Shock Treatment

WVU men's head basketball coach John Beilein says he knows not to be surprised at anything that transpires in his game, but he admits he was caught off-guard by the defection of redshirt freshman B.J. Byerson.

"We did not plan on this," Beilein said after announcing the loss of another player from his Elite Eight team. "As a Division 1 basketball coach, nothing surprises you. You have to expect the unexpected. So I shouldn't say it's a surprise. But, when you are dealing with young men trying to make decisions, it's not as clear of a process as you would think."

Making the decision even more unexpected was the fact that Beilein had already met with Byerson and his parents a couple of months ago to discuss this very situation.

"We were concerned about him and his status, so we met with him and his family in March," Beilein related. "They had decided he would return, and that's the last commuication we had about this. It's tough, but it's a growing trend in college basketball, and we have to deal with it.

"Every basketball program in the country has problems, but it's good to have them as an Elite Eight team," Beilein continued. "We can probably move ahead easier than if we were 11-18."

As with the other defections that have plagued the Mountaineer team under Beilien's tenure, speculation has immediately commenced as to the reasons for Byerson's departure. (Attempts to contact the Byersons were unsuccessful.)

"Sometimes it's playing time, sometimes its distance from home, sometimes it's your major or your teammates," Beilein enumerated. "I don't think it's teammates in this case. When it comes down to playing time, it's difficult to satisfy everyone. People have to wait, and sometimes it's hard to wait. We're in the microwave generation - you want things a little bit quicker."

Beilein would obviously love to have the last month to do over, as it has been a nightmare of defections, draft announcements and lost recruiting chances.

"This month has been a very difficult one after all the success we had. But I thank God that we were 24-11," he said. "We'll find our way through this. Unlike three years ago, we have a strong foundation for next year. It does look like the following year will be a rebuilding one, but I like things like that. It's difficult to adjust to this on the fly, though."

Beilein admitted that he passed up a couple of players earlier this summer because he thought he would have Byerson on the team. Now that he has an extra roster spot, however, he's not going to use it just for the sake of getting another body,

"I'd rather have the scholarship available, but if we see a transfer we like we would certainly look at him if he fit. There could be some late qualifiers, too.

"I talked to (Syracuse head coach) Jim Boeheim, and he told me some of his best teams had ten guys on scholarship," Beilein related. "That was true of some of our teams at Canisius and Richmond too."

Beilein's comments display his normal optimistic outlook, but there's no doubt that his team is faced with some great challenges as it attempts to build on the great finish of a year ago.

BlueGoldNews Top Stories