MORGANTOWN - No one could be happier about West Virginia University men's basketball success than Charlie Huggins of New Philadelphia, Ohio.
He happens to be a retired high school basketball coach and the father of Bob Huggins, WVU's third-year head coach.
"We were really excited for him when the Mountaineers won the Big East championship," the elder Huggins said from his home earlier in the week.
"No, I wasn't surprised. It looked like they have added a little more desire to really play good defense than they have in the past. Yes, defense was something we stressed when I was coaching."
Huggins coached basketball 27 years and has been retired since 1983. His teams at Indian Valley South High won at least two Ohio state championships.
One was in 1967 and his team won close contests in back-to-back fashion for the state title. "The ball was in the air when time ran out," he recalled.
That came to mind as Huggins watched on TV as West Virginia won three games by a combined total of just seven points last weekend in Madison Square Garden for the league title.
Indian Valley South also captured the state championship in 1972 when Bob Huggins, then a senior, led the way in a perfect 26-0 season. Ohio only had two classifications then.
Charlie Huggins had a very solid program, though. His teams won 51 games in a row at home in 1970, 1971, and 1972. So his son had a hand in that record winning streak.
West Virginia heads into the NCAA Tournament with a 27-6 record, Top 10 national ranking, and a No. 2 seed. Such success doesn't surprise Charlie Huggins, though.
"Nothing Bob does surprises me," he said. "We're certainly happy for him. I won't say 'proud' because we sort of maintain a sense of humility."
The Morgantown native doesn't even want to reveal his coaching success. Asked how many victories he had during his career, he said "I don't pay too much attention to that, but I'd say it was 400 and some."
He admittedly has been impressed with Da'Sean Butler, WVU's most outstanding player. The senior superstar from Newark, N.J., has scored more than 2,000 career points to rank third behind legends Jerry West and Hot Rod Hundley.
"His strong point is that he is good on both ends of the floor," Huggins noted. "He certainly does a lot for this team. Butler is accustomed to pressure. That's one reason they win."
Huggins, now 76, attended 13 of the 14 WVU home games this season. Now he's ready to follow the Mountaineers in their pursuit of more success on the NCAA Tournament trail.
The elder Huggins has been retired since 1983. He is a graduate of Morgantown High. He attended WVU a year, then finished his playing career at Alderson-Broaddus College.
As an All-Stater at MHS, Charlie made 18 consecutive free throws in the state tournament in the early 1950s. That might well still be in the record books.
He thinks a player who misses a foul shot really doesn't have the right techniques. He didn't say whether he passed that thought on to the Mountaineer mentor.