The Times West Virginian

WVU Sports

February 9, 2012

HERTZEL COLUMN: It’s unfair to consider Truck villain

MORGANTOWN — The zero next to Truck Bryant’s name stood out like an obscene gesture during a Super Bowl halftime show.

Some even said he was M.I.A. as West Virginia University lost a heartbreaker, if not a season-breaker, to Notre Dame, 55-51.

Indeed, the zero points certainly were not what Bryant had in mind as dessert for the 32-point game he put together at Providence, but it is almost unfair to simply paint him as the villain fans were trying to when they booed him at the game’s end.

True, any hope of winning the game went down in the final minutes when Bryant tried to redeem himself, an unadvised pass into the post to Deniz Kilicli being pilfered by Jerian Grant, who turned into a three-point basket.

And then, moments later, Bryant had cruised down the floor and gotten to the basket for his first shot of the second half, only to miss a makeable, although not uncontested layup.

Again, Notre Dame went back down the floor and finished with Scott Martin hitting yet a third-straight 3-point shot to cap an 11-0 run that clinched it.

It is difficult enough to believe that anyone could suffer the pains that Bryant was suffering when it was over, failing for the first time in memory to so much as chat with the local media.

But, gosh dang it, as a football coach from another era might have said, Bryant actually played a good game.

Yes he finished with zero baskets in six attempts, but there were also eight assists to just that one turnover … and if he wasn’t hitting, he wasn’t trying to hit for Notre Dame had opted to smother him early and often.

Bob Huggins, who can be a player’s worst critic when he senses a lack of effort or a lack of good sense, refused to do anything but offer praise toward his intelligent approach and effort.

“Truck tried to win,” Huggins said. “He wasn’t hitting his shots, and he didn’t force things. Yes, his one turnover was huge, but I don’t fault him. He tried to do what we needed to win. He was the one who got the ball inside for us.”

Indeed, whatever disease it was that Bryant was afflicted with spread to the entire team in the first half as they scored just 16 points – which is not even a good night for Kevin Jones – shooting just 24.1 percent, hitting 1 of 11 3s.

See, Huggins had blame for some of the other people … you better believe he did. Not Kilicli, who fought his fanny off while scoring 16 points and grabbing five rebounds; and certainly not for Jabarie Hinds, who was high scorer with 17 points and hit 8 of 12 shots.

And everyone felt for Kevin Jones, who had an opportunity to etch his name next to the Logo, Jerry West, and Hot Rod Hundley in the record books had he scored 20 points for the 10th straight game only to finish with 14.

“It is what it is,” Jones said. “I was just glad being named with those guys, Jerry West and Hot Rod Hundley, great players. Obviously, losing is more disheartening than anything.”

So who did Huggins blame?

“We’ve got guys who made three or four shots in a week, maybe all year, and they’re jacking up 3s,” Huggins said, not naming any names, but Keaton Miles shot one, and Aaron Brown, who is a good 3-point shooter, missed a 3 badly.

“I don’t know what’s going through their heads,” Huggins said.

Be interesting to know now, for Miles never got back in after the first half, and Brown not only didn’t get back in but when Huggins needed a 3-point shooter he opted for Paul Williamson, the walk-on, instead.

And so it was, Truck Bryant will be viewed with disdain when, in reality, it might be best to look upon him as unfortunate, for in truth it was Notre Dame’s defense that took away his offense far more than any shortcomings he may have had.

Email Bob Hertzel at bhertzel@hotmail.com. Follow on Twitter @bhertzel.

1
Text Only
WVU Sports
  • WVU takes first step Thursday

    Perhaps the most used – and least factual – cliché in sports is as follows:
    “There’s no tomorrow.”
     

    July 30, 2014

  • Must WVU defense carry offense in ’14?

    The other day the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette ran a story under the following headline:
     

    July 30, 2014

  • smallwood-wendell(1)-2.jpg Charges against Smallwood dropped

     West Virginia University running back Wendell Smallwood took to Twitter mid-afternoon Tuesday to express his feelings after charges of witness intimidation against him were dropped by the state of Delaware.
    It took him only three words to say what was on his mind: “God is Good.” Smallwood is now free to return to West Virginia and rejoin his Mountaineer teammates when they open camp for the 2014 season Thursday.

    July 30, 2014 1 Photo

  • Charges against Smallwood dropped

    West Virginia University running back Wendell Smallwood took to Twitter mid-afternoon Tuesday to express his feelings after charges of witness intimidation against him were dropped by the state of Delaware.

    July 29, 2014

  • Were Bowlsby’s fears about college athletics’ future justified?

    I have never met or even talked to Bob Bowlsby, commissioner of the Big 12 Conference.
    But I did read a lengthy story on his 45-minute address to reporters last week on Media Day in Dallas, Texas. Among other things, Bowlsby forecast a startling change threatening the existence of intercollegiate athletics as we have known for these many, many years.

    July 28, 2014

  • HERTZEL COLUMN: Big 12 provides plenty of optimism

    This past week the Big 12 held its annual media gathering in Dallas and served up a heaping portion of optimism for the 2014 season that is now upon us, West Virginia University opening its preseason practices on Thursday.
    This is a time of year when no one has lost a game, not even Charlie Weis at Kansas, and it’s a time of year when opinions are more plentiful than tattoos in an NFL locker room.

    July 27, 2014

  • Seider's brother commits to WVU

    West Virginia University’s football team has received a commitment from one of its own.

    July 26, 2014

  • HERTZEL COLUMN: Big 12 provides much optimism heading into 2014 season

    This past week the Big 12 held its annual media gathering in Dallas and served up a heaping portion of optimism for the 2014 season that is now upon us, West Virginia University opening its preseason practices on Thursday.

    July 26, 2014

  • HERTZEL COLUMN: WVU needs White to follow in former receivers’ footsteps

    A year ago Clint Trickett took a lot of grief as the once potent West Virginia offense came unraveled, but there is more that than meets the eye.
    The criticism was not unfounded, of course, although behind each incomplete pass there was the pain Trickett was suffering through to throw it, his rotator cuff in need of surgery.

    July 26, 2014

  • Forsey posts Top 10 finish at World Championships

    Freshman Jillian Forsey of the West Virginia University cross country team finished ninth at the 2014 IAAF World Junior Track and Field Championships in Eugene, Oregon.
    Forsey, a native of Stephenville, Newfoundland and Labrador, was representing Team Canada. She was the first Canadian to cross the finish line in the women’s 5,000-meter run, finishing in ninth place overall in 16:02.55.

    July 26, 2014

Featured Ads
WVU Sports Highlights
NDN Sports
House Ads
NCAA Breaking News
NCAA Photos