In WVU's 66-57 win over St. Louis on Tuesday, that wasn't the case, however. In this game, both squads employed methodical pass, screen and cut offenses. With two similar styles, the game was won by the team that executed their own offense the best, and also was the most patient and tenacious on defense.
St. Louis head coach Brad Soderberg believes that his team, which is used to dishing out frustration, got a bit hurried when faced with WVU's similar style.
"I think that did have something to do with it," the Billiken mentor said after the game. "We might have gotten a little impatient, and West Virginia guarded us well. We rushed a few things, and they executed well on their end."
Several Mountaineers felt the same way, and noted that the key was simply to out-execute the opposition.
"It's similar to our offense, so we just tried to match up and play defense longer," forward Tyrone Sally said. "You have to stay more focused on defense and just stay with your man. We came into the game figuring that the score would be in the low fifties, because both teams are patient and wait until they get an open shot. So, we tried to be patient."
Drew Schifino, who exhibited some of the best control of his career, agreed with Sally. The junior scorer was limited to two points in the first half, but contributed in a number of ways, including a solid defensive effort.
"They took about 30 seconds off the shot clock before shooting, and they tried to frustrate us. Last year, we turned the ball over and didn't play good defense. Tonight, we did that, and that's why we won the game."
Althoguh WVU probably won't face a team as deliberate as St.Louis the rest of the way, the win may well have taught the Mountianeers a valuable lesson. The young West Virginia squad should now know that if they maintain a defensive effort throughout each possession, and run their offense through all of its options, they should be able to win games no matter what pace their opponent plays, or how many shots they get off.
WVU took only 41 shots against the Billikens, and didn't have a free throw attempt in the first half, yet won the game by ten points. That's a statistic that the coaching staff will likely be emphasizing as they teach patience, on both ends of the floor, throughout the season.