MORGANTOWN, W.Va. -- Bob Huggins is in the early stage of his 29th season as a college head basketball coach. Tonight, he'll lead West Virginia against Robert Morris and its first-year coach, Andrew Toole.
Toole was hired in May, when he was 29 years old.
Huggins was hired by the NAIA's Walsh College in Akron when he was 27 in 1980 after working two seasons as the third assistant at Ohio State. Two years later, Huggins was 29 and Walsh was 30-0 in the regular season before winning four more games and qualifying for the NAIA national tournament.
"I can only tell you what I thought," Huggins said. "I was in a great situation at Ohio State with a great team coming back. I just didn't feel like I had much impact four chairs down. When you're four chairs down, you tell the guy next to you, who tells the guy next to you, who tells the head coach. There's a lot that gets lost in translation."
The Mountaineers (5-2) put their 32-game December home winning streak on the line when they play host to the Colonials (3-4) at 7 p.m. at the WVU Coliseum. West Virginia also has won 32 straight non-conference home games.
It's a return to the Mountaineer schedule for Robert Morris, from nearby Coraopolis, Pa. The colonials visited the WVU Coliseum 20 times from 1987-88 through 2001-02, winning only twice.
Neither Huggins, 57, nor Toole, who turned 30 in September, did much of an apprenticeship as an assistant. Huggins was a graduate assistant at WVU in 1977-78 and was then hired by the Buckeyes.
Toole, who graduated from Penn in 2003 when Huggins was in the 14th of his 16 seasons at Cincinnati, was an assistant at Lafayette in 2006-07 and then at Robert Morris from 2007-10.
He took over a talented team vacated by Mike Rice's coaching move to Rutgers. The Colonials were picked to finish No. 2 in the Northeast Conference.
"What I really think is you have to be yourself," Huggins said. "I think a lot of young coaches make the mistake of trying to be somebody they're not. I think you saw that with Coach (Bob) Knight.
"He had all those coaching academies and all those things and everybody would leave and say, 'By God, I'm going to be like Coach Knight.' There's only one Coach Knight. Coach Knight is the only guy who could handle things the way he handled things."
Toole has had immediate challenges this season. Sophomore Karon Abraham was arrested last month and charged with four alcohol-related offenses, including two for driving under the influence. The 2010 conference rookie of the year, Abraham has been suspended the past four games.