Tough Going

Head coach John Beilein was his usual positive self while commenting on his team's 1-2 record over the past three outings.

"We just finished a really tough road trip. There's not too many times you feel fortunate to win one of three, although we would have liked to have won them all," said Beilein of the recently completed stretch against Pitt, Georgetown and Seton Hall. "I don't think there's many teams in the league that can win three of those games or even two of those three."

With that stretch behind them, WVU doesn't get a break, however. Up next is Connecticut, acclaimed by most as one of the top two teams in the nation.

"The UConn game is a whole ‘nother situation," Beilein commented. "This is an extremely talented team with a Hall of Fame coach. We will have to play an incredible game to be there at the end. But, the schedule has been like this the whole year. Our non-conference schedule [was just as difficult], with Texas, Kentucky and LSU, then Oklahoma and UCLA. I think our kids don't know any different right now. We just attack each game, and know that each game is a top level team in the country."

Although the Mountaineers have lost two of their last three, and face the probability of more defeats during the remaining five regular season games, Beilein hopes that observers don't believe his team is struggling or fading down the stretch.

"Sometimes you get in this situation," he explained. "We played good Big East teams, like Villanova and Georgetown and Marquette early, but the teams we have are playing now are at the highest level. I hope people don't think that we aren't playing well. We're just playing better teams. It's a tough go for all of us. I hope the NCAA doesn't look at it that way. We aren't getting worse because we are playing each other – it's just a very competitive league."


Beilein noted that Mike Gansey has made great progress since transferring from St. Bonaventure.

"The biggest [improvement] has been Mike's defense," he noted. "At St. Bonaventure he played almost all zone, and although we play a lot of zone, his man to man has come on. His outside shooting, aggressiveness and confidence have really come on. He shoots on the move more now, and shoots better off the dribble. The last couple of games he has had some tough nights, but he is a terrific outside shooter."

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One of the interesting items to note is the number of national media on the Big East conference calls each week. With its status as the number one basketball conference in the nation, scribes and pundits from just about every national outlet make an appearance on the weekly interview sessions. John Beilein and WVU are right in the midst of the interest, as Beilein has fielded questions from locales across the country during his appearances on the teleconference.

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Beilein believes he can learn a few things from the tape of the Connecticut-Villanova matchup earlier this week.

"There may be some things we can look at from Nova game because we aren't biggest team in world, although we aren't as quick as Nova," he observed. "I have watched clips of our games against UConn in the past, but I haven't watched much of [the Connecticut – Villanova] game either. I know I will learn a lot from watching the VU-UC game, because those are two great coaches there."

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Beilein compares UConn standout Rudy Gay to former Big East stars that are now plying their trades in the NBA.

"Rudy Gay reminds of guys we see in this league all the time. He's another long forward that you will watch play at another level for many years to come. Hakim Warrick and Carmelo Anthony come to mind right away. He can get you from outside, but if there's a traffic rebound he'll come up with it, and if you drive the ball he might pin it . He is completing his package right now under Jim's coaching."

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While West Virginia's unique offensive attack might appear to give it an edge in game preparations, the advantage is mostly offset because most teams play the Mountaineers differently on defense. That forces WVU to adjust to a number of different game plans, which obviously takes more time and doesn't allow many items to be shared from contest to contest.

"Everyone guards us differently," Beilein noted. "We have to make adjustments, then they make adjustments, and then I might outsmart myself and we don't get a shot. But the more people see us, the more we have to adjust."

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