Crossing Paths

WVU head coach John Beilein hasn't crossed paths with his next opponent, Texas Tech's Bob Knight, but he does remember the handful of encounters he's had with the controversial coach.

"As a student athlete who wanted to become a coach, I've been following Bob Knight's career since he was at Army," Beilein recounted Monday. "Those first clinics I went to, back in the days when we slept four to a room, guys like Bob Knight and John Wooden were there. Those were my first opportunities to learn the game from the coaching standpoint. I learned how important fundamentals are as opposed to Xs and Os. At those clinics, I learned more about understanding fundamentals, like pivoting and passing and catching, than about offensive and defensive schemes.

"We also crossed paths when we upset South Carolina in the first round of the NCAAs at the MCI Center in 1998. He certainly won't remember this, but he was walking in and I was walking out. He said, ‘Nice game coach,' and I was thrilled he knew I was the head coach at Richmond."

Although Knight's and Beilein's approaches to the game couldn't be more different, the Mountaineer mentor believes that some of the basic building blocks of their philosophies are the same. However, he declined to pass any opinions on Knight's on- and off-court issues.

"The core values of teamwork and togetherness we have are the same," Beilein analyzed. "But I never try to judge other coaches. Different guys have different reasons for what they do."

Turning to the team, Beilein thinks the Texas Tech squad is similar to a current Big East foe, and to WVU's first round NCAA victim, Creighton.

"I think their quickness is similar to Villanova, and both are terrific man-to-man defensive teams. In another respect, their teamwork and efficiency is like Creighton. They are very efficient in how they play offensively and defensively, and people know their roles there."

West Virginia figures to have a good idea of what Tech does, as Knight has long favored man defense and a constantly moving, screening and reading offense. Mountaineer assistant Jerry Dunn, who coached against Knight when the former was at Penn State and the latter at Indiana, will make up the scouting report for this game.

The Red Raiders' offense requires its players to screen, move and do a lot of reading of the opponent's defense. Beilein explains that the concepts are simple, but that it is very effective when run correctly.

"If you play your defense one way, they will convince you that are doing it right, and then do something else to counter it. For instance, if you play a man on the high side, he will move out one step higher, then go low on you. They will get you doing one thing, then read and react and do something else."


Gonzaga ran a 1-3-1 defense against the Red Raiders in Round Two, but again Beilein didn't seem overly worried about the apparent loss of surprise WVU would face when they use their signature defensive set.

"The1-3-1 is played differently by many people, and there's a lot of different ways to play it," he explained. "It's almost like in football, showing one defense and running another or blitzing. Unless Gonzaga played it exactly like we did, you might not learn a whole lot from it."

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Asked if he expected to be the Big East standard bearer, along with Villanova, for the Sweet 16, Beilein somewhat surprisingly answered in the negative.

"I'm not surprised by anything in March Madness, said the coach, who has 501 career wins to his credit. "I don't know where Villanova was picked in the league, but we were 10th, so for us to be in it that has to be a surprise. But after the experience at Madison Square Garden, you can see teams that can get hot, but then have one bad game and the season is over. A lot of coaches, like myself, don't get surprised because we

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Beilein joked that some of the treatments he was taking for his lost voice could have been to blame for the technical foul he got following one official's horrendous call in the Wake Forest game.

"I've been taking some medicine including some steroids, so maybe I can blame the technical on that," the coach deadpanned. "Maybe it was a chemical imbalance."

The coach smacked a nearby table in frustration after Fischer picked up a fool against the Demon Deacons.

Beilein's voice was still in a delicate stage on Monday, and the coach is continuing to take treatments, including hot team with lemon and honey.

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Beilein has talked with assistant Jerry Dunn about his run to the Sweet 16 with Penn State in 2001.

"There are a lot of similarities in their games and ours," Beilein said of the Nittany Lions' run four seasons ago. Jerry and I have talked about it a lot.

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An even lighter practice schedule than last week's should help keep the Mountaineers fresh for Albuquerque. WVU watched tape on Monday, and today the starters and top reserves will only conduct a walk through along with more tape work and some lifting. The players that did not play much in Cleveland will practice hard and get work in.

"We certainly are not as tired as we were last week at this time," Beilein commented. "Playing two games in three days seemed almost like a break for us."

Beilein is not concerned with the altitude of Albuquerque, which is more than a mile above sea level.

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