MORGANTOWN, W.Va. - Cleaning out a crowded notebook and a cluttered mind while waiting to go back to Texas. Again:
For the record, the trips have been worth it for the Mountaineers, who are now 3-0 there, including a Jan. 9 win over Texas in Austin. And by the way, when this whole Big 12 thing began in the fall, who among us expected that West Virginia would be 3-0 vs. Texas (the university, not the state, and two of those in Austin) in football and basketball, and 6-10 against everyone else?
Anyway, Bob Huggins was asked about the travel the other day after the TCU game by a Texas reporter who at least showed the self-awareness to preface it with, "I know you've probably been asked this a thousand times.''
"I don't know. I honestly don't know,'' Huggins said of whether the constant on-and-off of airplanes was affecting his team at all. "We're going to fly 31,400 miles. You realize that's like one and a quarter times around the world?''
There's little anyone can do about it, of course, so why dwell on the subject? Huggins, whose team has faced far more challenges than just travel this season, certainly isn't.
"You know what I decided? I decided I'd never been through a year like this and I'm not going to be unhappy when we win,'' Huggins said shortly after Saturday's 63-50 win at TCU. "I'm going to be happy. We're going to get us some barbeque, we'll get on that plane and head back and then turn around Tuesday and come back to Waco.''
A three-game losing streak by Kansas (which hasn't won since beating WVU by two points in Morgantown) and a three-game winning streak by West Virginia (which hasn't lost since that Big Monday game) will do that in a hurry.
That the Mountaineers have accomplished their little mini-run against the three worst teams in the Big 12 is, of course, well chronicled. And because of the state of that competition, everything else has to be approached cautiously.
But there are some signs that this team might be coming around, not the least of which is better shooting. As Huggins was quick to point out last week, that might have as much to do with improvement in other aspects of the game (running offense, getting offensive rebounds for easy put-backs, forcing turnovers that are converted into layups, etc.) as it does pure shooting, but that's improved, too.
"We're getting Eron [Harris] and Terry [Henderson] more shots,'' Huggins said of the two freshmen guards. "They're our most consistent perimeter shooters.''
Indeed, while adjusting to the college game, Harris did not have a game in which he attempted double figures in shots through the first 14 games. He's had six in the last eight games. And while Henderson's shot attempts haven't increased - they've actually decreased of late - that's because he was struggling with a bad back. Now he's working his way back and is 8 of 10 on 3-pointers the last three games.