Measured Pace

As basketball practice gets underway tomorrow, Mountaineer head coach John Beilein is walking a tightrope.

Beilein, whose team got in ten extra practices plus a European trip earlier this summer, might be expected to say that his team is ahead of where it was a season ago. However, as is typical of the analytical coach, he says he has been giving a great deal of consideration as to how fast he wants to go during this preseason.

"I think about it a lot," Beilein said of how quickly he wanted to move with this year's team. "One of the reasons we've been strong at times has been the emphasis on fundamentals. But, you have to have more that that. You have to have talent, and have new looks and new strategies.

"I have to be careful not to rush and go to quickly, but we can't be running this like a summer bball camp and just focus on fundamentals, either," the veteran coach continued. "But with the four new guys having a chance to play early, they need to understand the basics of what we do before we move on. Even though been to Europe, we don't want to leave Darris Nichols and Luke Bonner behind because we moved too quickly."

Beilein's attempt to balance his preseason work between learning the basics and building on the lessons learned earlier this summer has it roots in last year's early season games. The New York native admitted that he and his staff did just a bit too much tinkering with the system from the season before, and as a result got away from what the Mountaineers did best.

"I think that last year we did a lot of changing in the preseason trying to be a little different than who we are, especially early in the season. We tried to do some things that weren't appropriate for this team. We backed out of them, but they did some damage. The Northeastern game and George Washington games were good examples. Both those losses were result of maybe pushing too quickly."


Beilein commented on the play of D'or Fischer and what he means to the defense.

In any zone we play, D'or Fischer is a huge factor on the back line, Even in man-to-man, he'll make up for a lot of mistakes.

In order to get better, our individual defense has to improve. But at some areas on the floor, we aren't overly quick, so we have to overcome that. We have to do better at staying in front of people on defense. Many times the large nubmer of offensive rebs we give up don't have anything to do with boxking out, it's with help defense on the perimenter. We have a guy go over and help out, and there's no way he can get back into position to block out. So, we need to be better there."

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Returnees that impressed Beilein during the summer and in small group workouts included a number of perimeter players.

"I think Mike Gansey will get us some of the rebounds and losse balls that we didn't get last year. Tyrone Sally has been the most impressive of all in preseason. He's been as close to automatic as anyone I have seen. He has shot the ball extremely well. Jarmon Durisseau-Collins has also shot the ball well. And Joe came back a month late, but he made 64 shots in five minutes the other day. He has changed his shot a bit and has worked hard to improve it."

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Beilein noted that Nichols should be on the floor for the Mountaineers this year.

"I don't think there is any question Darris will help us at the point guard, and he can play the off guard too. Those two together will be small, but ultra quick. Nick Patella will challenge them as well."

Beilein added that Patella is fully healthy after a redshirt year which was the result of concussions suffered early last season.

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WVU decided not to have a Midnight Mania event this year due to lower than expected returns.

"I think it was a combined decision on whether we got enough out of it," Beilein said. "Traditionally, on some campuses it doesn't work, where it does at some like Kentucky. We are planning on having some sort of event, although not at midnight, that will be very student-friendly and sutednt-oriented. We are looking at a couple of dates."

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