WVU Gets Second Chance At Wildcats

Saturday's showdown with Big East foe Villanova could go a long way in determining WVU's postseason plans.

With a win, the Mountaineers would stand at 14-8 overall, with a 6-5 mark in Big East Conference play. But before we start looking ahead, let's focus on the game with ‘Nova, which heads into the Coliseum trying to pick up the pieces after a 100-74 blowout loss to Providence. Despite their loss the other night, the Wildcats are a talented team.

"They can do so many different things so well," explained Mountaineer head coach John Beilein, who is still recovering from the back spasms that kept him at home for the St. John's game.

Perhaps the most impressive part of Villanova's squad is the fact that the scoring literally comes from all over. Four of the Wildcats' five starters average in double figures. Leading the way is sophomore guard Allan Ray at 17.2 ppg. Ray dropped in 20 points in Villanova's victory over the Mountaineers two weeks ago.

While Allan is certainly capable of giving the Mountaineers fits, freshman point guard Mike Nardi is the man who makes the Wildcats go, according to Beilein.

"Nardi is the difference in that team this year," noted Beilein. "He gives them something at that position that maybe they didn't have when we played them last year."

RIFLE REPORTS

Beilein returned to practice on Friday after suffering painful back spasms Wednesday morning prior to the game against St. John's. He spent most of practice sitting in a nifty, comfortable rolling chair. Assistants Jeff Neubauer, Jerry Dunn, and Matt Brown directed most of practice from the court while Beilein observed from his newfound throne.

While Beilein admitted he was still in some pain, he isn't worried about missing tomorrow's game.

"I'll be fine by tomorrow," vowed the boss.

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As mentioned before, a win Saturday will go a long way in determining how far the Mountaineers go in the post season. Six wins should be enough to get into the Big East Tournament, but as the old saying goes, the more the merrier. An overall record of 14-8 would mean that one additional win could send WVU to the NIT, but sixteen wins would make that a certainty, and might even give WVU a home game.

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Following Saturday's game, the Mountaineers have a week off to prepare for the Pitt Panthers. The Pitt game will take place with a capacity crowd on a Saturday night in Morgantown. I'm not going to make any predictions, but anytime those conditions are present, you have to give the home team a chance.

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Patrick Beilein and Kevin Pittsnogle now rank 9th and 10th, respectively, in career three-point baskets at WVU. Beilein has 83 in fifty career games, while Pittsnogle has hit 81 in fifty games.


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