The West Virginia Mountaineers travel to the Charleston Civic Center this evening to face off with the Morehead State Eagles of the Ohio Valley Conference. This early season tilt is played in the state capital to appease Charleston area WVU boosters who would like to see more of the Mountaineers. Earlier in the week, WVU head coach Bob Huggins threatened to take more Mountaineer home games to Charleston due to lack of attendance early in the season in Morgantown. Here's what I'll be watching for:
- The continued ascent of Kevin Jones and Deniz Kilicli. I've got to say, though the season is still very very young, I've been impressed with WVU's big men. Jones appears to have taken it upon himself to make sure he's looking for points at all times, and has succeeded so far this season. Kilicli who, up until now, has played like a traditional European big man, eschewing the paint in favor of a mid range offensive game. In the Mountaineers last two contests, Kilicli has looked like a man possessed, crashing the boards with a fervor and averaging nearly eight boards per contest. I didn't think it was going to happen so quickly, but these guys keeping up their inside dominance will be a key to the Mountaineer's season.
- The growth of the guards. Freshman guard tandem Jabarie Hinds and Gary Browne have shown flashes of greatness so far, but also glaring reminders of their inexperience. Hinds, who arrived on campus as the more highly touted of the two, has made progress in each contest and shown the quickness and agility which he was recruited for. The continued development of these two is essential to West Virginia's success as the season progresses.
- The logjam in the frontcourt. It's still impossible to predict who will get reserve minutes out of the frontcourt. Pat Forsythe seems to be at the top of the heap backing up Jones and Kilicli, but after that, it's anyone's game. Keaton Miles continues to start at small forward despite not having made a positive play so far this season. Paul Williamson played admirably in the last contest, soaking up a bunch of productive minutes that would have otherwise gone to Aaron Brown. The walk on showed heart and toughness, hitting a couple of open threes, and playing great defense. The tandem of Dominique Rutledge and Tommie McCune still seem to be finding their roles.
- Can Truck be a positive force? Truck Bryant will finish his WVU career after this season as one of the most perplexing guards in school history. While he has been called on to lead the team, along with Jones and Kilicli, it seems Truck can't be counted on for consistency. He's a decent defender with the potential to be a prolific scorer. Despite averaging 15 points per contest so far this season, his play has been sporadic at best and Mountaineer fans have to wonder if it's a better team when he's not on the court. At his best, Truck is a valuable asset, at his worst, Truck holds the team back. Which Truck will show up tonight? Hard to say, but worth watching to find out.