Battles Down the Stretch

Although he'd be the first to admit that West Virginia's win over St. John's isn't a ticket to the NCAA tournament, head coach John Beilein was nonetheless pleased with his team's effort in their victory on the Red Storm's home court.

"It was a gutty performance by our team," Beilein noted after returning home to Morgantown. "As you all know, winning on the road is tough. And with the problems we had getting to New York in the first place, it was a good win. We didn't wilt down the stretch, and that's what you need to do."

West Virginia's win doomed St. John's to their first-ever losing season at Alumni Hall, and dropped the Red Storm four games behind the Mountaineers in the loss column of the Big East standings.

However, despite the importance of getting their first road conference in of the season (against two losses), the Mountaineer mentor didn't want to place too much emphasis on the victory.

"I don't look at any game as being bigger than another one, although any road game is big," Beilein ruminated. "At the end of the season I will might look back and say 'Wow, that was a big win', but if you try to measure wins now, you can run into problems. And that goes for before a game too, if you think it's a big game coming up."


Beilein also talked about the continued development of his team, which has, to an extent, gone through two periods of adjustment after losing Drew Schifino.

"I feel like the team is bonding," the veteran coach noted. "I know we have some significant bumps left on the schedule, but to play together every second like we did last night, it's great. That's created the type of atmosphere and environment that we need. If we have that, we think we can create a team that can win on the road every year."

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Due to early foul problems, Kevin Pittsnogle and D'or Fischer played "about five minutes" together against St. John's. Fischer picked up two fouls early in the game, but managed to avoid a third in the first half despite playing several minutes in relief of Pittsnogle in the first half.

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Beilein also looked ahead to the trip to Philadelphia for a clash with Villanova on Saturday. The Wildcats dropped a close decision to Rutgers on Wednesday, putting them into a tie with the Mountaineers at 3-3 in the Big East standings.

"Villanova shoots the ball well, and their defense is terrific. We were very fortuante to have every ball bounce our way last year in our game," Beilein said of WVU's road win. "We're looking forward to the game, and we know Jay (Wright) will have his team ready. It will be a battle."

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