The Times West Virginian

WVU Sports

February 21, 2011

Win offers WVU hope for stretch run

MORGANTOWN — If you will remember a year ago, when West Virginia made its run to the Final Four, the Mountaineers relied heavily on a Big Three.

There was Da’Sean Butler, the top scorer and the heart and soul of the team; there was Devin Ebanks, tall and athletic and a shutdown defender, and there was Kevin Jones, Mr. Consistent.

It hasn’t worked that way this year, with players going up and down like yo-yos.

One day Casey Mitchell has 31 points, another day he has none, a third day he’s suspended.

One day Truck Bryant has 25, seven weeks later he has 24, in between he reaches double figures four times in 13 games.

One day Joe Mazzulla scores 18, the next day 16, the next three games he combines for eight points.

 John Flowers scores four against St. John’s, none against Marquette, three against DePaul and then 24 against Providence.

Kevin Jones hits double figures in eight straight games, then in just four of the next nine games.

If you are Bob Huggins, how do you coach when you don’t know in any given game where your points are coming from?

True, the defense has been consistent, but if you want to know why WVU wins a couple, loses a couple, it’s because the offense is uncertain and sporadic, the team as likely to score in the 50s as it is to score the 60s and more likely than to score in the 70s.

This year’s team is averaging 66 points a game in the Big East.

Last year’s team averaged 75.2 points a game in the Big East.

That certainly shows a major difference.

But the Notre Dame gave offered hope for the stretch run, hope that maybe another Big Three could develop as there was one last year.

It would be different in nature, for it is guard oriented, not front court as was Da’Sean Butler, Kevin Jones and Devin Ebanks.

And it isn’t proven as scorers as that group became, but against Notre Dame it showed that it could step forward.

If WVU is going to go on a run and take into and through the conference tournament, it is going to need Joe Mazzulla, Truck Bryant and Kevin Jones to show the way.

Against Notre Dame they accounted for 54 of the 72 points — Bryant 24, Mazzulla 16 and Jones 14.

Throw in some steady play from John Flowers, who is more out of Devin Ebanks school than anywhere else, rebounding, blocking shots and playing defense, add in some power play down low from Cam Thoroughman and Deniz Kilicli and toss in a hot streak or two from Casey Mitchell, and you have the makings of a pretty good team.

“It hasn’t been that we haven’t played well,” Bob Huggins said the other day. “We just haven’t made shots.”

Against Notre Dame, Jones, Mazzulla and Bryant made shots and they were a different team.

It was the third time during the season they each scored in double figures and the team is 3-0 in those games.

"We always felt like we were [an NCAA tournament team]," Bryant said, "but today we looked like one. We made shots; we played defense."

Mazzulla explained it this way:

“One thing that has really hurt is that our lack of offense has put pressure on the defense. Every possession has been really important, and I don’t think we realized that,” Mazzulla said. “We came in making shots and played pretty good defense. When you shoot 25, 26 percent from the field you start to get discouraged and you don’t have the energy to go back on defense.”

Good defense is supposed to lead to good offense, but Mazzulla obviously believes it works the other way too, just as he and Bryant work in tandem.

Huggins was thrilled to see offense from Bryant.

“It’s his best game in a long time,” the coach said. “Not just he made shots. His decision making was better. No question he helps us with both those guys on the floor at the same time because now we have two guys who can handle the ball.”

And handle the situation, which is even more important with WVU’s next game at 9 p.m. Thursday at Pitt.

E-mail Bob Hertzel at

Text Only
WVU Sports
  • 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

  • Gyorko, Padres agree to extension

    Jedd Gyorko, who hasn’t hit much of anything with a .178 start on this season, hit the jackpot on Monday, signing a six-year contract extension with the San Diego Padres for $35 million with a one-year club option at $13 million.

    April 15, 2014

  • HERTZEL COLUMN- Spring game showed defense has improved

    From Dana Holgorsen’s viewpoint, which was standing right behind the offense, West Virginia’s Gold-Blue Spring Game on Saturday was a rousing success for it showed very little of what the Mountaineers will be in this coming season, probably not even showcasing the man who will direct the offense in the quarterback position.

    April 15, 2014

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