It might seem that after two games of scouting, there's not a great deal different that a coach can find in a foe when prepping for a third encounter. West Virginia assistant Larry Harrison understands that, and notes that much of the scouting work and review he did for the Baylor game in the Big 12 Championship focuses on cleanup and adjustments, rather than finding anything in the opponent.
"You try to cut back on the things we did wrong," Harrison said one day before the Mountaineers face the Bears. "You look at turnovers against Baylor and figure out what the situation was. Was it in the forecourt or in the halfcourt? Was it forcing the ball against the zone? You also look at how we can score and where on the court we can score against their zone. And we look at individuals. Who really hurt us? In this case, [Taurean] Prince really hurt us in both games. So we have to find a a way to make it tougher on him."
Just like in football, Harrison and the Mountaineer assistants also look at tendencies. For example, what does the opposition tend to do out of timeouts, or in certain stretches of the game, or when certain personnel are on the floor? Those also extend to individuals, down to which hand bigs are more comfortable shooting with or which way players tend to drive and move. Nothing is too small to get a note in the scouting report.
Once that information is assimilated, there remains the task of getting it to the team -- and getting it to stick. Utilizing old fashioned methods as well as modern technology, Harrison tries to get the message out in a variety of ways.
"We review the information both as a team and individually," he explained. "With the team we go over it with video and with our edits, We show tendencies and the way we score and they way they score. And we'll send text messages to individual players too. "We might say to Devin, 'An elbow shot will be there for you all day', or 'This particular player is going to turn over his left shoulder -- be ready.' So through the day we try to send those messages to keep them thinking."
What it all comes down to, though, is this third game. While the Mountaineers lost the first two -- a fact that Harrison doesn't ignore -- it isn't dwelt upon either.
"They always say it's hard to beat a team three times, but I'd rather be on the 2-0 side than the 0-2 side," he said with a smile. "We just need the guys to stay focused and pay attention to the details. It's all new. It's postseason. They might have beaten us twice, but that doesn't matter now. What matters is the energy and the intensity in the postseason, and I think our guys are ready."