UConn Poses Many Problems for Mountaineers

WVU heads for cold and snowy Connecticut this afternoon, but getting there is just the first of many problems for West Virginia as they prepare to face the Huskies on Saturday.

"UConn's fast break is terrific," head coach John Beilein noted as he ticked off the Huskies' strengths. "We have to find a way to slow them down. But we've seen so many different things they do well - play defense, which is outstanding, and they are unselfish. They are just solid in every category.

"The first thing I look at is a team's assist to turnover ratio to see how they pass, and Connecticut obviously has terrific players who can pass the ball. They are certainly one of the top five teams in college basketball."

When faced with such a dazzling array of talent, Beilein notes that his team doesn't focus on stopping one player.

"We don't emphasize individual matchups in any game," the veteran coach noted. "If we did, and we don't shut the guy down, then the game plan is shot. We try to focus our defense collectively as a team. Now, maybe we try to say we want this guy to shoot a little bit or let that guy dribble or double team this guy, but with UConn it's so hard because they have about two, three or four future NBA players. That makes it tough to concentrate on one, because the others will kill you."


Beilein provided a bit on insight on what makes his 1-3-1 defense successful.

"It's been a way for us to play as we develop our talent. Playing something different allows you to make teams play spontaneously and not have a real plan as we change the shape of it [the defense]," Beilein observed. "When you only see it one time a year, it can work. It didn't work against Providence, I can tell you that. The have a terrific passing team, and they saw one pass ahead. They also used touch passes very well."

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Now that the games are past, Beilein admits that the recent wins over Boston College and Seton Hall were big for the program.

"Both the Boston College and Seton Hall games were significant for us. We are still learning on the fly and finding out who can make big shots in games or make the big defensive play."

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Beilien also commented on his shifting rotation, which has moved from eight players, to ten, and back down to seven as the conference season has progressed.

'We were playing nine at one time as we watched the freshmen, but then we felt we needed not to have too many on the court at one time. Tyler Relph is the only freshman seeing significant time right now. It has helped us significantly, especially on defense. Six or seven can win a lot of college basketball games, unless you have injuries."

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Beilein noted that UConn head coach Jim Calhoun has been a source of information for him as he builds the WVU program. Calhoun conducted a master building job of his own in bringing UConn to the heights of college hoops.

"Jim Calhoun has been very good to me in giving me some advice on how to build a program," Beilein observed.

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