WVU doesn’t need a leading scorer
Published: Monday, February 21, 2011
Updated: Monday, February 21, 2011 22:02
West Virginia's win over then-No. 8 Notre Dame Saturday saw the continuation of another awkward statistic surrounding this year's Mountaineer team.
Truck Bryant broke out of his near two-month slump, scoring 24 points to lead WVU to the win.
Bryant scoring 24 or carrying the team's offense on his back isn't a surprise, however.
Instead, for the fifth time in the past five games, WVU had a different leading scorer.
Shocked? You shouldn't be.
After all, it was clear entering the season that West Virginia wasn't going to have its standout scorer after losing Da'Sean Butler to the NBA.
Kevin Jones was expected to fill that role but instead has been quieted by opposing defenses.
He's only led the team in scoring six times this season, compared to him accomplishing the feat 10 times on a more offensively talented team last year.
It's been a scorer-by-committee scenario for head coach Bob Huggins in 2011. Six players have led the team in scoring in a game thus far, all having accomplished the feat more than once.
During the Mountaineers' Final Four run a season ago, seven players led the team in scoring in a game, but only Jones, Butler, Devin Ebanks and Wellington Smith did it more than once.
West Virginia didn't even go three games a season ago without either Jones or Butler finishing at the top of the team's box score.
Offensively, West Virginia is a polar opposite team. That's been said before.
But just because the team doesn't have a go-to scorer and relies on a different player to produce offensively every night, doesn't
necessarily mean the team is worse off than a year ago.
In fact, down the stretch of the season, and especially in tournament play when there is less time to prepare for opponents, the Mountaineers may be better off.
How do opposing teams prepare for WVU's balanced scoring? Who do opposing teams key on stopping?
The Irish attempted to shut down all passing lanes to Kevin Jones on Saturday.
Yet, doing so only opened up room for Joe Mazzulla to drive to the bucket, which then allowed Bryant to get open for outside shots.
No player on this year's team can come close to being able to score in multiple ways like Butler could.
But if each player played his own small role in the offense like the Mountaineers did Saturday, this team has potential to be dangerous.
Bryant, Jones, Casey Mitchell, Deniz Kilicli and even Joe Mazzulla and John Flowers can score 15 points on any given night.
Five of them have led the team in scoring in the team's seven games against ranked opponents.
In comparison, Butler led the Mountaineers in scoring in seven of the team's 11 games against ranked opponents last year.
This team doesn't struggle to score because it doesn't have scorers. It struggles offensively because it can't find and hit open shots.
That's the only way this scorer-by-committee way of offensive production is going to work for the Mountaineers.
Saturday proved how impressive it could actually be.