Any time you play basketball in the Big East, you'd better be prepared for a challenge.
If your roster is stocked with freshmen and other newcomers, well, let's just say the degree of difficulty goes up a bit.
That's the dilemma facing West Virginia as it prepares for the start of preseason practice next month with seven freshmen and a junior college transfer on its roster. The Mountaineers return just three players from last season's 21-12 squad that reached the third round of the NCAA tournament - Kevin Jones, Truck Bryant and Deniz Kilicli.
Coach Bob Huggins, who was at the Civic Center Thursday night to receive the inaugural Luminary Award from the Salvation Army Boys & Girls Clubs of Charleston and St. Albans, realizes what he's up against this season.
And it didn't help matters that his team's schedule, which was released Wednesday, includes some other early-season tests before the Mountaineers dig into their Big East schedule.
"Probably in hindsight, we may have overscheduled a little bit,'' Huggins said. "We've got five games on ESPN to start the season - that means they're five good games. Then you throw in Oral Roberts and Akron and people who are very capable of beating us.
"But I hope in the end, it's good for us. I hope it prepares us for the Big East season and the grind that is the Big East. The hardest thing is the grind. You've got to grind it out, and you've got to be able to go all the time.''
Huggins got an advance peek at his youthful club last month as the Mountaineers took a two-week visit to Italy. It was a playing vacation, as they interspersed five games with trips to the Vatican, the Colosseum and the Forum.
"It was huge,'' Huggins said. "We got 10 practices [before the trip]. We just didn't get to play very good competition because they start their seasons a little later.
"Culturally, it was unbelievable for our guys to see what they saw. It'll be something they remember for the rest of their lives. And just the camaraderie. A lot of places, they were the only people who spoke English, so you kind of have to bond and work things out. So I thought it was terrific for us.''