West Virginia went out tonight, won a very winnable game, and looked absolutely bored doing it. Right down to letting Seton Hall threaten to cut the lead to single digits late, but not so bored as to actually let the thing slip away. It was anything but pretty, but it got the job done.
- The short bench continues. Eight guys got into this one, with Jonnie West seeing some minutes and taking advantage by hitting a three. In the first half, everything looked sharp, and Cam aThoroughman led the team out of the gates, everntually finishing with a career high ten points. Cam's night included, amazingly, some long distance shooting. With Joe Mazzulla running the point, things seemed to run smoothly, and actual plays get run. With rumors of Casey Mitchell returning are early as Saturday, and the Dominion Post floating the idea that Danny Jennings could even return, this team's complextion may change soon. I'm hoping this lean and mean Mountaineer team will have established the tone for the rest of the season. Cam, Joe and JFlow are the leaders, and it may not be pretty, but it's gonna be effective.
The logjam in the Big East. West Virginia is now in a four way tie for second place. Only Pitt has one loss, and they are followed by a pack of four 3-loss teams. This makes things look pretty positive for postseason potential, but anything can happen. The road gets really tough, and the two games in three days against ranked teams facing the 'Eers this weekend will tell a lot about this team. By the time the Mountaineers are done with Monday's Backyard Brawl, we'll know if this team is poised to make a run, or is just hanging on for dear life. Over the last week and a half, the Mountaineers are playing surprisingly good basketball, despite being down a couple men. Really, anything can happen.
- Kevin Jones drops a grand. Jones becomes the 47th player in school history to cross the thousand point mark. This is obviously a big accomplishment, but I was more impressed with how well Jones played underneath the basket. He finished with 13 points and 12 boards, 5 of them offensive. He played the role of a big man tonight, only settling for jumpshots once the game got out of hand. He, Cam, John Flowers and Deniz Kilicli all finished with doubles figures tonight, making it a very productive evening for the Mountaineer front court.
Defense wins championships. It's obvious that this Mountaineer team, especially playing only 7 or 8 guys, isn't going to beat anybody by lighting it up. However, playing ugly, and defensive, great things can happen. John Flowers was his usual acrobatic self tonight with a couple of high flying blocks that had the Coliseum crowd on their feet. He drew the task of guarding Seton hall star Jeremy Hazell, and held him to one basket for the evening. While it seemed obvious that Hazell was still recovering from his injuries, it's still quite a feat. As a team, the Mountaineers held the Pirates to under thirty percent shooting, but the Pirates seemed to contribute their fair share with some awfully off-mark shots. Either way, if this team can continue to disrupt the opposition, they're going to be in a lot of ballgames.
Saturday, Villanova. Monday, Pittsburgh. Then we'll know what kind of team we have on our hands. If West Virginia can get one of these, then things could be looking good to really compete in March.