Working Vacation

The Mountaineer men's basketball team is taking advantage of its week off to work on a number of items after Saturday's big win over LSU.

"It's a little different to have a week with no game," head coach John Beilein said after WVU's heavy practices on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. "It feels a little funny, but it's nice to be able to go back and work on a lot of things. Despite the 3-0 start, we have many areas to shore up. But it has been very, very helpful, and hopefully it will show up in weeks to come."

Beilein mentioned a few of the areas of concern that have received attention since the Mountaineers returned home form Baton Rouge.

"We haven't faced great ball pressure or ball denial yet, so we are working on that. We haven't seen a lot of zone, so we are working against that too. We have been off on our timing and our reads, and right now it's taking us 2-3 games to get comfortable with adjustments we make in practice. We have to get to where we can practice and be comfortable with it right away."

Beilein was pleased with his team's play against the Tigers, but noticed that WVU might have enjoyed a bit of luck.

"In the LSU game the ball really bounced our way. We just got some fortuitous bounces, but maybe some of that is because of hustle. It was a great win."


WVU's next opponent, Radford, is in something of the same position for its visit to Morgantown as WVU was for its trip to the bayou. The Highlanders, while not big, have a number of good shooters and a good bit of returning experience.

"You can see by Winthrop score with Providence last night that we are all vulnerable," Beilein said, referring to the Eagles' 60-54 win over the Friars. "If you take a team for granted or have a bad game, you can get beat."

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Mike Gansey is still not at 100%, but is improving. He went through the entire 2 1/2 hour practice on Tuesday, and while he still isn't jumping with the abandon he shows when fully healthy, he still gets to many loose balls and rebounds.

In news that doesn't appear as good, point guard Nick Patella, who suffered another concussion last Friday, has met with doctors and is scheduled to meet with Beilein today. Beilein indicated an announcement on Patella's status would be forthcoming shortly.

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WVU will begin doing prep work for Radford on Thursday, having spent the early part of the week on things "we will use against anyone," according to Beilein. The Mountaineers are playing Radford for the exposure in Virginia, as well as part of its habit of trying to play games against teams near the hometowns of players on the WVU roster.

"This one is for Darris [Nichols]," Beilein noted. "Since Virginia Tech is not willing to play us, this puts us in that area where our fans there can see us too."

WVU has a two-for-one deal with the Highlanders.

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This is the first of two week-long breaks WVU will have in December. The Mountaineers will be off from December 12-17 for finals.

"We were supposed to be at St. Bonaventure today or yesterday," Beilein noted. "But they wanted to play Syracuse tonight, and that is a big game for them, so they asked us to move our game. After long trip to LSU, I'm glad we did."

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Brad Byerson, who has yet to see action in the regular season, "isn't doing anything wrong", according to Beilein. He is simply stuck behind players who are performing better, and is still learning the ropes after spending last year with the scout team.

"It's tough to get down to that 10th or12th guy," Beilein explained. "He hasn't shown he can move up to that level yet. "Sometimes a guy thinks that he just needs a chance in a game, but you get a chance every day in practice for two hours to show what you can do. Brad has done some good things, but he needs to improve in the nuances of offense and defense, and have a better understanding of the schemes that we run. Everyone's learning curve is different."

The bottom line, however, is that Beilein has to put the team on the floor that has the best chance of winning the game.

"I can't get caught up in trying to play 11 or 12 guys to keep everyone happy. We have to win games."

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