MORGANTOWN - The numbers are not all that compelling, but anyone who has watched West Virginia's basketball team play the last four games knows that Dominique Rutledge has become a cog in the wheel for the Mountaineers.
After being little more than a curiosity and/or a last resort through WVU's first 28 games, the junior college transfer has become a legitimate part of the team's rotation the last four.
The difference? Well, need is one reason for Rutledge's increased playing time. Deniz Kilicli has averaged four fouls per game over that stretch, and Rutledge's highest minutes-played totals all season have come when Kilicli was hurt or in foul trouble.
But Rutledge has also begun to produce of late, which has kept him in games. More playing time has resulted in more confidence.
And that's one of the biggest things Rutledge lacked all season.
"It helps my confidence out a lot that they leaned toward me to help out,'' Rutledge said. "I just try to come out every game and be confident and work hard.''
When Rutledge has that confidence and does the things he can do without hesitating, he becomes the player Bob Huggins hoped he was getting when he brought in Rutledge. He had six points and 10 rebounds against Marquette, eight points and eight boards against DePaul, and six points and 11 rebounds against UConn.
Again, those aren't exactly Kevin Jones numbers, of course, but that's not what the Mountaineers need heading into the postseason. They just need Rutledge to do what he's been doing of late - rebounding, playing defense and occasionally finishing around the basket.