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Smoking Musket Roundtable: West Virginia Basketball & The Big 12 Tournament

Returning to the scene of the crime, the staff got together to quickly discuss the Mountaineers as they enter the Big 12 Tournament. Was this Bob Huggins best coaching job to date? Just how far will the Mountaineers go in the Big 12 Tournament and who was the bigger snub, Jaysean Paige or Bob Huggins?

Ray Carlin-USA TODAY Sports

It's been a while guys. I missed all of you. Except you Smitty. You drank all the appletinis last time and I was left with peppermint schnapps and vodka.

Now that the regular season has concluded,does this year rank as Bob Huggins best coaching job at WVU? Picked to finish 6th in the conference, lost their leading scorer from 2015-2016, Huggins coached the team to a 2nd place conference standing and Paige had an All Big 12 type of season. What do you say?

John Radcliff: I think it's one of his best. He showed a lot of flexibility when he came to WVU and coached to the strengths of the team he had instead of the type of team he's used to. What he did last year, incorporating the press...losing his top two shooting guards...filling up the roster...winning eight more games than the previous year...getting to the sweet sixteen. You can't discard last year. But having said that, he took the lessons of last year and applied them brilliantly to this year's team. I'm going to hold off until the tournament is over before I say it was his best season or not. But it's certainly one of them.

David Smith: Concerning the conference ranking thing, you have to keep in mind that the outside media probably didn't realize that the Mountaineers played very well in big games without both Juwan and Gary last year (in Lawrence IIRC.) When a program is losing their two senior leaders like that, it's natural to think there would be a dropoff, so that preseason rank is a little fraudulent. That being said, I agree with John. This metamorphosis into the press has been incredible and Huggs deserves just as much credit as he received when the program looked like it was capsizing, but I would put last year ahead of this year only until we see the final results.

Jake: While I agree last year was a breath of fresh air and Huggins deserves a lot of credit for switching to the press, year 2, to me, is a much better coaching job. Jonathan Holton, despite his suspension, was able to stay on the floor and play meaningful minutes. Huggins turned Paige into a scoring machine, often telling him "They can't stop your first step and they are scared to foul. Drive the ball to the rim." I agree with David that many pundits saw the loss of the top scorer and All Big 12 player Juwan Staten but I think this year's coaching job was amazing. Outside of a OU-Texas blunder, the team found ways to wins when it shouldn't have.

Heading into the Big 12 tourney, WVU has a first round bye, meaning they actually get to see the quarterfinals. How deep does the team go this year?

John Radcliff: I think we get one win for sure. But past that, this conference is too good to bank on anything. I think we saw that in conference play where the best team lost three conference games and the second best lost five. I like where the team is at health-wise and as far as the momentum of winning their last four games. It would be nice to get to the championship game. But we're at the point where our seeding in the big dance doesn't change much depending on what we do in the Big 12 tourney.

David Smith: Welcome to the "not playing Baylor or Texas in our first game" Big 12 Tournament. I fully expect Texas Tech to beat TCU and they are solidly on the bubble.

Dumb Texas

It's now or never for the Raiders, but I think the Mountaineers can overcome that. OU/ISU should be a blast of a game to watch and I'm gonna say WVU beats ISU to eventually be the conference runner up to Literally Hitler.

Jake: I'm predicting big things for WVU in the Big 12 Tournament. Mike Casazza posted about the off chance that WVU could earn a #1 seed. I don't see that happening but there is no way that anyone could deny WVU a #2 seed if they beat Texas Tech, Oklahoma and Kansas in three straight games. I think WVU makes it to the championship and this year, without the Phog to back them, WVU takes down Kansas.

WVU Court Storm

Big 12 Awards were announced on Sunday. Bigger snub: Jaysean Paige being left off First Team All Big 12 or Coach Huggins not winning Coach of the Year?

David Smith: Huggs. Jaysean can't even get into the starting five on his own team.

Oh Snap

John Radcliff: Huggs. Paige getting the sixth man award recognizes his special situation with the Mountaineers. He's clearly good enough to start...not just for WVU.

Jake: Oh snap Smith. You went there. Actually Paige is on record as saying he prefers to come off the bench. I think the bigger snub is him. You can make the argument that the team picked to finish 6th and eventually finishing 2nd is a great coaching job, like I did in question 1, but Tubby Smith took a 13-19 team picked to finish last to 19-11 and solid bubble NCAA team. I dont feel slighted with that selection. Paige was an unstoppable scoring machine and clearly was one of the best in the Big 12.