The Rutgers Scarlet Knights come calling this afternoon in Morgantown. Since getting beaten by 21 points just ten days ago by the Mountaineers, the Knights have won two straight against UConn and Pittsburgh. Here's what I'll be watching for in the Coliseum:
- Can the 'Eers run good sets? The Mountaineers have played more uptempo than usual this year, and it may not be for the better. Despite having a 10-point lead in their last contest against UConn, WVU saw the game slip away, principally because of helter-skelter, undisciplined offense. It's in their best interest to engage the opponent in a grind-'em-out defensive struggle and run long offensive sets to get the best look at the basket. When WVU's guards are careering all over the court and into the lane, it usually ends in disaster.
- Can Rutledge contribute? Quietly, junior college transfer Dominique Rutledge has been seeing more and more minutes as the Mountaineers desperately search for front-line depth. Rutledge appears to be less polished than Kevin Noreen (as if that was even possible) but stronger and equally willing to dive on the floor. It will be interesting to see how he continues to progress, and is possible that he could be a key reserve by the time the season hits the stretch run.
- The usual. Can KJ keep it up and will Truck show up? West Virginia pretty much has a two-man team at this point, and they couldn't be an odder couple. Kevin Jones is the league's most consistent player atop the scoring and rebounding charts. Truck Bryant, meanwhile, is the streakiest player ever to set foot in Morgantown. When Truck is on, he's a scoring machine, and when he's not he's a real bricklayer. Hopefully good Truck shows up, and KJ keeps it up. The Mountaineers should handle Rutgers even if Truck has an off night, but it would be nice to see him find his groove as the conference slate heat up.