MORGANTOWN — If West Virginia's basketball team accomplished nothing else with Sunday's 2013-ending romp over William & Mary at the Civic Center, at the very least it showed some grit.
And Bob Huggins just loves grit.
No, an 82-45 win over the Tribe doesn't approach a signature win. The Mountaineers still don't have one of those. They are still beating the teams they are supposed to beat and falling short against everyone else. That hasn't changed.
But there's nothing Huggins likes to see more than his teams exhibiting some toughness. Whether it's the mental toughness required to play defense and rebound every time down the floor or the physical toughness to play through some pain, Huggins figures if his players show that then, well, eventually everything else will fall into place.
And his players did both on Sunday. That they showed that mental toughness is really no big deal. A lot of that is determined by the level of competition. Staying focused and not getting discouraged or taking plays off isn't that hard against William & Mary. The real tests in that realm will come in the next 18 games against Big 12 opposition — teams capable of making sustained runs and throwing a wrench into what WVU wants to do.
The physical toughness, though, was encouraging to Huggins. And that it came from his three freshmen was even more promising.
"It goes back to the difference between being hurt and injured,'' Huggins said. "If you're injured, you can't play. If you're hurt, play.
"I'm hurt every morning. I pull myself out of bed every morning. It hurts. You've got to deal with it and play through it.''