MORGANTOWN - Considering how coaches and the players who remain are reluctant to discuss the distractions and obstacles they've encountered lately, don't expect West Virginia to ever admit this:
Compelling evidence suggests everything Mountaineer basketball has been through is everything they needed.
"I think it's a stretch to say I wanted it, but I've never been one to run," WVU Coach Bob Huggins said. "That's kind of what I told them. When people think you can't do something, that's a great time to do things."
His Mountaineers had problems and limitations this season ... and that was before freshman forward Kevin Noreen's season-ending surgery, Dan Jennings's desertion and leading scorer Casey Mitchell's suspension left Huggins with just eight scholarship players.
Only seven have played the past two games. So, for now, WVU has seven or eight players - but has returned to the Associated Press media poll at No. 25 this week.
"Coach Huggins has told us all year he just needs seven or eight guys to go out and play for him," said senior Cam Thoroughman. "That's all he wants and he's had trouble finding that."
Well, thanks to a variety of trouble, that's all Huggins has right now. There's nothing the Mountaineers can do - at least until Mitchell does whatever it is he has to do to get back with the team - except adapt and advance.
Even when Mitchell returns and the team grows by one, it's still a small roster and Huggins will continue to focus more on halfcourt than fullcourt in practice and occasionally cut an hour or so off to keep legs fresh.
Yet WVU (14-6, 5-3) is a team that doesn't score much, and is better served guarding and rebounding and grinding out halfcourt offensive possessions.
That was the recipe late last season, when WVU ultimately won 10 in row, and this team has responded with two team-oriented performances.
It has happened quickly, too. WVU went 1-1 on a critical road trip - and could have easily been 2-0 - to position itself in a tie for fourth in the Big East entering Wednesday's 7 p.m. home game against Seton Hall (10-12, 4-6).
"With everything Huggs said, we didn't look at it as a negative," senior point guard Joe Mazzulla said. "He was excited. It starts with him and he could have panicked, but it's different to have a coach who stands there and thrives to get in that situation with his back against the wall and no choice but to fight out of it."