What the Hokies don't come back with this season - and what makes an even bigger difference than the roster shakeup - is Erick Green. A year ago, Green led the country in scoring and was the ACC player of the year. He's gone now, and with him went Tech's identity.
And so second-year coach James Johnson is trying to piece together parts that might help the Hokies improve. Like Huggins, he could throw together a starting five made up of relative veterans, but he doesn't.
With Green, Barksdale and Robert Brown (transferred to UAB) all gone from last year's lineup, Johnson is starting veterans in the frontcourt and rookies at guard. The best of those frontcourt players is 6-7 senior forward Jarell Eddie, the only Hokie besides Green to average in double figures a year ago. In the backcourt are true freshman point guard Devin Wilson and UNC-Wilmington transfer Adam Smith.
West Virginia, meanwhile, seems likely to play again today without sophomore guard Terry Henderson, who is still dealing with a shin injury. Huggins said Henderson went about 10 minutes in practice Monday, but that was it.
What Huggins would like to see today that he didn't see in Friday's 77-62 win over Mount St. Mary's is better defense and rebounding. The defense, of course, is subjective, but the rebounding isn't. Against a guard-oriented team, the Mountaineers were beaten on the boards 30-28.
"I think over the years those are two things we've done probably better than most,'' Huggins said of defense and rebounding. "We're fortunate we made some shots [WVU shots 67 percent in the first half and 56 percent for the game], but as we all know there's going to be some games when those shots don't go down. We're going to have to stop people and stop them from getting second shots.''
After today's game, the Mountaineers have the rest of the week off until a Sunday afternoon home game against Duquesne. Then there are home games with Georgia Southern and Presbyterian next week as preliminaries to the Cancun Challenge in Mexico the week of Thanksgiving.
Reach Dave Hickman at 304-348-1734 or dphickm...@aol.com or follow him at Twitter.com/dphickman1.