Beilein, Big Men Ready to Battle Herd

About this time every year, every eye in the state of West Virginia is on the Capital City for one of the most anticipated events of the winter.

Nope it's not the annual legislative session. That kicked off under the Capitol dome last Wednesday. More important than any pending law to many West Virginians is the annual Capital City Classic.

This year marks Coach John Beilein's second meeting with the Thundering Herd, and fourth game in the Charleston Civic Center Coliseum since taking over the program. One wonders, will the Mountaineers treat this game any different because it's a non-conference game in the middle of the conference season?

"Not really," says Beilein. "It's just as intense. Our kids look forward to this game, and it's a great event for both universities.

"Charleston has been pretty good to us. We're undefeated there so far. We have great fan support in the Charleston area."

Since leading scorer Drew Schifino was suspended and ultimately dismissed from the team nearly two weeks ago, the Mountaineers have used a number of different lineups to pick up the slack for the 17 points per game lost with Schifino. One such combo that has made a comeback is using both big men, D'or Fischer and Kevin Pittsnogle, on the court together.

"We basically have a starting eight, but we love having shooters at that forward position," Beilein stated.

Pittsnogle, one of two in-state players on the roster, is looking forward to heading back into the Civic Center to take on the Herd, while Fischer will be playing in his first Capital City Classic after sitting out last year as a transfer from Northwestern State. While he hasn't been in the Mountain State long, he is smart enough to know one thing.

"One of the first things the in-state guys told me when I got here was ‘If you go 1-58 or whatever, just make sure you beat Marshall."

Fischer also knows not to look past the Thundering Herd.

"I used to play at a smaller school, and I know when I was there, we never wanted to be taken lightly."

Hopefully Fischer's attitude mirrors that of the team. If not, the Capital City Classic could leave the Blue and Gold feeling green around the gills.

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