NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 09: Darryl Bryant #25 of the West Virginia Mountaineers drives passed Jae Crowder #32 of the Marquette Golden Eagles during the second round of the 2011 Big East Men's Basketball Tournament presented by American Eagle Outfitters at Madison Square Garden on March 9, 2011 in New York City. (Photo by Nick Laham/Getty Images)
Villanova comes to Morgantown to open Big East play against the Mountaineers.
Back from Vegas, where the Mountaineers split their two games against Missouri State and Baylor, the sledding gets even tougher for WVU as it enters Big East competition. In the Villanova Wildcats, WVU squares off against a 7-5 team who is as young as they are. Anything can happen, and the real season is just beginning. Here's what I'll be watching Wednesday night:
- The banged up Bigs. Junior forward Deniz Kilicli is battling a hip pointer he picked up in Vegas. While it didn't keep the Turk out of the contest against Baylor, it greatly inhibited him and limited him to just 15 minutes of court time. Equally troubling is that Kilicli's touch seems to be gone. He's rimming out short shots that had been dropping previously. Once he gets his rhythm, he'll be a huge part of the equation. Until then, the Turk has as many question marks as anyone in blue and gold. Junior college transfer Dominique Rutledge played very well in Kilicli's place, and can expect to get more minutes going forward, as will redshirt freshman Kevin Noreen.
- Can Truck make a shot? Darryl Bryant is the team's second leading scorer, averaging sixteen points per game. Sounds great, doesn't it? Not until you realize he's doing it on 39 percent shooting, which has effectively meant that he turns the ball over repeatedly with terrible shots. If Kevin Jones isn't under the bucket ready for a put-back, then the ball is usually going the other way fast. Truck needs to continue to score, but he also needs to be efficient about it for WVU to succeed.
- Kevin Jones is a boss. He's leading the Big East in points and rebounds, and it doesn't get any better than that. Jones is in the midst of one of the finest single seasons for a Mountaineer ever, but he needs some help. "But from who?," is the most common question perplexing Mountaineer fans right now. It could come from the quick freshmen guards, Jabarie Hinds and Gary Browne, who have each had their moments, both good and bad. It might come from Keaton Miles and Kevin Noreen, two young players who have a lot of learning left to do. It should come from Bryant and Kilicli, who have been plagued by injury and the overwhelming desire to just chuck it at the rim. Right now, nobody knows, and it's the most perplexing thing about WVU. It's the reason to watch Wednesday night.
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