NCAA

Bob Huggins: A Great Coach but a Better Person

By Austin Snodgrass

\I was just an 18 year old kid who played basketball in high school and always dreamed of being a basketball coach.  I knew after my senior year at Butler High School that my playing days were over but I knew what I wanted to do.  I wanted to be a basketball coach at the high school or college level.  I knew I had to go to a big university with a basketball program so I could try to be a manager for the team to learn more about the game of basketball.  My brother had an AAU coach, Howie Ruppert that happened to know Bob Huggins and could help me get a manager job at WVU.  Coach Ruppert set me up with the team and I will be forever grateful for what he did for me.

I got to WVU and immediately started attending basketball functions and as you can imagine seeing Coach Huggins on TV, I was scared to death.  I will never forget Coach Ruppert telling me before I went to not worry, Huggs is not like that he is misunderstood.  I have seen many articles this week about Huggs because he is going for his 800th career win on Saturday.  I wanted to give a first hand account because I spent four years at every practice with Coach Huggs.

On a cold winter morning, we had practice at 8:00 AM.  It was common for managers to show up early for practice.  I happened to be by an entrance to the gym and Huggs walks in and I’m sure he didn’t know my name yet but he asks me, “hey can you go get me a coffee at Panera.”  I am thinking to myself, “oh crap, I hate coffee, I’ve never gotten a coffee in my life.  How much cream do I put in the coffee?  How much sugar?”  Obviously I agreed and I go to Panera get the coffee and come back and give it to Huggs.  I was scared because what if I put too much cream or sugar in it.  Of course in the soft spoken voice that we get outside of practice he says this is great, thank you.

I could share numerous stories with you from my years at WVU but I don’t have enough space in this article.  I can’t begin to express what Coach Huggins has meant to me as a person and as an aspiring basketball coach.  I have a notebook from my time at WVU where I would go home and write down plays or drills from the previous practice.

—April 3, 2010

West Virginia vs. Duke in the Final Four in Indianapolis.

What a season this was for us.  We won the Big East Championship and had a chance to reach the National Championship.  WVU had Da’Sean Butler, who had a season for the ages.  He was the reason we were playing in the Final Four.  With 8:59 left in the second half those hopes came to an end when he twisted his knee and fell to the ground.  I will never forget what I saw after that.  Huggs came onto the floor and consoled Da’Sean.  Everyone was surprised to see this but that is Huggs.  He loves his players, he loves all of his staff.  The cameras show him yelling and screaming but that isn’t always Huggs.  Was everyone who loves WVU and is      affiliated with WVU upset they lost to Duke?  Of course, but that moment stuck with me and i’m sure every fan.

Tomorrow, Coach Huggins is going for his 800th win.  He will become just the 10th person ever to spend at least 10 years as a Division 1 coach and win 800 games at a four year college.  He is no doubt a future Hall of Famer and I got to spend four years with him at every practice.  My whole time there and now I feel like the luckiest person in the world.  I am not able to pay enough money to receive all that knowledge.  I go to numerous practices and numerous games every year since I graduated from WVU and he continues at every practice to shake my hand and say hello because that’s Huggs.

Of course, I will be in attendance tomorrow to see him win 800.  I’m sure he isn’t thinking about 800 now but once he retires he no doubt will.  I will forever be thankful for what he and his    program did for me.  He got me in the door and he taught me more than anyone ever has.

 

Love ya Huggs

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