YE OLDE (lengthy) notebook:
The man has only Kevin Jones, Truck Bryant, Deniz Kilicli and Kevin Noreen returning for next season. His team plays in the toughest conference in the country. He has nine newcomers.
On the hoof, it doesn't seem to add up to success, right? Yet Huggins is, well, optimistic.
"We have a very, very talented bunch," said the coach. "If they stay together, I'm telling you now, we could have something special."
He may not mean this coming season, but keep in mind the Mountaineers will be taking a trip to Italy this summer. When asked about that, Huggins glowed. (OK, OK ... so as much as he can glow.)
"[The trip] is going to help us a lot," he said. "We've got 10 practices. I think it will bond the guys, although they've been terrific. They stick together. Anytime you see any of the freshmen, you see three or four of them. It's a little bit like the Cam Thoroughman, Joe Mazzulla, Jonnie West guys.
"We're excited. We think we've got a great group put together."
Huggins said he might practice some this month, recruit and finish at the beginning of August. (The trip is in mid-August.)
But back to the upcoming team. The coach said Jones and Bryant give WVU two returning 1,000-point scorers for the first time in school history, and said center Noreen "has made huge strides."
"I mean," Huggins said, "from a 210-pound kid who got knocked around all over the place to a 250-pound guy who is knocking people all over the place."
"Dana is one of us," Huggins said. "I think that's the best thing I can say. Dana truly wants what's best for this university and what's best for this football program.
"He's a very, very intelligent guy. I don't know a lot about football, but I know a little about coaching and we talked about that and the people in this state.
"I said, 'West Virginians are very hard-working people. They're a very proud people, and they are people that have a lot of loyalty. When you can get your guys to do that, reflect that, understand that's what they represent, people are going to appreciate that.'
"He understands, believe me."
Justice said the Greenbrier East girls team won a tournament in Richmond, Va., and the boys team finished as runner-up in its category. This past week, the Spartans were in Myrtle Beach, S.C., and experienced more success. According to Justice, the boys defeated past Class AAAA champ Carolina Forest. They closed out play by defeating national power Socastee 72-57. Spartan senior Hunter Roberts had 33 points. In the first round, East lost to another former state champ, Summerville, 62-45.