Well, I did manage to get some work done today. Now that I'm back home and have processed today's win, here are the things that jumped out at me.
First off, Truck Bryant may be the Mountaineers' most important player, and he showed why today. With 22 points, he matched his career high and he got it in every way. He was pretty decent from the line, unlike the rest of his teammates. From the field, he hit a pair of threes, but was at his best when he was pushing the ball into the interior of the defense. A legitimate threat to score in the paint, Truck makes defenses react to him and that benefits all the Mountaineers on the floor.
When the offense stagnated last season it was because of a lot of standing around holding the ball. If Truck keeps things moving, the Mountaineers should score plenty of points.
At the two-guard, we got our fair share of good and bad. Casey Mitchell got hot, which looked great, but also made his share of mental mistakes on the defensive end. Dalton Pepper continues to improve his ability to create off of the dribble, for better and for worse. After beating the Wildcat defenders to the rim for an easy layup on one possession, he followed it up a minute later with the same move, which worked... until his dunk attempt thudded against the rim resulting in a run-out for Davidson. In a lot of ways, that play perfectly summed up the game: beautiful start, ugly, ugly finish.
While the guard play leaves me feeling optimistic, the forwards were completely perplexing. On one hand, Danny Jennings broke out in a big way, hauling down ten boards and contributing offensively as well. On the other hand, Deniz Kilicli was a complete non-factor. Amazingly he only played six minutes and managed to foul out. Huggins in his postgame radio address seemed to assert that sometimes the Turk just doesn't really want to play. Who knows, but he played like a guy who didn't want to appear in the scorebook, save for his five fouls.
Kevin Jones had another sub-par shooting night and fouled out along with John Flowers, who also managed to leave the game with nearly ten minutes left. It was a brutish and ugly game in the paint, and WVU came out on the better end of it, but it still seems perplexing because it was just that hard to watch. Jennings and Jones combined to go 6 of 15 from the free throw line which meant every time they got there it was an adventure. Luckily for the Mountaineers there's plenty of size to go around, and they could still matchup with the Davidson big men after the starting frontcourt all fouled out.
All in all, despite being brutally ugly with nearly seventy personal fouls resulting in nearly eight free throws, a win is a win is a win. In this case, WVU stays perfect in the tournament and advances to a matchup with Vanderbilt tomorrow. Take care of business and the Mountaineers are positioned to get three quality wins in this tournament, and return to Morgantown a better basketball team.