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West Virginia senior Nathan Adrian epitomizes Mountaineers’ character

West Virginia forward Nathan Adrian  shoots the ball during open practice, Wednesday, March 22, 2017, in San Jose. (Colin Mulvany / The Spokesman-Review)
West Virginia forward Nathan Adrian shoots the ball during open practice, Wednesday, March 22, 2017, in San Jose. (Colin Mulvany / The Spokesman-Review)

SAN JOSE, Calif. – Four years ago, when West Virginia was not yet Press Virginia and the seniors who have led Mountaineers to the Sweet 16 were just getting to know their coach, Bob Huggins took his team down a coal mine.

“I want them to understand what they represent,” Huggins said. “We are a hardworking state. People go through a lot. They spend their money coming to watch the Mountaineers.”

Huggins also pointed out the Mountaineers have the privilege, and responsibility of being the only show in town. There are no major professional sports teams in West Virginia, nor is there another Power Conference college.

The Mountaineers carry the banner for the state when it comes to sports, and Huggins wanted his players to understand the people they represent.

Senior forward Nathan Adrian embodies the industrious spirit Huggins sees in his home state on the court. Adrian, like Huggins, is from Morgantown, where WVU is located.

Adrian was recently named to Sports Illustrated’s All-Glue Team. He plays at the top of WVU’s vaunted full-court press and achieved some internet fame during the Mountaineers game against Kansas State by physically ending a fight between teammates Tarik Phillip and Teyvon Myers before it could escalate.

“Those guys have known each other their entire lives. They’re like brothers. They just like arguing and were arguing at the wrong time,” Adrian said. “They started arguing at the wrong time and I had to say something.”

Adrian added that such scrapes are a common sight at WVU’s practices, and that such scrappiness can only benefit a team, and state, that prides itself on toughness.

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