Missed Chances Put More Pressure on WVU

Head coach John Beilein knows that his team had chances to knock off both Syracuse and Connecticut, but can't dwell on the lost opportunities as the Mountaineers prepare to travel to Providence.

"[The UConn game] was one we had a chance to win, just like the Syracuse game," the veteran mentor said Thursday. "We have to make some shots and get a key stop. Not getting the stop seems to follow a key miss –our focus is not what it needs to be."

This isn't the first time that Beilein has fingered a problem other than shooting as the reason for WVU's current five game losing streak. He has noted that his team is "fragile" in some instances, and that it often takes a while for his squad to bounce back from adversity.

Improving shooting is one thing. The current WVU slump, although approaching record proportions, will end at some point. However, changing a team's psyche would appear to be a more difficult task. Working with players to stay positive and think about the game in a way that is foreign to them could take time, and that's something that Beilein and his staff don't have a lot of.

Despite the challenge, Beilein believes that there are several ways in which his team's mental toughness might improve.

"A win would really be the quickest fix," he said with a laugh. "That would help a lot. But I think we just have to keep them believing in themselves. We have an extra day on this trip (to Providence and Boston College). Maybe that atmosphere of being away from home and being together will help. It could help us get together, improve team chemistry, and play for each other a little bit."


In addition to the schedule, Beilein also pointed to the grueling nature of the Big East schedule as one factor in the current slump.

"Our big problem has been who we played and how we played them," he noted. "We have a lot of two game preps. Because we aren't as athletic or as physically strong as many teams we play, every day for us is important, whether it's resting or putting in a game plan. It's hard to improve with [the two day turnaround] schedule. I'm not looking for sympathy, because everyone has to do this. We have to focus on improving; not that you lost a game."

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Beilein's study of Providence has yielded a team with striking similarities, at least so far as the level of opponents and current record go.

"I think we are in a similar situation with Providence, partly due to the teams we have played. Not that any team in the Big East is easy, but have been playing tough teams. Providence has played Boston College twice, Syracuse, and Villanova. Those are all teams we have played, and that are very, very good. They need a win just as badly as we do. WVU will not return home after the Providence game, but will travel on to Boston for the February 1st game against the Eagles. The Mountaineers will return home after that contest to face Pitt on February 5th.

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