Mountaineers Not Total Strangers to Golden Flashes

A revitalized WVU team will face a foe that they have at least some familiarity with when they match up with Kent State on Wednesday in the NIT.

"We are familiar with each other and good friends with their coaching staff," head coach John Beilein noted after learning that the Golden Flashes will be the Mountaineers' opponent in the first round of the NIT. "Jim Christian is their head coach. I haven't coached with him, but I've been around long enough that I watched him play in high school."

WVU scrimmaged the Golden Flashes in a preseason event that was closed to the public, and Beilein avoided commenting on that meeting, as he was unsure of the NCAA statute of limitations on talking about the event. However, he did note that WVU is familiar with Kent State, and that the Mountaineer staff is already breaking down tape of their first-round opponent.

Like most of his players, Beilein is happy to keep the season going, and is pleased to be among the minority of teams that are still playing.

"They could tell me we were playing anybody, home or on the road," Beilein noted. "If you are playing right now, you're a happy coach. There are 200-some coaches who aren't playing right now.

"It will be good to play someone out of our league, but they are a very good team. They still have some of their players from the Elite Eight two years ago. They have great quickness and play great defense. They won't be quite as big as other teams we've faced, although they have a seven-footer in the middle. They aren't quite as big on the wings as some of the other teams we've played."


WVU practiced on Sunday for the first time since returning from New York, and Beilein saw some spring in his players' step.

"We had three days off, and our legs were as good as I've seen them," Beilein said of the break. "We shot it well and defended real hard in practice today. Our attitude was terrific. You have to remember that only D'or has ever played a postseason game, so they are pretty excited."

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Despite the preseason scrimmage, Beilein thinks that the long season, coupled with changes on both teams, means that the early view each staff got of the other's team won't be a big factor.

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Beilein was not disappointed at having to go on the road for the first-round matchup.

"I think the NIT has done a great job. They try to make equitable matchups. They have to pay the bills, so sometimes a team that has a chance to host a Big East team might be a better revenue deal for them. At Richmond, we played at home one time, then went on the road, and we played both at home and on the road at Canisius. It's a time when you just want the opportunity to win."

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This will be Beilein's fifth appearance in NIT, where he has an overall record of 7-5. He was 3-3 while at Canisius, and 4-2 at Richmond.

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