Depth Not A Concern For Huggins

Head coach Bob Huggins remained consistent, as did the status of Devin Ebanks, as the Mountaineer basketball team arrived in Charleston for Tuesday night's game against The Citadel.

"Devin will not be here," Huggins said of the game in the state capital. As for possible attendance at the 76 Classic in Anaheim, Huggins said he did not know. West Virginia will travel to Cincinnati following the Tuesday night game for a flight to Los Angeles, and while it would be possible for Ebanks to connect with the Mountaineer squad on the West Coast, Huggins declined to speculate.

Given Ebanks' absence and injury issues with Joe Mazzulla and John Flowers, Huggins could be forgiven if he were worried about depth. However, in his usual style, West Virginia's third year head coach reiterated that he expects all of his players to be able to contribute.

"Our depth is fine," he said. "I think our younger guys are getting batter and learning a little more. We are more comfortable putting them in the game, and our older guys are getting back to where they were before."

WVU's tight schedule, with four games in the next six days, as well as a cross-country flight, is also a concern. Again, however, Huggins does not view that as something to worry about.

"I think you can look at a couple of ways," he said of the long break since the opener last Sunday. "We needed to play some games, but if you want to be on TV then you play when TV says you are going to play. But the other thing is that we have gotten more practice than anyone else has gotten. Hopefully we will do a better job when things are thrown at us than we would have otherwise."

Huggins added that he couldn't recall a team that had so many missing players at the start of a season, but joked, "I'm getting old. Probably, at some point in time, we did, but I don't remember."

Flowers is expected to play, but Huggins remained a bit coy when discussing Mazzulla.

"He's practiced but its just a matter of when we want to get him in the game."

That decision is apparently one that is up to Huggins alone, but it would seem that Mazzulla would need at least a few minutes against The Citadel to help him be ready for the tough competition of the 76 Classic.

"I think the competition is all good," Huggins said of the action this week. "We need to play some games and tomorrow gives us the opportunity to play in front of a great crowd. Then we go to Anaheim, and Long Beach is good. They are picked to win their league, and they will probably be an NCAA tournament team. That will be a good challenge, as will the rest of the tournament."

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Freshman Danny Jennings is one of the players being counted on to help fill the gap in the frontcourt, and Huggins has seen improvement in his play during the off week.

"Hopefully Danny will rebound it for us the way he rebounded it in the first game. He has rebounded it consistently in practice, and I think his offensive skills are getting better. He's getting more comfortable with the way we are trying to play.

Huggins also had another pointed comment for those that were predicting a drop-off in play in the Big East this year.

"Everyone is saying the league is down, and we 'only' have six teams in the Top 25. Any other league in America would be doing cartwheels if they had six teams in the Top 25, and it's a down year for us," he noted drily. "I think the people that were not as good a year ago have gotten a whole lot better. The bottom part of the league has taken a quantum step forward."

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