Lucky 13?

West Virginia's riding a 10-game winning streak for the second consecutive year, the longest such run since it won 22 games in 1988-89. It's also off to its best Big East start ever. So what are players doing to ensure the winning continues following a victory after Friday the 13th?

Superstitions abound in baseball, where players have been known to shower right before games or with clothes on, not shower, bone bats, take them to exorcists, eat licorice and brush teeth between innings, touch bases and avoid foul lines and a myriad of other nuances.

WVU's basketball players are similar, but not quite as fanatical. Frank Young, for example, listens to the same CD while making his 30-minute drive through rush hour traffic for 7 p.m. games. He also showers prior to tip-off.

Patrick Beilein eats two grilled chicken sandwiches from Chick-Fil-A. What of Sunday games, when the Christian-owned store is closed?

"I don't know," he said. "I have never run into that. I have grilled chicken in the freezer, too."

Beilein has also taken to wearing two socks on his left foot and one on his right. His roommate, Mike Gansey, is said to be the most superstitious of all.

"Mike's pretty bad," Beilein said. "He showers and shaves right before the game. He listens to the same songs on his headset. I think he has some eating ritual, too."

But that's just it. Superstition is something one does only when things are going well, not an every-game event.

"I did have one," forward Jo Herber said. "I was growing a beard at the start of last season and didn't cut it until after the Villanova game (WVU's first loss of the season). It was gone after that. I think guys just get comfortable in a routine more than they are superstitious."

Gansey has. He wears a matching T-shirt under his jersey every game. Against Marquette, he wore two because WVU chose the grey uniforms.

"I knew the way I sweated I'd need two," he said. "That dull grey color, I didn't want to look like I'd just got out of the pool in the middle of the game."

Perhaps he should wear two from now on. The forward scored a career-high 33 points in Saturday's win over Marquette. He made eight threes, trying a WVU record. Gansey also calls his grandparents before every game.

"They don't have to wait by the phone or anything," he said. "If they're not there, I just leave a message. They usually are. We just talk for about two or three minutes. They wish me luck. It's something that started in high school and just continued."

J.D. Collins is Gansey's antithesis. He said he is not superstitious at all.

"I just go out and follow the game plan," he said. "Some nights we will win, some we won't. We just try to pull it out."

No. 12/17 West Virginia (12-3, 4-0 Big East) plays host to Providence (7-7, 0-3) on Tuesday at 7 p.m. The Mountaineers then play three straight games away from home and seven of its next 10 away from home.


* Kevin Pittsnogle's, wife, Heather, is due with their first child, a boy, in early February. The 6-11 center said he does not plan on missing a game, but that the birth of his son is the top priority.

"It just depends upon when she decides to go into labor," Pittsnogle said. "I'll not stay behind unless she is in labor right before a game. I'll play unless it happens the day of (a game). But (the birth) is what is most important."

Pittsnogle leaves he cell phone with the student managers during practices in case his wife does go into labor. Heather has still attended the last two games during the homestand. She sits for the majority of the game now.

"She still gets pretty excited sometimes and will get up," he said. "But (the birth) is really exciting for us."

* An ESPN anylist said that he thought Wake Forest would offer WVU head coach John Beilein its head coaching job if current coach Skip Prosser should leave, resign or be fired. There would likely be a salary increase. The Deamon Deacons would also have to buy out Beilein's remaining contract, slated through 2010-11.

"I haven't heard anything about that," Beilein said. "I'm coaching West Virginia right now. And if I did, I'll never talk about anything in my future except coaching West Virginia."

The anylist also said he thought former WVU player and Cincinnati head coach Bob Huggins would then take the West Virginia job. Nothing of the sort has officially been said by either Wake Forest or WVU as of Jan. 16.

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