum for the last regular-season home game of the 2021-22 campaign, Huggins needs to make good on his threats.
Start true freshmen Kobe Johnson and Seth Wilson in the backcourt along with senior Taz Sherman. Then, have 6-foot-10 redshirt freshman Isaiah Cottrell and 6-8, 230-pound true freshman James Okonkwo start in the two post positions.
And don’t forget about true freshman Jamel King. Let’s see if the 6-7 small forward really can shoot as well from the perimeter as Huggins says he can.
I mean, what does WVU have to lose?
The Mountaineers already have lost seven consecutive games as well as 14 of their last 15 contests, and they’ve clinched last place in the Big 12 standings. Besides that, it has become a matter of credibility for Huggins. He can’t keep making threats and never make good on them.
For example, after a loss at TCU on Feb. 21, Huggins said, “We need to find out who really wants to finish this year and who doesn’t, and I think we’ll be way, way better off with the guys who want to finish, if there are indeed some guys who are tired of playing or tired of whatever.”
Then Huggins added, “Maybe we’re starting the wrong guys. That could be. Maybe we got some guys who shouldn’t be playing at all.”
Two nights later after a loss at Iowa State, the rhetoric resurfaced.
“I’m going to go back and look at the game,” said Huggins. “The guys that didn’t give us what we expected for them to give us are going to sit their butt over on the bench and watch the guys who do compete. And if they open their mouth on the bench, I’m going to send them home.”
As an aside, he added, “Sometimes there’s tremendous good in addition by subtraction.”
Huggins’ comments remained in the same vein after an embarrassing loss to Oklahoma.
“You’ll probably see a guy or two who doesn’t suit up for us this weekend when we play again,” he said, during postgame remarks. “If I don’t do something as many times as I’ve told them what was going to happen then I lose all credibility, and I need credibility to build this team for next year.”
What Huggins isn’t right about, however, is redshirting. Curiously enough, he still maintains some true freshmen were redshirted.
“We didn’t redshirt our two guards [Wilson and Johnson],” said Huggins. “But the rest of them we redshirted and we shouldn’t have, honestly. That’s my fault. Should have played them because by now they would be playing ahead of those other guys.”
The fact of the matter is, Johnson has started four games and appeared in 29 contests, while Wilson has played in 18 games. King has appeared in eight games for a combined 29 minutes and Okonkwo has played in three games for 10 minutes.
Let’s hope those appearances and minutes increase on Saturday.
It certainly needs to happen.