MORGANTOWN, W.Va. - Bob Huggins didn't somehow wake up one morning during the offseason and find that he'd turned into Jim Boeheim.
Nor did he have any sort of epiphany regarding the Syracuse coach and the way he famously sets up the schedule for his Orange basketball team.
At least in part, though, Huggins lived the Boeheim life early this season.
"I kind of like this,'' Huggins said the other day. "I don't know why I'm playing Purdue and Gonzaga and some other people.''
Indeed, while Gonzaga and Purdue await next month - and while Huggins today finds himself in Cancun, Mexico with the likes of Old Dominion, Saint Louis and No. 12 Wisconsin (combined record, 15-1) - what his West Virginia basketball team has faced to date certainly cannot be termed as challenging.
There was Mount St. Mary's and Duquesne, a couple of teams that occasionally might rise to a highly competitive level but are anything but that this season. There was Georgia Southern and then Presbyterian in a three-day span. They are, and Huggins will admit it, walkovers.
Shoot, West Virginia sort of even followed the Boeheim philosophy of almost never leaving the state of New York in the first two months, even for road games. The only West Virginia trip so far was to Virginia Tech, so until getting on a plane bound out of the country on Sunday the Mountaineers hadn't left the Virginias.
All of this is fairly significant, of course, because through the first five games of the season West Virginia is 4-1. At least part of the reason is that Syracuse-like schedule.
A year ago today, Nov. 26, the Mountaineers were 1-3. They had opened the season at Gonzaga. They played three games at a tournament in Orlando, Fla. They had yet to suit up for a game in the Coliseum.
Why the dramatic difference in scheduling? Well, a couple of reasons. In some ways it just worked out that way. The Mountaineers are playing an early-season tournament just like last year, but it's a week later and under a different format - two tune-ups at home (Georgia Southern and Presbyterian) and then the trip to Mexico. So there was room early for a couple of other home games.
More specifically, though, the scheduling is a bit by design. Huggins saw what a brutal opening stretch could do a year ago to a team with some experience, and the last thing he wanted to do was put a much younger team through the same grind.