Joe Mazzulla

West Virginia's Joe Mazzulla (21) dives for a loose ball during the first half of the NCAA Big East Championship college basketball game against Georgetown on Saturday.

MORGANTOWN — This will probably sound like a strange question to you, so you will have to bear with me.

I am neither crazy nor senile, despite my advanced age.

And yes, I am aware that West Virginia University currently is riding a five-game losing streak, all conference games, with a rugged week ahead of with AP No. 14 TCU and No. 10 Texas coming into the Coliseum this Wednesday and Saturday.

But anyway, here goes the question:

Are we all being too hard on the Mountaineers?

Hear me out.

According to the Associated Press Top 25 that came out on Monday, WVU has played three of the nation’s Top 8 teams, four of the Top 13 and five of the Top 21.

And by the time this week is over and the TCU and Texas games are history, WVU will have played one-third of the nation’s Top 21 teams — No. 2 Kansas, No. 3 Purdue, No. 7 Texas, No. 8 Xavier, No. 13 Kansas State, No. 14 TCU and No. 21 Baylor.

That’s like a boxer having matches with Ali, Frazier, Liston, Foreman, Louis, Dempsey and Rocky (take your pick, Marciano or Balboa).

You are going to come out of it a little punch drunk, and that’s where WVU is at it stands at 10-7 and at the bottom of the Big 12 standings.

“It’s the hardest league in America, it’s the best league in America. Anything you look at has it that way ... and we have the fourth toughest schedule in the country to date,” Huggins said in his Monday media session.

It wasn’t said as an excuse, not even as a explanation of what’s happening.

It was just stating reality.

To win in the Big 12, you have to have everything going for you and WVU hasn’t had that. Early on it was turnovers, now it’s free throws. Fix one thing, another goes bad.

It’s that and the fact that getting a team together almost from scratch in the portal era has been far more difficult than Huggins imagined.

He said he got a call from his former player Joe Mazzulla, now coaching the Boston Celtics, on Monday night.

“Joe loves West Virginia. He loves the basketball program. He and I have a very close relationship. It was about what’s going on in the program and how do we continue to fix it.” Huggins said. “He was at the Oklahoma State game, sitting right behind the bench, and able to take in a lot of things which we talked about.”

But if anything hit home it was when Mazzulla noted what made the Final Four team special, other than Da’Sean Butler’s clutch plays.

“The one thing he said was ‘We had the advantage of playing together all those years,’” Huggins said. “Albeit, John Beilein played one way, we played another, but they all played together. They knew each other.

“With the advent of the portal and freedom of movement, it’s a different game. It’s going to take some time for people to adjust. The people who are winning are the ones who have been together.”

Huggins truly believes he’ll get this fixed and that they aren’t far away, something that was echoed by Tre Mitchell after the one-point loss to Oklahoma on Saturday.

“Being a guy that has been in a similar situation as far as being a new guy on a team with a bunch of new transfers (at Texas), I’ve seen what happens,” Mitchell said. “Off the court, we gel perfect. We’re friends, arm and arm 24/7. On the court, we’re so talented that everybody thinks it’s their turn.

“We need to start understanding that it could be anybody’s night any given night. The reality of the situation is if you are not going offensively that night, you can impact the game a different way. You can get the ball into the hands of someone who is hot that night.

“It’s just that little piece of recognition we’re missing right now. We’re close. We’re really close.”

Follow @bhertzel on Twitter

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