Mountaineers Looking to Break Out Against UConn

Shhhh. Don't say it. No, no, no don't say it. If you say anything about it, you might jinx the team. But it's so hard to keep it inside!! Alright, ok how about this: we'll just put it in question form. Is the Mountaineers' dreadful slump from the field, particularly the three point line, over?

Some may say yes, some may say not quite yet, but one thing that can't be disputed is that the second half of Saturday's game against Syracuse certainly gave those of us in the Mountaineer Nation hope that the Blue and Gold can return to their clutch shooting ways from the beginning of the season.

"I wouldn't say the funk's behind us yet. We made a step at least. Tyrone made a couple, Pat made a few," said Mountaineer head coach John Beilein.

The "Pat" he speaks of is of course his own son, Patrick Beilein. The younger Beilein was shooting the rock with Jimmy Chitwood-like consistency in the first ten games, but cooled off dramatically over the next five. On Saturday though, he returned to the Patty B that we're used to seeing, canning five treys, including a couple of baskets from well beyond NBA range.

Unfortunately for the Mountaineers, they still lost the game, and the schedule doesn't get any easier with Connecticut invading the Coliseum tomorrow night. This is a classic UConn team that works from the inside out. They are led inside by Josh Boone and Charlie Villanueva, but have their own downtown threat in the form of Rashad Anderson.

"They have a great outside shooter, Anderson, who looks like he's gotten out of his shooting slump just in time for us," said Mountaineer junior Mike Gansey.

Cold temperatures, ice, and snow prevented the Mountaineers from leaving Syracuse on Saturday night, so they got the chance to watch the Pitt-UConn tilt on national television. Despite the Huskies loss, the Mountaineers came away impressed.

"They're real long, they've got great athletes. We've just got to play our game and try to keep them off the boards. They're so talented, and they've got so many great players. They're not on top of their game, but they will be by March," said Gansey.

Added the younger Beilein: "Hopefully we can just rebound like we have been. We've got to get them off the boards and not let them get easy buckets."

While few are giving the Mountaineers a fighting chance on Tuesday night, hopefully the positives that can be taken from the Syracuse loss will give them something to build on come game time.

"We played as hard as we could against Syracuse. We really played well, even though we didn't get a win. Obviously coming back and having to play UConn is real tough, but hopefully having them on our home court our fans will come out and we'll give it our all," summed up Gansey.

Connecticut no doubt has more individual talent than West Virginia right now. But with a hostile crowd at their back, and a little swagger back in their step maybe, just maybe, the Mountaineers can work a little magic against the Huskies.


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