MORGANTOWN - To say that the early part of the season has been a challenge for West Virginia's basketball team would be a bit of an understatement.
The Mountaineers began with a cross-country trip to face nationally ranked Gonzaga, then faced three games in four days in a highly competitive Old Spice Classic in Orlando. They didn't play their first home game until a week ago, which was more than two weeks after the opener.
And along the way WVU lost three of those first four, matching the school's worst start in history.
So, as the Mountaineers wind down a week of practice before Wednesday night's annual battle with Marshall at the Charleston Civic Center, Bob Huggins was asked if perhaps it was good to face all of these struggles early - perhaps as a warning shot to a young team that things aren't going to be easy.
"Well, that's the theory we're hanging onto,'' the West Virginia coach said.
At this point, it's perhaps one of the few positives the Mountaineers can wrap themselves around. And, in all honesty, it's probably true.
Given that West Virginia's roster is made up of mostly freshmen, sophomores and transfers playing their first seasons in Morgantown, there are a lot of things Huggins has to teach this group. And losing, he figures, provides better teaching moments than winning.
He'd still rather win, of course, but when looking for silver linings it's best not to be choosy.
"I do think that sometimes when you don't play anybody and [win], what are you supposed to do?'' said Huggins, whose team has lost three games against quality competition and won in routs over outmanned Marist and Virginia Military. "What are you supposed to do, come out after beating VMI the way we beat VMI and yell and scream about how we didn't do certain things right? I think that does fall on deaf ears.
"That's the advantage of playing people.''
Indeed, after losing a lopsided game in that opener at Gonzaga, there were plenty of teaching moments for Huggins. There were more after close losses to Davidson and Oklahoma in Orlando.