Busy Schedule Limits Changes

Head coach John Beilein would like nothing better than to have a few days off to work with his team, but the crowded Big East schedule doesn't leave such a break until the final week of the season.

"We just have to work through it," has been Beilein's mantra since his Mountaineers suffered a crushing road loss to Villanova. "We thought that the St. John's game showed that we hadn't recovered. The Villanova game destroyed our confidence and we've still not responded well."

Beilein also observed that better competition has a lot to do with the recent 1-4 mark as opposed to WVU's opening 10-0 record, and that the road isn't getting any easier.

"We just played two teams with a combined record of 27-3 and we're getting ready to face two teams with a record of 29-4," Beilein said, referring to Syracuse and Connecticut, West Virginia's next two opponents.

Despite the tough stretch, the coach stressed that his squad has to stay upbeat, but noted that his team may have lacked effort at some points against the Irish.

"We are working hard to keep the guys focused. I thought that the Notre Dame game was our worst performance since I've been here. I don't think the guys are working hard on the defensive end when they don't score."

RIFLE REPORTS

To no one's surprise, Beilein said that the key to beating Syracuse is keeping tabs on Gerry McNamara and Hakim Warrick. That's a task his team was unable to achieve against Notre Dame, as they left three-point sniper Colin Falls unguarded on the perimeter.

"The keys to beating Syracuse are limiting the open looks by McNamara and Warrick," the veteran coach said. "They are going to get their shots, but we have to limit their open looks. We also have to limit their second chances."

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The criticism that a team on a losing streak endures doesn't affect Beilein, and certainly never makes him question his choice of profession.

"I have two family members in the coaching profession, and I love it," said Beilein, who is truly a teacher at heart. "I wouldn't have taken a different path if I had to do it over.

"I wanted to be a coach when I started sitting the bench," he joked. "I wanted to make a living in athletics, and I knew it had to be coaching."

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Quote of the millenium: "Tell me what easy games there are in the Big East...because there aren't any." -- Beilein on the conference schedule.


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