Shooting Woes Not Physical

Head coach John Beilein doesn't believe his team is tired, or showing bad shooting form, despite the Mountaineers' marksmanship problems over the past few games.

"I don't think any of those things are to blame," Beilein said Monday. "It's more I think, that one of those teams (Pitt) is one of the best defensive field goal percentage tenams in the country, and that Rutgers is one of the tops in our league. And we thought that Rutgers was just about even with Pitt defensively.

"Then we go to Virginia Tech, which is a road game. And I think their defense had something to do with it too. "I don't see any physical problems, it's just the teams we are playing are tough, plus playing on the road makes it even more difficult."

Beilein also answered the obligatory questions about WVU's fade at the end of the season. Although he dind't note that each team, and each situation is different, and that a losing streak at the end of one season doens't have anything to do with the next, Beilein emphasized that he has answered questions like this before.

"You've heard me say it a hundered times - it's not about stretches of the year, it's who you play and where you play. We have three of our last four on road. No matter when you play those games, whether it's November or February, that's tough. We probably aren't ready to win all those games on the road yet. It has nothing to do with the end of the season."

RIFLE REPORTS

Tyler Relph's nose is "puffy and sore" but otherwise undamaged, according to Beilein. Although careful not to comment on the officiating, he said that game tapes showed two elbows thrown by Bryant Matthews, neither of which were called. One of those connected with Relph, while the other was aimed at Joe Herber. Beilein termed the elbows "vicious" and noted that he was "disapointed and concerned" after viewing them on tape.

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Beilein noted that D'or Fischer, who has been saddled with foul problems recently, is trying to break a habit of poor hand positioning.

"He's getting his hands slightly on the guy's back [on rebounds], and he's getting pushoffs. You can bump with a hip, and that's fine. But his hands are in the wrong place, so we're working to break that habit and get it corrected."

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WVU's senior night activities will focus on walkon Jonathan Curran and managers Wes Brooks and Bill Hurley.

"Jonathan Curran and two of our managers will be honored before the game," Beilein said of the pre-game ceremonies scheduled before the Syracuse game on Tuesday. "John has been as important to our program as anyone. I know that sounds crazy, but fans who don't see us practice or sit in the locker room or on the bus don't see all the things he brings and the effects he's had on this team. He's one of the best selections I've made."

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Syracuse's upset win over Pitt could change the way the Orangemen approach the game, but Beilein isn't sure that the big win, or, for that matter, a loss, will affect how the New Yorkers play.

"Do we want them to come in here angy or overconfident?", Beilein asked rehtorically. "I don't think either way matters. Jim Boeheim is too good of a coach to let that matter. His teams continually win, and win on the road, and they are one of the best in the country. They always have long armed guys that make it tough to see. Pitt didn't attack them inside, so if you are not shooting outside well you are not going to win against them.

"I've been following Boeheim since he was in his 20s, but didn't get to know him until I coached in the same city with him in 1983. He just prepares kids so well, both for basketball and for life after college."

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Last season Syracuse depended on the penetration of Billy Edelin and Gerry McNamara, but with half that combination gone Syracuse has been struggling to score and create points.

"His loss has affected them somewhat, but it seemed like it was fixed last night," Beilein noted. "We have to have a good mix of shooting against them from both inside and out, and that's easier said than done with the height they have."

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In response to a question about heightening the "sense of urgency" around the final games of the season, Beilein again responded with an even keel response.

"I don't think I have to say 'Get this done right now'," Beilein noted. "We've made a great step in the right direction this year, and there's no way you can say this season has been a failure."


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