MORGANTOWN - In the days leading up to West Virginia's Big East opener against Villanova Wednesday night, coach Bob Huggins would tell anyone willing to listen that his Mountaineers would not likely see much in the ensuing 18 games that they had not encountered somewhere along the line in the 12 that preceded it.
They had, after all, faced Mississippi State on the road, Kansas State in what amounted to a road game, a No. 6-ranked and unbeaten Baylor team on a neutral floor and an assortment of Miamis and Kent States and the like that had provided rather divergent looks.
"Let's face it,'' the West Virginia coach said, "This is not going to be any different than facing Kansas State.''
True, but here is what is different: Now there is game after game after game like that.
Take the very beginning of WVU's league schedule, for instance. On Wednesday night the Mountaineers got a career-high 34 points from Truck Bryant and used a late surge to beat Villanova 83-69 at the Coliseum in a game that was everything Big East games are known for - in other words, rough, physical play.
And after a mere 48 hours, the Mountaineers have to go on the road and do it all over again.
West Virginia (10-3, 1-0 Big East) faces Seton Hall (11-2, 0-1) in a 9 p.m. game today at the Prudential Center in Newark, N.J. The game will be televised by ESPN.
That, more than anything, is what the young Mountaineers have to get accustomed to. They have played Kansas State and then traveled home to face Miami less than 48 hours later. They have faced Missouri State and Baylor on back-to-back nights. But now they have to do that almost uninterrupted for the next two-plus months.
And they will have to do it with sore bodies and fatigue while playing in the most physical of conferences.
For guys like Bryant and Kevin Jones and Deniz Kilicli, that's nothing to get used to because they've been through it before. But no one else on the roster has experienced it, so it will take some getting used to.
"They were saying at halftime that the refs weren't calling anything,'' Bryant said of the freshmen who had just played their first 20 minutes of Big East basketball against Villanova Wednesday night. "I said, 'Hey, that's the Big East. Get used to it.' ''