Mesh Factor

Before the Mountaineers broke their two-game losing streak on Wednesday against Marshall, there was buzz about lack of chemistry on the team. Adding three talented freshmen to a group of returning players was expected to take time, and some bumps in that road couldn't be avoided. Freshman Kevin Jones recognized that the team had to get some games, and even losses, under its belt.

"I think we have a much better chemistry now than we did in the beginning of the season. We just needed to get out there and play some games to learn about each other's style of play," said Jones.

With the loss of veteran point guard Joe Mazzulla and backup Jonnie West, head coach Bob Huggins has had depend on the freshmen more than anticipated. Forward Devin Ebanks and point guard Darryl "Truck" Bryant have been starters for all (Ebanks) and much (Bryant) of the season – something that was pretty much unheard of at West Virginia over past years. Add in Jones, who is averaging 17.5 minutes per game in a productive role, and the impact of the three players has been clear. While the trio's route to this point hasn't been totally smooth sailing, it wasn't a surprise to Jones that he would have the chance to earn playing time.

"(Coach Huggins) told me that if I came in and worked hard that I would get as much playing time as I could. That's what I came in and did and it's been paying off for me," Jones admitted. Jones is averaging 5.8 points and 4.8 rebounds per game, and is looking to continue to improve those numbers as the Big East season wears on. Mount Vernon, N.Y. native recognizes that it took him a few games under his belt to adjust, just like it did the team as a whole. Jones credits the upperclassmen with helping him improve on his game and adjust to college life.

"I think I have improved a lot since I first came here. I think I've gained a lot of knowledge of the game. The best way to learn about the game is to play it so that has helped," Jones said. "I'm trying to improve every day. I think all of the upperclassmen have helped me improve. They've really helped me a lot," Jones said."

The Mountaineers will need to continue to work on achieving their team chemistry as well as their success. The freshmen still have lessons to learn about playing hard on every possession, on defensive work, on recognizing good shots and reacting to game situations. But with the ability to rotate a variety of players into multiple positions, the Mountaineers should have the ability to compete with any of the teams they face for the rest of the season. If they can improve their consistency and maintain their play over longer stretches of the game, they will have a chance to earn at least a first round bye in the Big East tournament, and also gain at least a respectable seed in the NCAA tournament.


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