MORGANTOWN - Even with what passed for a full roster of players at his disposal, Bob Huggins knew the road trip that West Virginia is about to embark upon would be a difficult one.
Now, though, the Mountaineers are going to Louisville and Cincinnati short-handed.
With the suspension of leading scorer Casey Mitchell now added to the bizarre mid-game departure of Dan Jennings, West Virginia faces this week's road trip - and perhaps longer - with a roster that now includes just eight active scholarship players.
The trip begins with today's 7 p.m. game against No. 23 Louisville (15-4, 4-2 Big East) at the new KFC Yum! Center and continues with a Saturday night contest at Cincinnati (17-3, 4-3). West Virginia (13-5, 4-2) has won four of its last five games, but that was at relatively full strength.
Still, Huggins is trying to look at things optimistically and is fairly convincing in his effort to do so.
Take the contributions of Mitchell, for example. Yes, he ranks fourth in the Big East in scoring (16.6 points per game), but has been wildly inconsistent from game to game.
"I don't mean this demeaning toward Casey in any way, but we beat Purdue - who is pretty good - and Casey got six [points],'' Huggins said. "It was those guys who are going to play on Wednesday and those guys who are going to play on Saturday. I don't know why we can't win.
"I don't mean anything derogatory toward Louisville or Cincinnati because I think they're both very, very good, but they're not any better than Purdue. We just have to go do what we do.''
Mitchell was suspended indefinitely by Huggins Monday for an unspecified violation of team rules. Huggins said on his statewide radio show Monday that Mitchell would not return until he lived up to the things Huggins was asking him to do in order to be reinstated. That could be in a few days, a few weeks or never.
Jennings, meanwhile, is no longer with the program. He walked off the team's bench during Sunday's win over South Florida.