"They have a lot of guys who have been there a long time,'' said another of West Virginia's freshmen, Terry Henderson. "They know how to play the game.''
There is, of course, no substitute for experience. Well, perhaps over-the-top talent works on occasion, but besides Kentucky, who wins year after year with fresh talent alone? Think back to West Virginia's last great team, the Final Four group of 2010. It was made up primarily of seniors and juniors with only a handful of younger players (Devin Ebanks, Kevin Jones, Truck Bryant) mixed in.
That was the kind of team that could play like Kansas plays, with confidence and a swagger. Look at the number of alley-oop dunks the Jayhawks got against West Virginia.
"They have an experienced team that lives for those opportunities,'' Harris said. "When they saw the chance for an alley-oop, they took it. They know how to play the game.''
The experience gap for West Virginia is not going to go away in a hurry. That's the thing about experience, it takes time to accumulate. Arguably the two best players on WVU's roster are Harris and Henderson, neither of whom will be seniors until 2015-16.
Granted, the rather large group of sophomores this season will be largely third-year juniors next season. That's not bad as far as experience goes. The trouble is, by next season maybe half of those guys will be gone. Huggins has not hidden his disappointment with many in that class who have played, and others have been relegated to the bench for most of the season. It's hard to imagine there won't be some movement there.
All of which leaves the Mountaineers rebuilding, at least to a point, again. Four freshmen are already signed for next year. Huggins has hinted that the number of newcomers could double. Junior college guys and transfers can't be counted out.
Little of that will serve to immediately solve the experience problem, but perhaps it might provide a needed infusion of talent. That was something else that was evident in the game at Kansas, the gap in talent.
Until that happens, though, this year's Mountaineers must muddle through. There are two regular-season games remaining this week - Wednesday at Oklahoma and Saturday at home against Iowa State - before the Big 12 tournament. Then the long offseason.
"We're not giving up. We're still playing,'' Henderson said. "We'll play right to the very end.''
Reach Dave Hickman at 304-348-1734 or dphickm...@aol.com or follow him at twitter.com/dphickman1