The last time the West Virginia Mountaineers took the court, hopes were high. They'd just beaten Villanova and things were seemingly starting to gel for the young team ... and then they ran into Herb Pope and Seton Hall. The Mountaineers got absolutely trounced by the Pirates and all of a sudden the future looked dismal for WVU. It's been a long five days since then, and tonight the young 'Eers square off against the Rutgers Scarlet Knights. Here's what's worth watching tonight from the RAC:
- Can Kevin Jones get any help? Kevin Jones has been a beast so far this season, averaging 20 points and 11 boards per contest, but he's also taking a beating. Jones took a shot to the eye two games ago which required stitches and twisted his ankle in the 'Eers last contest. Despite the pounding, he just keeps chugging along. What would benefit him and the team in general would be some decent play by any of WVU's other big men. Deniz Kilicli is equally banged up, and has been far from consistent when he was healthy. Kevin Noreen has played admirably in relief of an injured Pat Forsythe, but can't compete with the talent in the Big East yet. Simply put, Jones has been a one man wrecking crew this season, a trend that shows no sign of changing.
- Which Truck shows up? Truck Bryant has always been a streaky player, but this season he's taking it to new levels. After going off for 34 against Villanova, he responded with a disastrous 3-for-16 against Seton Hall. That's not just bad, that's epically bad. The Mountaineers don't have a lot of options when it comes to putting points on the board and Truck is going to have to contribute in order for the Mountaineers to win. The problem is, when he misses 13 shots, that's 13 opportunities for the other team to turn things around in transition. The Mountaineers should coast tonight, but if Truck plays like he did against Seton Hall, that simply won't be possible.
- Where are the freshmen? The freshmen disappeared against Seton Hall, only to appear momentarily to turn the ball over or make a stupid foul. While the tandem of Jabarie Hinds and Gary Browne have looked great so far this season, they looked lost against Seton Hall. To be sure, the competition has gotten stiffer for the young Mountaineers a trend that looks likely to continue with Georgetown and Connecticut right around the corner. The 'Eers simply don't have enough upperclassmen to go it alone, and will need positive minutes out of those two, as well as Keaton Miles and Kevin Noreen. If those four can hold the rope, WVU should coast. If they can't, then it will be an ugly grind it out game, which will be the Mountaineers to win or lose at the buzzer.