Home Away From Home

When West Virginia takes the floor tonight at the Charleston Civic Center, the crowd will obviously be on their side. But does that make it a home game?

"We are going to treat it like a home game, because we're playing here, and the crowd should be about 99% West Virginia fans," assistant coach Jeff Neubauer told BlueGoldNews.com. "Charleston has been very good to us. It's been a better home court than Morgantown has been to us, so we're trying to keep our undefeated string going down here."

With the Mountaineers playing just twice a year in the Capital City, WVU's players obviously don't have the same familiarity with the rims, lights, floor and background that they do in the Coliseum. They do have the aforementioned crowd support however. So, which of these items is the most important in determining a home court advantage?

"I'm not sure what the most important factor is, whether it's the lighting, or just being comfortable or whatever, but if you have a certain familiarity with a place, it does go a long way," Neubauer analyzed.

Some players take to certain arenas, and have that comfort level right from the start. Former Mountaineer guard Lionel Armstead was one such player that felt right at home in Charleston, and with WVU being 2-0 in the Civic Center under Beilein, it seems as if a few players on the current squad are happy in their home away from home as well.

West Virginia is also facing the challenge of playing their second straight opponent that's not necessarily a household name, but that is very talented. However, getting that notion across to players can be something of a challenge.

"We know what a veteran team Northeastern had, and they really shot the ball well," Neubauer noted. "Our players knew going into the game they would shoot the ball from any range. But in their heads, we don't know how they were able to evaluate Northeastern as opposed to a team you see on TV every week.

We see Georgetown, Syracuse, and UConn every week, so they are very easy to prepare for. Our team didn't know Northeastern from any other guys, so that might have something to do with our preparation.

"We try to prepare our scout team to emulate opposing players and simulate what they can do, but it only goes so far. Games are games and how people react in a game situation is a whole lot different than putting together a scout team."

None of this is to say that WVU lacked respect or didn't prepare for Northeastern or St. Louis. It's simply another of the challlenges of a long season that a young team must overcome. WVU didn't pass their first such test against the Huskies, but hope to have better success against the Billikens.


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