Down The Stretch

Head coach John Beilein has tried to rest his team as it heads into crunch time at the end of the regular season.

"We have tried to get rested," Beilein said of his team's schedule this week. "We went light on Tuesday and took Wednesday off, and that's the first time we've had consecutive days where we had little time on our legs since Christmas. We had a two-hour practice on Thursday and will have a shorter one tomorrow."

Although the Mountaineers had an extended off period between the Syracuse and Louisville games, followed by a quick turnaround against Pitt two days later, Beilein is not jumping the gun on preparation.

"We concentrated on making ourselves better, with the emphasis on Louisville," he said of the week's work. "We have some time [to prepare] for Pitt, since it's a night game on Monday. We don't look ahead to the team coming up."


Beilein noted it was "painful" to watch the tape of last year's Louisville contest.

"I watched it this summer, and then watched it several times this week," he related. "It was a tremendous game; they just kept coming back. Their defense and offense was tremendous. When we were shooting so well from outside. I just wish we could have ended up with a win."

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In the three-game stretch which wraps up on Saturday, WVU will have faced Jim Calhoun, Jim Boeheim and Rick Pitino. That's three hall of fame level coaches, no matter how you slice it.

"At my old levels of coaching, you'd face guys like that maybe once per year," Beilein noted, "It's what you always dreamed of as a coach, to be on the stage with those guys and see if your guys are as well prepared as they always have their team. You don't coach against them, you coach against their team. In our preparations, we try to recall their tendencies, but during the game I'm more thinking about my players and the adjustments we can make.

"They all have a feel for winning and how to lead a team," Beilein said of the strengths each share. "they know how to push them just far enough where they are still hungry but don't get worn down during the season."

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West Virginia is quite familiar with Louisville's Taquan Dean and the problems he poses.

"You have to get a hand in his face, but they run some stuff to keep you from doing that," Beilein said. "We have to adjust what we do. He's a tremendous shooter and his assist numbers are good. If he gets it going against us, he could be a one-man team."

Beilein also noted that while the Cardinals will miss David Padgett, who is out for the season with a knee injury, they have already made adjustments that make them a strong opponent.

"Both backups to Padgett – well they seem like guys that they can just plug in and they do well. I think they will be great players. They have a drop off in experience, but not in talent. We watched the Louisville game on Wednesday, and they have been playing with three quick players quite a bit. They are all good perimeter players, and are consistent with having a skilled four man in there, then [rotating] the two big kids in the middle. We will try to do the best we can to figure out how to defend them and score against them. They are a great defensive team."

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