Kevin Kinder \

West Virginia and Marshall Meet Thursday for the First Time Since Coaches Had Exchange

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. - There wasn't much to begin with, and there's been none lost between West Virginia and Marshall, particularly on the basketball side.

That little four-letter word that can mean so much - or so little, in this case. Following last season's West Virginia victory over Marshall, its fourth in a row and eighth in the last nine series games, MU head coach Dan D'Antoni accused WVU of being "afraid" of the Herd if it refused to play not just the game in Charleston, but ones in alternating on-campus sites as well. D'Antoni went on to say Marshall was back, despite the defeat to WVU being the Herd's sixth in a row in a streak that eventually reached 15 of 16 on the way to an 11-21 record. West Virginia, meanwhile, finished 25-10 and reached the Sweet 16.

Huggins responded to the remarks by noting that Marshall's main contribution to WVU's schedule was lowering its strength. He also expressed displeasure at the very hint of West Virginia being afraid, and took D'Antoni to task for saying Marshall was back in the midst of losing half a dozen games in a row. So it was that Huggins came to be asked during the Big 12 basketball teleconference if he and D'Antoni had the chance, during the offseason, to perhaps patch things up, break bread, extend the proverbial olive branch.

"No," Huggins deadpanned.

That semed to be that, until Huggins added that he hasn't seen D'Antoni. Still, it doesn't appear the two are all that eager to speak, either. As is often the case with this soap opera series, it's a sideshow of meaninglessness to keep an eye on during Thursday's game. On the topic of actual basketball, Huggins said he thought West Virginia (8-1) has "done a pretty good job with full court pressure. We need to be more consistent offensively.  We played well at times offensively, but then not so well at times. I think that is the one area we need to shore up and become more consistent there."

Huggins also noted that the difference in officiating has become a game-in, game-out struggle to learn exactly how the crews will interpret the new rules in a given game. Sometimes the whistles are quick, and even limited contact with regard to freedom of movement is called. Then there are games where it's more relaxed, where greater physicality in the post is tolerated. The difference has forced teams to figure out how games will be called, and have a feeling out process each time.

"I wish (the rule interpretations) could become more constent," Huggins said. "We have had to adjust game by game. I think it'd be a lot easier for everybody involved if there was a little bit more consistency."

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