After suffering a heart breaking defeat like West Virginia did against Kansas, you never know how a team will react going forward. Some teams play emotionally hungover and apathetic, others are able to turn the loss into fuel and play angry. According to head coach Bob Huggins, the Mountaineers are choosing the latter of the two approaches.
One thing became clear from listening to Huggins reflect on the recent loss to the Jayhawks - it still irks him and he feels as if his team wasn't entirely to blame for the defeat.
"I'm going to have a lot of things to say when I retire, I'm going to have a lot of things to say," Huggins said. "For now I'm going to try to save my money so I can retire."
But after a little bit of prodding Huggins decided to let loose and express his thoughts on some the late game officiating in Monday night's contest.
"I could say a lot of things about what happened the other day," said Huggins. "You can't guard guys out of bounds. That's illegal. There's a lot of stuff that went on that shouldn't of went on. You can't plan for that. To think that it doesn't affect our guys mentally, it does. Obviously we made some mistakes but we weren't the only ones that made mistakes. You can't plan for that. You can't line them up and say 'they're going to guard you out of bounds now, they're going to be on the other side of the line chasing you around.' You can't plan for that.
"You can live with (losing) so much better when it was your fault and when you screw up. If I screw up I apologize to them and if they screw up they apologize to me. With this loss there are no apologies."
While Huggins was no doubt displeased with the events that transpired in the final few minutes of the Kansas game, he knows West Virginia must move forward with the season, but by no means does that mean the Mountaineers will forget about the loss and let it go. In fact, Huggins said that's almost impossible to do.
"You can't ever get it back," said Huggins. "It's gone forever. Losing a game is like losing a day, it's gone and there's nothing you can do about it. You can't get back the days you felt like working out and you didn't work out. You can't get those back. It's all gone. That's what nobody understands. When you lose a game or lose a day you're never going to get it back. The officials are fond of saying 'let it go', well yeah, (the officials) can let it go because it doesn't mean to you what it means to us. You say 'let it go' and you probably do, but we can't do that. It stays with you."
Huggins then expanded on his comments and said he wants the loss to sting a little bit and he hopes it serves as motivation for the Mountaineers going forward.
"I'm firmly of the belief that I want it to (stick with the Mountaineers)," explained Huggins. "I want an edge. I want to coach with an edge and I want our guys to play with an edge. I told them yesterday, 'Let's just go win out and play (Kansas) again in the conference tournament. Hopefully then all of that won't happen again. If it does I won't be around to watch."
West Virginia had two days off of practice to recover from the close loss and began practicing again on Thursday, and according to Huggins he saw a determined group and felt it was one of the better practices the Mountaineers have had in recent memory.
"We're going to play with an edge," repeated Huggins. "They were really good in practice yesterday. It was probably the best practice we have had in a long time. I think we can use it and play with an edge."
If the Mountaineers play half as angry as Huggins, it could be bad news for Texas Tech when the two teams square off on Saturday afternoon.