Man, that wasn't fun to watch. At all. Objectively, it's the Mountaineers' worst loss of the season, getting run off of the court by a 16-point margin, and it couldn't have come at a worse time. While the Mountaineers were theoretically getting better with the return of Casey Mitchell, but there was zero evidence of that today. What I'm puzzled by is:
Why no defense? The Villanova guards lit up the Mountaineers' today. Corey Fisher and Malik Wayns provided buckets of points when the 'Cats need them most. Joe Mazzulla and Truck Bryant had flashes of competence, but all day the 'Nova guards dictated what was going to happen on their possessions. That great, disrupting Mountaineer defense was nowhere to be seen. Whenever John Flowers would try to mark a guard instead of a forward, Fisher or Wayns would dump it to an unguarded big man for an easy basket. It wasn't pretty.
- The offense is still struggling. It would be nice to think that Mitchell's return would have meant that his 16 point per game average would return with him, but that didn't seem to be the case. Mitchell was a non-factor with only 13 minutes played. The sum of his afternoon was a pair of turnovers, a pair of rebounds and three ill-advised shots. Not good. However, I'm not blaming Mitchell for the loss, by any means. No Mountaineers shot well, save for John Flowers and Kevin Jones, both of whom had functional afternoons, but only because the Wildcats refused to guard them at the perimeter. Truck Bryant missed huge stretches of the game with fouls and injury, and Joe Mazzulla couldn't get any offensive rhythm going.
- The guys who need to fill in the gaps on offense, didn't. Deniz Kilicli and Dalton Pepper are guys who need to see their offensive game grow by leaps and bounds down the stretch. Villanova's variety of defenses had the Turk guarded closely in the post and he was never able to set up the moves that he's known for. The WVU guards couldn't get him the ball, and he was generally stymied the entire game. Pepper had moments of greatness, burying three triples, but also jacked up a few ill-advised shots early in the possession that led to some run-outs for the Wildcats. Pepper has shown improvement over the last couple of weeks, but right now he's still far away from being able to be counted on to contribute consistently.
- Time to Brawl. The 'Eers drop to 6-4 in conference, and the logjam in the Big East shifts, slightly. The Mountaineers are now in a five way tie for fourth. Things don't get easier, as Pittsburgh comes to Morgantown for Big Monday. While a fiercer opponent than Villanova, Pitt actually matches up a little better with the Mountaineers, both with the size of their team and their style of play. It doesn't ever get easier in the Big East, but it never ceases to be entertaining.