If you ask WVU point guard Truck Bryant heading into West Virginia's matchup against Kansas State tonight to nail down one, main issue that has hampered the Mountaineers in their two losses this season, he will give a short, precise answer.
"Defense," Bryant said. "It all starts with 'D.'"
Fair enough, but the Mountaineers (4-2) may have to deal with factors they can't defend against when they tussle with the Wildcats at 9 p.m. tonight at the Wildcat Classic in Wichita, Kan. The game will be televised on ESPN2.
One question that looms as large if not more significant than simple X's and O's will relate to the intensity of the crowd and the emotions on all sides as WVU coach Bob Huggins returns to Kansas to take on a team he led to the NIT in his one season at the helm in 2006-2007.
In order to predict the answer, it wouldn't hurt to take a look at history and how much the program was behind Huggins when he arrived in Manhattan, Kan. where he took over a program that hadn't been to an NCAA tournament in a decade and hadn't compiled a Big 12 conference record better than 7-9.
The reaction to Huggins' hiring was immediate as all season ticket packages for Bramlage Coliseum were sold out for the first time and average attendance rose by over 5,000 from the 2005-2006 season.
Yet Huggins left the program for WVU, his alma mater, despite Kansas State meeting if not exceeding the offer of West Virginia.
So coach, think the K-State fan base may still hold a little grudge?
"Someone asked me what kind of reception I think I'll get. I said, 'An OK one,'" Huggins said. "He asked what if I get booed? I said, 'I don't know. I've never been booed before.'"
For the record, all has worked out OK for Kansas State. Former Huggins assistant Frank Martin has turned K-State into a perennial power, leading the Wildcats to NCAA tournament appearances in three of the last four seasons, including a run to the Elite Eight in 2010.
Whatever hostility may be awaiting the Mountaineers in Wichita, it will be important for WVU to match that - a point not lost on Bryant.
"Yes definitely," Bryant said when asked if there was an urgency to win this game for Huggins. "It would be a huge win for him and it would be a huge win for the team. It's not something we've addressed yet but as a leader, I definitely will."
With all the surrounding intrigue, the importance of the actual game can easily get lost. But the fact is WVU finds itself a bit on the ropes after losses to Kent State and Mississippi State.
Bryant refers back to defense to explain the Mountaineers' shortcomings.