West Virginia coach Bob Huggins offered a concise explanation for the patented press that helped the Mountaineers beat No. 5 Notre Dame 83-71 in the second round of the NCAA men's basketball tournament on Saturday.
"It's different, I think," Huggins said on the CBS telecast. "I think it's different, and people don't see it all the time."
"Different"doubles as the perfect description for this No. 4 seed, which reached the Sweet 16 in the West Region one year after losing to No. 14 Stephen F. Austin in the first round of last year's tournament.
West Virginia is more than just that full-court press, which earned the moniker “Press Virginia” over the last few seasons —even if that led to the early-knockout punch against the Fighting Irish. The Mountaineers jumped out to a 10-0 lead and forced 10 first-half turnovers while compiling 20 points in the paint. West Virginia forced 14 turnovers, the same number as the 86-80 win against No. 13 Bucknell.
The Mountaineers also had that all-important guard play against Notre Dame. Jevon Carter scored 24 points. Daxter Miles Jr. scored 18 points. West Virginia had seven different players hit double figures in those two wins.
"They just win," Huggins said on the CBS telecast. "It's never one guy. It's a multitude of guys, and they compete like crazy."
The Mountaineers have a dangerous press, balanced scoring and a team that seems more than prepared for the West Region semifinals in San Jose, Calif.
West Virginia is 10-4 since February, and the four losses were to tournament teams Oklahoma State, Kansas, Baylor and Iowa State. This also is the Mountaineers' fourth Sweet 16 appearance in eight tournament trips with Huggins. The sting of last year's first-round upset is forgotten now, but should we expect anything different from this year's team? West Virginia's last Sweet 16 trip resulted in a 78-39 loss to Kentucky in 2015.
Huggins appears to have a different team this time, one poised to replicate the school's Final Four run in 2010. That press is "different,"all right, and everybody will get to see it in the Sweet 16 spotlight. Huggins, a coach more often criticized for the early tourney exits than recognized for his success, sees it that way.
Huggins was asked how he will celebrate this win. He answered in similar curt fashion.
"I'm going to go recruit," he said on the telecast.
We wouldn't expect to hear Huggins say anything different.