March 23, 2010
If West Virginia is going to make its first Final Four in more than five decades, it will have to find a way to get two more wins without its starting point guard.
Sophomore Truck Bryant broke a bone in his right foot in practice on Tuesday, a blow to the Mountaineers at what is already their weakest position. Ultra-tough Joe Mazzulla will start in Bryant's place for the rest of the NCAA tournament, beginning in Thursday's Sweet 16 game against Washington.
Although Mazzulla has actually played more minutes than Bryant in recent weeks, West Virginia now lacks depth behind him at the position. Either Mazzulla will have to play close to 40 minutes for the first time since suffering the shoulder injury that sidelined him nearly all of last season and still hampers his outside shooting or Da'Sean Butler or Devin Ebanks will have to play some point forward.
Any issues at point guard will be highlighted on Thursday against a Washington team that thrives when it pushes the tempo, forces turnovers and creates offense from its defense.
Bryant probably would have split ball-handling duties with Mazzulla and drawn the defensive assignment against Huskies star Isaiah Thomas. Now Mazzulla will shoulder that entire burden.