Busy Summer No Problem For Pittsnogle

The entire West Virginia basketball team is working long hours this summer to get ready for next year's season, but one player has even a bit more work as he competes for a spot on the USA Basketball Men's Junior World Championship Team.

Rising sophomore Kevin Pittsnogle, who made the roster of 16 for the squad, now has his sights set on making the final roster of 12 during the June 24-July 6 training camp in Dallas, Texas. The 16 remaining players will pratice and play five games before trimming the roster to 12 and departing for the tournament in Greece.

"I'll be disappointed if I don't make it, but if I don't that will just motivate me to try harder next time," the Martinsburg, W. Va. native told BlueGoldNews.com. "I'm just going down there to give it my best effort, and try my hardest. The coaches will have the chance to see us practice and play some games."

The team, which is coached by Oregon's Ernie Kent, is playing an uptempo game, which suits Pittsnogle just fine.

"We did a lot of running and played fast, which is ok with me," Pittsnogle noted. "I am also coming out and setting a lot of picks, and Coach Kent told me I needed to get used to that."

In order to stay in playing shape, Pittsnogle is adding some running to his already busy summer schedule. In addition to taking summer school classes, Pittsnogle and his teammates are lifting early in the morning four days per week and getting together to play as a group three more times. The enthusiastic sophomore wouldn't have it any other way, though.

"I'd be out on the court anyway," Pittsnogle said of his summer routine. "I'd go to the gym every day. I love to play, and I just love the game. I don't worry about getting burned out at all.

"There's a lot of intensity out there, even during the summer. But I really love it."

The on court sessions this summer have found Pittnogle working hard to improve his inside game. After becoming an instant fan favorite for his three point bombs as a freshman, the lanky sophomore is working hard to round out his game, which should help not only in the national team trials later this month but also in the upcoming season.

""D'or (Fischer) and I are going at it pretty good. He's really good competition, and playing against him will help me improve. And when he has to come out and guard me on the perimeter, that will help him too.

"We try to work on some of our plays and sets, but we also get out and have some fun and run," Pittsnogle said of the team's get-togethers.

Still, all the early morning sessions of lifting, the endless court sessions, and extra running have to become a bit monotonous after a while. Pittsnogle says that's when friendships and teammates come into play.

"It's not all just about basketball," the precocious sophomore said. "Sure, I use getting ready for next season as a motivator, but just being with my teammates and having fun with them is also important. We do things off the court together too, and being around them and having fun with them keeps you coming back and working hard."

With an attitude like that, it's no wonder that Pittsnogle has had such great early success. Getting picked for the final squad of 16 is a great accomplishment, and even if he should fall short on the final cut, the West Virginia native deserves a great deal of praise for his accomplishment.

Pittsnogle won't offer any odds on his making the final roster of twelve players, but a quick glance at the roster of 16 reveals some tough competition. UCLA freshman Ryan Hollins (6-11) and Illinois freshman James Augustine (6-10) will provide competition in the middle, while another pair of towering forwards (6-11 Paul Davis and 6-10 Al Jefferson) will also mount a strong challenge.

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