There aren’t many coaches over the past few decades that have been as successful as Bob Huggins. The head coach of West Virginia’s basketball program has over 900 wins, a handful of conference titles and a few individual awards.
Huggins was recognized as an elite coach this past September, as he was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.
Although he has already accomplished so much over the years, Huggins isn’t ready to call it a career. That’s because his love and passion for the game is still very strong.
We caught up with Bob Huggins to discuss the upcoming college basketball season, his future at West Virginia and more.
The Spun: What’s the biggest challenge coaching in the Big 12?
Bob Huggins: I think it’s a great coaches’ league. Everywhere you look, we’ve got great coaches. You’ve got new guys coming in, young guys coming in with better ideas than some of us who have been here a while. When I first got in the league, Coach Knight was still in the league, and Rick Barnes and others. It’s been a great coaches’ league for years, and I think it will continue to be for years to come.
The Spun: How has a day in the life of a college basketball coach changed for you over the years?
BH: I’m old, that’s what changed. We practice for hours. Every once in a while, I got to sneak over there to my high chair that I saw Patrick Ewing had. I don’t have to bend down to sit on a stool or anything. I can just walk over there, sit on a chair for a few minutes, refuel and then get back out there.
The Spun: Has it officially sunk in that you’re a member of the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame? Or will you think about that more once your career is over?
BH: I think you always think about it. It’s a tremendous honor, and for me, it was special because my two presenters were Jerry West and Rod Thorn - two of the greatest ever to represent West Virginia University. Being around those guys was great in its own. It was a great time. I spent time with George Karl. I learned a lot from him. I’ve always enjoyed being around coaches and learning from them.
The Spun: The starting lineup this season will look vastly different. What needs to happen in order for West Virginia to get back on track?
BH: I think he biggest thing is to get our guys out of the training room. We’ve got three of our better players who have had some injuries, coupled with some things from the hospital. We got to get them out of the training room and back on the floor. They’re going to make our team much, much better once they’re back on the court. Our guys have been great. They’re practicing hard, they’re listening. They may throw it around a bit too much. I keep telling them to throw it to a guy who has the same color shirt you have on - that’d be tremendous. We’re getting better, and that’s the important thing. We’re understanding the way we do things. I think we can make a run.
The Spun: What are your goals heading into the 2022-23 season?
BH: It’d be nice to bring home a trophy. It’d be lovely to win a conference championship, go on to the NCAA tournament and win that. I think we have the ability, if we continue to improve, to get through. It’s a grind, man. It’s really a grind. This league is not easy at all. If you look at the coaches around the league, it’s just fantastic.
The Spun: In your experience in the Big 12, what's the toughest road environment?
BH: Well, I think the first place that comes to mind is Kansas. They put whole cities in there. They got so many people in there yelling and screaming. I think it’s better because then the players can’t hear Bill [Self]. I’m just kidding. If you’re fortunate enough to be up towards the end of the game, the crowd really does make a difference because you cannot hear a thing.
The Spun: You've been adamant about not setting a timeline yet regarding potential retirement. Why is that?
BH: I enjoy what I do. I’m the son of a coach. I grew up going to practice with my dad, going to games with my dad, going to clinics with him. I love it. I love being around coaches. If I quit, I can’t be around the coaches. I’d have to get on the radio and do what you do. I don’t want to do that, I just want to coach basketball.
West Virginia will begin its 2022-23 season against Mount St. Mary’s on Nov. 7.
You can read more of our interviews with athletes and media stars here.