MORGANTOWN - WVU senior guard Truck Bryant had one of those days on Tuesday.One of those very bad days on the home court.He was out of control in the lane during the Mountaineers' 70-60 home loss to Kent State. He shot an air ball. He had defensive breakdowns. He was mugged with the ball. He missed free throws. After one missed free throw, he appeared to need counseling.His final line: 4-of-13 from the field; 0-of-3 from behind the 3-point arc; 4-of-7 free throws made; one rebound; four fouls; 12 points; one assist; six turnovers; and one steal.It was an ugly day outside of the Coliseum. For Bryant, it was an ugly day inside of it.Afterward, though, the guard held his head high and faced the media."I think I played a bad game," Bryant said. "I wasn't into it in the second half defensively and I think that led to me playing bad offensively. Usually I'm into it. I just wasn't playing my game. I turned the ball over way too much."Perhaps stunningly, Bryant was the only Mountaineer to play all 40 minutes on Tuesday. (Kevin Jones played 39.) WVU coach Bob Huggins was asked if he considered replacing the guard. The coach recruited two highly regarded freshmen in Jabarie Hinds (who starts alongside Bryant) and Gary Browne.
"And put in who?" asked Huggins. "You stand where I stand and look down that bench. As good as Gary Browne was against Oral Roberts, he wasn't today."It made me ask: Are you freshmen or are you players?"WVU center Deniz Kilicli was asked if Bryant played poorly because the guard was trying to put the team on his shoulders."Nobody wants him to do everything," Kilicli said. "I don't think that's the issue."
Bryant now has 10 turnovers and six assists in the two regular-season games. He's hit 8-of-21 shots."He did what he could [Tuesday], but he has to take care of the ball," said Kilicli. "He plays with the ball so much. I'm not going to blame him 100 percent on this, though, because there's no one to pass the ball to. If people don't run to the spots, he's not going to be able to pass, so he gets stuck with the ball."Of course he has to do better though. I have to do better. Kev [Jones] has to do better."
"It's tough," Jones said when asked about Bryant. "You definitely don't want to lose a home game, especially to a non-conference team. I mean, [Kent is] a really good team, don't get me wrong. But you don't want to lose a home game. Truck didn't have as good a game. I didn't have as good a game. It's hard to say anything."Bryant was asked about one particular instance in the second half when he was trapped and lost the ball."It was rough," said the guard. "I'm always trying to find open guys in a trap. It's hard if I don't have anybody to pass to. The only thing I can do from there is try to get fouled."It will get better. It will definitely get better. We'll get better as a team. We have another game on Thursday, so we have to get right back after it."Bryant continues to have a positive outlook. He admits, however, Tuesday was frustrating."Definitely," he said. "I was being double-teamed every time I caught it on the wing. It was very frustrating. Then us turning the ball over and us not playing well and us being down in the second half was frustrating. But that's something I have to play through. I'm a senior. Things will get better. I know things will get better."
Reach Mitch Vingle at 304-348-4827, firstname.lastname@example.org
or follow him at twitter.com/MitchVingle.