WVU Returns To Floor

The West Virginia men's basketball team returned to the court today for the first time since its run through the Big East Tournament that culminated with a 68-59 loss to the Syracuse Orange in the championship game.

The team had two days of rest after a brutal four games in four days stretch that ended Saturday night.

Head coach John Beilein addressed the media prior to Tuesday's practice. The team was to practice full-throttle today and again Wednesday morning before departing for Cleveland at noon. West Virginia will practice again at 6 p.m. Wednesday evening at the Wolstein Center, the site of its first-round matchup with No. 10 seed Creighton.

The practice will be short (approximately 50 minutes) as WVU is sharing the facility with three other teams. Beilein said his team would then return to the hotel until game time Thursday night.

The Saturday to Thursday turn-around gives Beilein some comfort.

"We are only one day off our regular rhythm. When we went to Seton Hall, we were seven days off our rhythm," Beilein said. "I'm glad we can rest a little bit but not lose the continuity that we had before."

Beilein admitted that he is an admirer of Creighton's program and its recent success, but he stated that the limited amount of videotape available made it difficult to get a read on the Blue Jays.

Creighton, which often employs a smallish lineup heavy on outside shooters, has Beilein believing the game's outcome could hinge on each team's success on the perimeter.

"I think whichever team can defend the 3-ball well is going to have a little bit of an advantage because both of us rely so much on it," Beilein said.

Creighton is 4th in the nation in three-point field goal percentage (41.5 percent) and has attempted 687 3-point shots.

"They are really good at driving the ball and kicking," Beilein said. "It seems to me both teams play with a pretty high basketball IQ." Beilein said he and his staff are dissecting two Creighton videos, as well as a third video full of clips from different games.

After two days of rest, the Mountaineers appeared eager to return to the court, especially with the surge of confidence that has engulfed the squad.

"Everybody's starting to feel better. Everybody's been laying around the past few days trying to get the legs back and get some rest," WVU center Kevin Pittsnogle said. "Our confidence is way up considering the past week with how we played and shot the ball."

Pittsnogle also stated that the team is not content with its recent success.

"We're still ready to keep going. We're not ready to stop yet," Pittsnogle said. "We'll let it settle in after the season is over."

Senior forward Tyrone Sally will be reinserted into the starting lineup for Thursday's opening round contest. Sally missed all of the Big East quarterfinal matchup with Boston College, and played sparingly in the final two games of the conference tournament. The coaching staff worked Sally out independently on Monday while the remainder of the team rested.

"Tyrone was terrific yesterday," Beilein said. "We did work him out hard yesterday because we wanted him to get some legs."

In all, Sally played just 56 minutes in the Big East tournament. In comparison, Mike Gansey played 121, or just over 30 minutes per game. Frank Young, who started the final three games of the Big East tournament, will return to the bench.

Speaking of Gansey, Thursday will be a homecoming for the junior guard. Gansey grew up in Olmsted Falls, Ohio, which sits just 18 miles from downtown Cleveland. Additionally, Gansey's younger brother Steve is a freshman guard at Cleveland State, the site of this weekend's games.

A gleaming Gansey said he expected a large contingent of supporters to make the half-hour trek to the Wolstein Center, but said all the attention and hubbub over WVU's success is humbling.

And finally, if you were wondering about the storied history between West Virginia University and Creighton, here it is.

Creighton edged West Virginia by a score of 27-26 on February 22, 1932. Eddie Cubbon led WVU with 8 points in the loss.

Mickey Furfari, a longtime WVU beat writer, told Coach Beilein Tuesday that he was, in fact, at the game as a nine-year old. Beilein had earlier joked that Furfari must have been in attendance. The quick-witted Furfari wanted to keep his confession of sneaking into the game under wraps, however, for fear that athletic director Pastilong would make him cough up a bleated price of admission.

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