Virginia Tech has not yet played a game this season with a full complement of players. The 15th-ranked Hokies don't have all the pieces they want or all of the pieces they need.
In this context of limitations and imperfections, Virginia Tech (6-1) hopes its starters will be reasonably good at home on Wednesday night against VMI (5-4) in Blacksburg, Va.
Ahmed Hill struggled in a Nov. 27 loss at Penn State but got back on track this past Saturday in Virginia Tech's 94-40 win over Central Connecticut State.
Hill, 0 of 6 from the field and held scoreless in the one-point loss to Penn State, will try to provide something of value to his team to help ensure that Virginia Tech's thin bench won't be overtaxed.
Last Saturday against Central Connecticut State, Hill bounced back from his performance against Penn State to to score 24 points and lift the Hokies to a win.
"I was very motivated," Hill said. "I just knew people would think that it was like last year, how if I was down in confidence, I wouldn't play well. But I'm kind of over that this year. I just go game by game and moment by moment."
A performance such as the last one from Hill is what Virginia Tech will be counting on against VMI.
VMI gave Kentucky a battle in Rupp Arena on Nov. 18 before losing 92-82. The Keydets scored 48 points in the second half and got 35 from sophomore guard Bubba Parham, who hit 10 of 16 3-point shots in a dazzling display.
VMI is difficult to assess three weeks into the season. The Keydets have won five games, but only two against Division I teams, and they're coming off a 65-45 loss to Longwood.
After scoring 82 points against Kentucky, VMI scored barely more than half of that total against Longwood on Dec. 1. The Keydets' overall shootingnumbers against the Lancers were 27 percent from the field, 18 percent from 3-point range and 42 percent from the free throw line.
"We had a tough time getting into a rhythm," VMI coach Dan Earl said. "Starting the game, I don't know if we had the same pop that we needed to have.
"We had some turnovers and were a little careless with the ball. Throughout the game we played hard. I just think we couldn't figure things out.
"Basketball is about decision making. Credit Longwood. They played very good defense and they were up in us quite a bit and I don't think we adjusted well."