To The Hoop

West Virginia's basketball practice sessions today included a great deal of work on achieiving one of head coach John Beilein's main goals for the coming season.

Several times last season, Beilein noted that one of his wishes for future editions of the Mountaineer hoop team was the ability to attack the basket and get to the rim. Depsite Beilein's love for good midrange and outside shooting, he wants a well-rounded team that can take the ball up strong, draw fouls, and score some easier hoops.

To that end, the WVU squad was in full attack mode during Friday's practice sessions, running a number of drills designed to get potential scorers moving toward the basket.

Those sessions included time working on screening and drive penetration, backdoor cuts, and continuous fast break drills. During those fast break sessions, Tyrone Sally and Duriel Price drew praise for their effort and intensity in what was otherwise something of an up and down period.

Another drill that was employed at times last season was also renewed, as managers and graduate assistants whacked players with the ball in the lane as they attempted to get a shot off. It wasn't gentle taps, either, as the pads were wielded with considerable force to encourage Mountaineer shooters to take the ball up strongly and ignore, or fight through, contact on their way to the rim. During the drill, players receive a pass and must bang their way past a pad wielding opponent as they go to the hole. while it may not look like basketball, it's a good practice technique.

Head coach John Beilein said the next three days were "huge" as the team prepares for their six game journey through Holland, Czechoslovakia and Germany. The Mountaineers will have two practices on Saturday and wrap up with a single session on Sunday.


The team as a whole isn't in game shape, but Beilein said that was to be expected, as the team has been working at camps, lifting, and practicing for the Eurotrip. One player in particular who had some rough conditioning moments was D'or Fischer.

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One player who isn't bothered by conditioning issues is Kevin Pittsnogle. The Martinsburg, W. Va. native is at 259 pounds, but still beat the defense down the court for several hoops in transition. Pittsnogle was in a jovial mood before the afternoon practice, inquiring "How are things in the sportswriting world?" of the assembled reporters.

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WVU is also working on some new offensive sets that will utilize the four and five positions in different spots on the court.

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Forward Frank Young was slowed a bit by apparent ankle sprains, and sat out a couple of drills. Young, who is getting a look at both the three and four spots, had both ankles taped.

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