MORGANTOWN - By the time West Virginia finds out who it will play and then wraps up what is sure to be a fairly intense day of workouts to prepare for Thursday's NCAA tournament opener in Tampa, gone should be the malady that worked against it in last week's Big East tournament.
The Mountaineers were sick, and that was more than a description of their on-court performance in a loss to Marquette.
That's why in the time between that one-and-done loss and when the NCAA brackets were announced Sunday night, West Virginia took it easy. There were days off and lighter practices, not necessarily to rest, but to recover.
"We were a little beat up. We were sick,'' coach Bob Huggins said. "Cam [Thoroughman] was really sick, Joe [Mazzulla] was a little bit sick in New York. We just need to get guys healed up. We did enough [in practice], I hope, to keep our legs.''
After West Virginia's 67-61 loss to Marquette on Wednesday night, several players talked about poor practices leading up to the game. Huggins admitted the practices were, indeed, rather awful by his standards.
"But when you've got nine guys and you get some guys sick and pale and don't feel very good, it's hard to have a good practice,'' said Huggins, who also mentioned Deniz Kilicli and Jonnie West among the ill last week.
Whatever the reason, though, West Virginia is intent upon putting both those practices and the most recent performance behind it. The Mountaineers need to do that one way or another by shortly after noon on Thursday, when they play either Clemson or Alabama-Birmingham at the St. Pete Times Forum in Tampa.
"Nobody's holding their heads down and everybody knows that this is a new season for us,'' forward Kevin Jones said. "We're starting 0-0. Hopefully we get to 6-0. That would be great for us.''
The sickness that went through the team wasn't the only reason Huggins wasn't particularly hard on his players in the days between the loss in the league tournament and now. There was also the matter of the unknown.
Leading up to Sunday's NCAA tournament selections, the Mountaineers (20-11) had no idea for whom they should prepare. And then revelation of the brackets didn't help much, either, when West Virginia was assigned a No. 5 seed and paired against a play-in game winner.
Clemson (21-11) and UAB (22-8) play late tonight (9 p.m., TruTV) in Dayton for the right to advance into the bracket against WVU.
"I don't know that we were easier on them. But what are you going to do? What are you going to prepare for?'' Huggins asked. "You don't have any idea what style of play is coming. You don't have any idea whether they throw it to bigs or if they're guard oriented. Do they play fast, play slow? You don't have any idea. So what are you going to do?