West Virginia Without Point Guard Bryant For Rest of Tournament

March 24th, 2010-  By Bryan Cross

The West Virginia Mountaineers received some distressing news with their starting point guard Darryl Bryant out for the duration of the 2010 NCAA tournament, due to a broken right foot.

The sophomore has played a critical role this season for the second-seeded team out of the East Bracket.  On the year, Bryant has averaged just under 10 points per game, to go along with 3.1 assists and 2.2 rebounds.  Of the 35 games West Virginia has played this season, Bryant started in 31, and quarterbacked the Mountaineers on the court.

The school stated that the point guard broke the fifth metatarsal.

In his place, Joe Mazzulla will step up as West Virginia prepares for their Sweet-16 match up with No.11 seed Washington.  Mazzulla struggled with injury problems himself last season, due to his shoulder.  He averages 2.2 points per game and 1.8 rebounds, but has been productive at spreading the ball around to his open teammates on the offensive side of the floor, as he has tabbed 15 assists over the last three contests.

“It hurts our depth a little bit,” remarked West Virginia head coach Bob Huggins to ESPN. “But Joe is ready. He’s been playing really well for us. He shot the ball really well in practice and in the games. He’ll be fine.”

Mazzulla, a junior, made his last start in December of 2008, where he injured his shoulder.  In addition to missing last season, the injury plagued his performance and availability this season, but the team is confident that he is ready to go on Thursday.

West Virginia has no other options as far as true point guards if something is to happen to Mazzulla.  However, Da’Sean Bryant as well as Devin Ebanks are capable of running the system, and have been utilized in that position before.  Huggins is not afraid to keep guards off the floor entirely, as he used forwards for four games this season.

Huggins stated that Bryant came to him about pain in his foot at practice on Tuesday.  After an X-ray revealed the nature of the injury, it was soon realized that Bryant was done for this season.

Everyone is good,” Huggins remarked of his team’s reaction to the news. “They’re sad for Truck, obviously, but they’re fine.”

While emotionally the team may be well, they face a difficult task with Washington on Thursday night.

The Huskies are led by point guard Isaiah Thomas, who is averaging 17.1 points and 3.1 assists per game. Bryant would have been the man assigned to guard him, and now Huggins must formulate a game-plan to slow him down.

Fortunately for the Mountaineers, Mazzulla has been receiving more and more playing time, including the NC AA tournament.  He played 22 minutes in the win over Morgan State, and 16 minutes against Missouri.

Currently, USA Online Sportsbooks have installed West Virginia with 10/1 odds to win the 2010 NCAA National Championship.

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