Curb Your Enthusiasm

One will forgive West Virginia fans if they meander around in a nirvana-like fog. The football team's Sugar Bowl victory and No. 5 final ranking coupled with the basketball team's first-ever 2-0 Big East start and No. 16 rank has created a haze of hoopla previously unseen at WVU.

Never before have the two marquee teams had as much success in the same seasons. That's great for coach Rich Rodriguez, who can sell the sweetness of victory to recruits until the Feb. 2 signing day. It's not so much for basketball's John Beilein, who has half the regular season slate left in the grueling Big East.

"It's great to have the excitement and interest, which we have here," Beilein said. "But 2-0 doesn't mean anything in this Big East. People are making way too much of this. They're treating it like March when it's January."

Beilein immediately addressed the gusto and zeal by asking for a shorter press conference Tuesday because of the difficulty in prepping for Georgetown (10-2, 2-0).

"Their guards are absolutely terrific," Beilein said. "(Assistant coach) Mike Maker and I were just in awe watching them. They have beaten us three out of four times I have been here. It would be a great win if they came in here and we beat them. If we don't, it's not the end of the year."

True, especially because the Mountaineers (10-3, 2-0) already have two road wins and will play its next three games at home and six of the next eight at non-road venues. They have already beaten two different top 10 teams – Oklahoma and Villanova – in the regular season for the first time since 1957 (Dec. 20 and 21 versus No. 5 Kentucky and No. 1 North Carolina, respectively, in the Wildcat Classic).

"Well, with better officiating and impartial crews, it's easier to win on the road than it used to be," Beilein said. "You don't just pick out some people to come in and ref. Now, it's still hard. But it's easier than it once was."

West Virginia made it look like it. The Mountaineers rallied from 15 points down at red-hot shooting and formerly-unbeaten Villanova, showing an icy cool demeanor and solid game awareness. It also won at South Florida when it played poorly, normally the sign of good teams.

"I'm not sure why we look so much better on the road right now," Kevin Pittsnogle said. "We like to play there, though. It's a lot of fun."

West Virginia, winners of eight consecutive contests, leads the Big East in assists, turnover margin, assist-to-turnover ratio and three-pointers made.

"There are two things I don't like – people getting threes on us, which I saw a lot of against Villanova, and giving them the ball," Beilein said. "When things are clicking or other teams are doing things to allow us to click, then we're going to win some games. It's a long season and I'm not all that comfortable with the congratulations. We have not done anything yet."

But if West Virginia can start 3-0, 4-0, or, dare we dream, 5-0? That's a 13-3 WVU team six points from a 15-1 mark and a top five ranking heading into the rarified air of UCLA's Pauley Pavilion for a nationally-televised game. At that point Beilein can ask for all the Larry Davidlike sense in the world. It won't matter.


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