Thursday, March 23, 2006

Huggins a Wildcat

It appears that Bob Huggins has accepted the position as Head Basketball Coach as Kansas State University. I will have more later...

From the KC Star...

Huggins a Wildcat

Ex-Cincinnati basketball coach accepts K-State job
The Kansas City Star
MANHATTAN, Kan. — Bob Huggins, who resurrected the men’s basketball program at Cincinnati, has accepted the job as basketball coach at Kansas State, a source close to the program told The Star late Wednesday night.
A news conference is expected today.
Huggins, 52, replaces Jim Wooldridge, who was fired March 9 after six seasons.
Neither Huggins nor K-State athletic director Tim Weiser could be reached for comment.
Huggins told The Cincinnati Post earlier Wednesday night that he declined to comment.
However, Huggins’ attorney, Richard Katz, told The Star early Wednesday night that something might be in the works.
“As far as I can tell you now, there is nothing to report,” Katz said. “There could be something later or tomorrow.”
It all went down sooner rather than later. And, with Huggins, the hiring surely will make a splash at a school hungry for the postseason. K-State has not appeared in the NCAA Tournament since 1996. The Wildcats last played in the NIT in 1999.
Huggins is 567-199 in 24 seasons as a head coach at Walsh, Akron and Cincinnati, where he led the Bearcats to 14 straight NCAA Tournament appearances and a Final Four in 1992 before leaving the school late last summer after his wish to receive a contract extension was not granted.
In December, Huggins told The Sporting News what he wanted in his next job.
“I want to work with people who care. I’d just like to work with people who are honest, who care about kids who are going to work as hard as myself and my staff at trying to make guys as successful as they possibly can be,” Huggins said.
Huggins might not be coming alone — and that could be a huge bonus for K-State.
An Associated Press report Wednesday out of Columbus, Ohio, indicated two top junior players in that state might follow Huggins once they are done with high school.
One of them is O.J. Mayo, twice Ohio’s Associated Press Mr. Basketball. Mayo, a 6-foot-5 swingman, averaged 28.8 points, 8.8 rebounds, 5.8 assists and five steals at Cincinnati’s North College Hill. The team finished 24-1.
The other is his teammate, 6-6 power forward Bill Walker, who averaged 22.4 points.
“That could be right,” Mayo told the Associated Press about joining Huggins. “At the same time, we don’t want to go to a raw program. We have to see where he ends up, what the school’s fan base is like, see what the fans think about him, and make sure everything is great.”
Reports have stated Huggins denied he has had any agreement with Mayo and Walker.
A native of Morgantown, W.Va., Huggins played for the Mountaineers from 1975 to 1977.
His heroes growing up? NBA legends Oscar Robertson and Jerry West — and World War II Gen. George Patton, who had a reputation for being a tough guy.
Sounds like Huggins.
He was cut in 1977 after trying out with the Philadelphia 76ers. When he pursued a master’s degree after failing to catch on in the NBA, Huggins sold athletic shoes.
His first coaching job came soon thereafter. He was an assistant from 1978 to 1980 at Ohio State before spending 1980-83 as head coach at Walsh College, going 71-26. Huggins became assistant at Central Florida for the 1983-84 season but got back into head coaching for good starting in 1984 at Akron. The Zips went 97-46 in his reign, including one NCAA Tournament berth and two NITs.
Huggins took over at Cincinnati in 1989. Immediately, he set the bar high.
“This is a job where you can be in the Final Four every year. To me, that’s what it’s all about,” Huggins said in a published report.
In his first two seasons with the Bearcats, Huggins guided them to the NIT. In his third season, in 1991-92, they made it to the NCAA Tournament for the first time in 15 years. But it was so much more than that.
Cincinnati advanced all the way to the Final Four. It was the first and only time Huggins got the Bearcats that far.
Trouble struck in 1998 when the NCAA took away three scholarships from the Bearcats’ program and placed them on two years probation for lack of institutional control over the program.
Huggins almost departed Cincinnati for home in 2002. West Virginia was seeking a replacement when Gale Catlett retired. Huggins, however, turned down the Mountaineers.
A year later, in 2003, Huggins received a scare. He suffered a massive heart attack in late September in the Pittsburgh airport. Two weeks later, though, he was back in his office. The brush with his health altered his lifestyle.
“I’ve changed. I sleep now,” Huggins said in a published report.
Huggins encountered another off-the-court-issue in 2004 — one that landed him in court. Huggins was arrested for drunken driving in June and was suspended with pay for 77 days by the university. He eventually pleaded no-contest, was convicted and was ordered to attend an alcohol education course.
His run at Cincinnati ended before the 2005-06 season when the school refused to extend his contract, which had two years remaining. He was given two options: resign or be fired. Huggins agreed in principle to leave.
The news about Huggins had K-State abuzz late Wednesday.
“I guess my first thought is he’s had some success, but he’s also had some issues,” former K-State player Ed Elder said by phone.
Don Moser, a K-State season-ticket holder from Washington, Kan., who came to watch the women play in the WNIT, likes the idea of Huggins in purple.
“I think it’s fantastic,” Moser said.
Huggins wasn’t the only candidate on K-State’s radar. Former Northern Iowa coach Greg McDermott, introduced Tuesday night as Iowa State’s new coach, was sought by the Wildcats.
Northern Iowa athletic director Rick Hartzell told the Ames Daily Tribune that K-State was the only school other than Iowa State to ask for permission to contact McDermott. K-State made that request Saturday. But on Monday night, McDermott accepted the Cyclones’ offer.

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