Out Of The Frying Pan...

While Rutgers obviously isn't as good as Pitt overall, head coach John Beilein believes that the Scarlet Knights are the Panthers' equal in at least one play phase.

"Rutgers plays terrific defense, as good as there is in the league. They are comparable to Pitt," Beilein said after watching some tape of the Scarlet Knights. "We just watched them go out to a 32-3 lead over Virginia Tech at the RAC, so that probably wasn't the best tape for me to look at."

While he's not the biggest scorer or flashiest player, Beilein thinks that freshman Marquis Webb is one of the catalysts to Rutgers' resurgence.

"Having a new point guard has really settled them down," Beilein observed. "He has made a big difference in their overall chemistry, both offensively and defensively. When you have a guy like that, who's not as concerned about scoring points, he's more likely to dive on the floor for loose balls.

"Also, they've been in their system for three years now under Gary Waters, and that makes a difference. You can see our improvement after just two years, so I think that is important."

Before talking more about the Rutgers contest, Beilein noted that WVU did have some things it could take from the Pitt loss.

"We have to move on now. Obviosuly it was a disappointing loss on an eventful night. We would have loved to have one of those rare circumstances where you knock off a top five team, but it didn't happen.

"We do feel like we grew a lot as a team against Pitt, and some of those things we learned from that game will help us," Beilein added. "I hope we grew a lot, anyway. "We will make some subtle changes and work on them in practice and in the film room.

Beilein and his staff now get back to a normal schedule after a week off prior to the Pitt contest, and the fact that three of the last four are away from the Coliseum doesn't make the taske any easier.

"We're going to have a tough practice today and get back to our old standards. We had a week to get ready for Pitt, and now we have to get back to work and concentrate on us. It will be a tough one for us there. We sneaked out with a win last year, and I almost wish we hadn't because I'm sure they will remember it. We got off to a 10-0 deficit last year, and if that happens this year we will be in trouble.

"People have winning and losing streaks, but that usually depends on where they are playing. We finish up with three of four on the road, so it's going to be tough for us. If we can get a road win, that would do a lot for us as we finish out the conference season."


Beilein praised the all-around effort of Joe Herber, and noted that the entire squad continued to play hard despite encountering some adversity against the Panthers.

"Joe didn't have a good day shooting, but he doesn't let an off-day in one area hurt him in other areas. That's something that we'll make a point of in films today," Beilein observed. "He was like a man possessed on the boards. We have to continue to strive to get those 'non-position' rebounds.

"Some of the effort areas, like Joe, were great. We kept our poise despite the ball not bouncing our way. When we got down 13-14 points it could have turned into an ugly game, but we fought back against a team that it's tough to score on. We scored 58 points while shooting just 38%. Just make a couple more shots and we have an upset that we all would have remembered."

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Beielin continues to look at raw physical skills as an area of need as his team continues to climb the Big East ladder.

"Our athleticism is what we have to improve," the veteran coach said as he recalled free balls and tipped rebounds that his team couldn't come up with. "Our quickness, through both recruiting and through our training, has to get better. We also need to gain more experience, especially for those kids that aren't playing much right now. Without question, the new guys are a step toward improving those areas."

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Despite WVU's outside shooting woes, Beilein believed that the three pointer was their best hope to knocking off the Panthers.

"We just had a couple bad shots [from three-point range], but when we threw it inside we missed some opportunities too. Both Kevin Pittsnogle and Patrick Beilein had good looks that just hit the back of the rim in the second half. We weren't going to beat them by drving by them, becasue they are too quick and strong, so we had to beat them from outside."

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