Marked Man

WVU center Kevin Pittsnogle will be a marked man during Mountaineer games this year, but he returned to the West Virginia campus with a different sort of marking this fall.

After returning from his basketball trip to Greece, Pittsnogle got a pair of tattoos, one on each arm, before rejoining the team.

"It's something I've always wanted, and I got them this summer after I got back from overseas.

"A couple of my friends got one from back home. I've wanted one, since I was 16, but I haven't had the time or the money or permission." Pittsnogle said with a laugh.

Pittsnogle took a strategic route in obtaining permission from his parents, who are fixtures at Mountaineer games.

"Actually I got my mom to get one, too," said the sharpshooting sophomore.

If Pittsnogle can make moves as slick as that one on the basketball court, he could be one of the Big East's top frontcourt players. One thing that will help in in reaching that goal is the increased competition he will see in practice this season.

"It's always good to get new bodies inside. When you go against the same guy inside, it gets kind of boring. You know each other's every movve. We've got B. J. (Byerson) here fresh, and that will make it a lot of fun.

"We've also got Jerrah Young in there. He plays like he's 6-10. He's long, and kind of strong."

After a summer spent on the basketball court with the US junior national team, Pittsnogle believes that his game has improved. He credits practice sessions on that squad, where he battled the likes of Paul Davis and J. J. Redick, as the primary benefits to his improvement.

The downside of his summer tour, however, was that he missed six weeks worth of weightlifting and conditioning in the Mountaineer program. That lost time meant that Pittsnogle was only able to increase his weight to about 240 pounds during the offseason. While that's an improvement from the 225 range he was in as a freshman, it's still short of where he, and the coaching staff, would like him to be.

"(Playing on the junior national team) helped him a lot in his confidence," head coach John Beilein noted. "But he went about six weeks without touching a weight. It's a tradeoff with the experience he gained, though. He did well in the recnet weight training tests, though, so he has been able to make up for that somewhat."

One other area where Pittsnogle appears to have improved is in a leadership role. Although just a sophomore, the youthful nature of this WVU team makes him a veteran.

Pittsnogle and his teammates have been working with the newcomers since the start of the school year.

"As soon as they got in, we tried to start teaching them the ropes. We were taught them last year so we have to help them this year. It's not so hard to learn, but we try to take them under our wing and help them out."

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