Home on the Range

While John Beilein has seemingly settled into a seven-player rotation, the eighth slot remains open – with one problem.

One would like that eighth player to be center Robert Summers. He's a key addition coaches thought could spell Kevin Pittsnogle -- who played 42 minutes versus Louisiana State -- and give them enough of a force inside to rest the sharpshooter for eight minutes per game.

Summers, Penn State transfer, has yet to show that ability, though, and the player most likely to get any time in that desired eighth slot is now guard Alex Ruoff. Beilein would like to get Joe Alexander increased time as well, but has already noted that he is set with his five seniors and Darris Nichols and Frank Young.

"We'd like, obviously, to get a bunch of the other guys in," Beilein said. "But I'll ride those guys."

The 6-6 Ruoff is listed as a guard despite being two inches shorter than forward Mike Gansey. The frosh doesn't have the ability underneath, and isn't as athletically talented on the defensive side.

Ruoff is more a hybrid of Patrick Beilein's shooting and Jo Herber's game intelligence and unselfishness. Ruoff struggled with WVU's style early, but has now learned enough offense where he can be more effective as a freelance player.

"His work ethic has helped a lot," Gansey said. "When he first came here I think he was in shock at the speed of things. He always asked if we were at game speed in practice. He didn't know what to expect. Now he can go and play; he knows the offense and what it does."

That offense has more than 100 plays and a variety of options on each so that, if clicking, it is nearly impossible to stop – a la Oklahoma and Villanova, both Top 10 wins.

"I'm a pretty smart player," Ruoff said. "But it takes awhile with this. I feel a lot more comfortable. I am more relaxed and controlled. I know where to go and have a better understating of our offense and what we're trying to do."

Ruoff has seen most of his time against Maryland-Baltimore County and Washington and Jefferson. He played a career-high 17 minutes against the Presidents, scoring a career-high nine points on a trio of three-pointers. He took just five, showing the deep range that first attracted Beilein to the Adidas prep three-point shootout champion.

"My knowledge of the game is my strength," Ruoff said. "I can shoot, too, but I think knowing what to do when is really big for me."

As the season progresses, the Spring Hill, Fla. native could play key minutes if foul trouble or weariness ensues. He scored his first collegiate basket in a tight game with LSU, proving Beilein will play him when games are still in doubt.

"I'd also like to work on my defense in the 1-3-1 and keeping the other offense out there," Ruoff said.

BlueGoldNews Top Stories