Breaking Out

When John Beilein was hired as the 20th head basketball coach in WVU history, the first thing that Mountaineer fans heard about was his complex, disciplined offense. In his first season and a half, that offense has proven to be one that makes the defense work, runs the shot clock down, and creates open shots, particularly from the perimeter.

But for a lot of this year's first half of the season, there has been one very key ingredient missing from Mountaineer basketball: points. It's not that the offense wasn't working. Players were still getting open shots, the offense was still working deep into the shot clock, and at times the opposing defense looked absolutely befuddled as to what they were supposed to do. However, the deliberate pace resulted in low point totals for the Mountaineers, as quick scores and big runs were usually absent from the WVU attack.

Recently, though, there have been small signs of a transition game in the West Virginia offense. It all started late in the second half against Marshall. Junior Tyrone Sally snared a rebound, gave it to Jarmon Durisseau-Collins, and then, to the amazement of nearly all of the 12,000+ in the Charleston Civic Center, threw a deep pass that hit Joe Herber in stride. Herber softly laid it in, and the Mountaineers went on to win the game. Then there was Saturday's game against future ACC doormat, and current league foe Boston College. Beilein's boys got a number of good looks in transition. The one that immediately comes to mind was a steal by Sally where he flew past the BC defenders, and got some serious hang time before slamming it home for a Mountaineer score.

"We were having trouble in the half court offense, so we decided we should run it some more," said Herber after practice on Tuesday. "Most teams expect us to slow it down, so it brings a surprise element."

While a slower tempo offense will be the cornerstone of Beilein's days in Morgantown, it's great to see the Mountaineers scoring points in a variety of ways.


Despite their 0-6 conference record, St. John's should never be taken lightly. Remember that the game is being played at Alumni Hall, the bandbox on campus facility where the Red Storm plays their non-Garden home games. They also return four starters from last season's NIT championship team.

"We have to approach it just like every game, and bring the same energy," Sally cautioned. "We know they are a good team, they've just had some bad breaks."

The last time the Mountaineers met St. John's on the road, it was at the Garden. That was the same day that a former Mountaineer point guard who shall remain nameless was stuffed on a dunk attempt by the notoriously skilled shot blocker, the Madison Square Garden rim.

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Herber will continue to see time at the "4", or small forward, position on Wednesday night. Herber, who starts at shooting guard or "2", played the "4" some on Saturday against BC.

"I like playing the 4. It gives me some more opportunities on offense," said Herber. "On defense it can be confusing because I play three of the five positions."

Head coach John Beilein noted that he would like to limit Herber's role to the 2 and 4 spots, but that he has the versatility to help elsewhere if needed.

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