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 Follow on Twitter @bhertzel.

Text Only
WVU Sports
  • Arrest warrant out for WVU recruit

    West Virginia University’s newest men’s basketball recruit, Tarik Phillip, has an order out for his arrest in North Carolina, according to a story in The Dominion-Post, which said three Gaston County Magistrate office spokespersons confirmed.

    April 20, 2014

  • WVU baseball powers past Oklahoma, 9-5

    The WVU baseball team tied a season high with 18 hits to defeat Oklahoma, 9-5, on Saturday afternoon at L. Dale Mitchell Park.
    The win gives the Mountaineers their second Big 12 series win of the season and improves the overall record to 19-16 and 4-7 in conference play. Oklahoma drops to 25-16 overall and 5-7 in Big 12 play.

    April 20, 2014

  • HERTZEL COLUMN: Under pressure, NCAA decides to change rules

    At first glance, it appears that they do not go hand-in-hand, a pair of rules changes the NCAA’s Legislative Council approved this week, sending them off for what seems to be smooth sailing toward becoming rules.

    April 18, 2014

  • Means, WVU baseball shut out Oklahoma

    Junior left-hander John Means of the WVU baseball team threw eight shutout innings and the Mountaineers had a five-run first inning en route to a 7-0 victory over Oklahoma on Thursday evening at L. Dale Mitchell Park.
    The Mountaineers (18-15, 3-6 Big 12) broke a six-game Big 12 losing streak after being swept by TCU and Oklahoma State in back-to-back weekends. WVU had 16 hits and did not make an error for the second-straight game.

    April 18, 2014

  • FURFARI COLUMN: Dr. Graber disagrees with Gee’s stance on Turnbull firing

    Dr. Stephen Graber, an associate professor at the West Virginia University School of Medicine, is among the latest WVU teachers to deplore Oliver Luck’s firing of veteran wrestling coach Craig Turnbull.
    He raised some significant questions about that issue last Monday in a meeting of the WVU Faculty Senate.

    April 18, 2014

  • Huggins signs junior college guard

    Coach Bob Huggins completed his 2014-15 West Virginia University recruiting class on Wednesday and deemed it a success after receiving a signed letter of intent from junior college guard Tarik Phillip.
    Phillip joins Jevon Carter of Maywood, Ill., and Daxter Miles of Baltimore’s Dunbar High and out of Notre Dame Prep in Massachusetts in the 2014-15 recruiting class.

    April 17, 2014

  • HERTZEL COLUMN: WVU gymnast hopes to stick her final landing

    The reaction, one suspects, was the same as most people who see either a picture of West Virginia University gymnast Hope Sloanhoffer or meet her for the first time in person — a quick double take, maybe even stumbling over the first few words of an introduction.

    April 17, 2014

  • FURFARI COLUMN: Comparing pay of coaches and professors

    Stringing together some odds and ends which may be of interest to you:
    • A beautiful lady came up to my table last Sunday at brunch in the Village of Heritage Point’s main dining room with a message.

    April 17, 2014

  • Bussie looks forward to WNBA

    On Tuesday, the weather turned cold, the wind blew and amongst the raindrops that fell a few snowflakes fluttered quietly to Earth.
    It was as if it was a celebration of Asya Bussie being drafted on Monday night by the Minnesota Lynx, champions of the WNBA, with the third selection of the second round, the 15th overall pick of the draft.

    April 16, 2014

  • WVU’s Harlee named Big 12 Scholar-Athlete

    The Big 12 Conference announced its Scholar-Athlete of the Year recipients for the 2014 winter sport season, and West Virginia University senior Jess Harlee earns the honor for women’s basketball.
    Harlee was selected as the award winner based on a vote of each respective sport’s head coaching group, with coaches not permitted to vote for their own student-athletes.

    April 16, 2014

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