Shuffles in Schemes?

Things will return to status quo for the noon tip-off against Cincinnati in the regular season finale' – which could be good or bad, depending upon the threesome of subjects.

West Virginia head coach John Beilein said he would likely start the normal lineup, again inserting Frank Young in place of Patrick Beilein, who started for just the second time in his career and first time this season in the Senior Night win over No. 8 Pitt.

The lineup produced immediately, using three Jo Herber 3-pointers – the senior had not hit three in a game all season – to jump out to leads of 13-2 and 19-6. But Beilein has a history of sticking with lineups and not changing simply for the sake of doing so. He has made just two major lineup shuffles in his four years, the first a result of settling into a unit in his first year as he began using Tyrone Sally more over Josh Yeager.

The second was a point guard battle between J.D. Collins and the now-departed Tyler Relph. If Beilein would not have started his son, WVU would go into the UC game with the chance to become the first Mountaineer team to use the same lineup through one regular season since 1988-89.

Part of Herber's success, and perhaps that of West Virginia, was that the player was starting at power forward as Beilein slid in at shooting guard. Herber was better able to utilize screens and gain open looks. Young, too, has been in a slump. He has missed 16 of his last 17 3-pointers, and at times is hesitant to shoot, bogging down the offensive flow. Herber scored 11 points and had three assists out of his normal slot in the first game against UC.

The other aspect that will go as planned? West Virginia will stick with its same strategy it used in the home game against Cincinnati – namely trading 3-pointers for twos, not worrying about UC's inside dominance and a likely switch from the 1-3-1 defense to make on missed baskets.

WVU made seven 3-pointers in its first 10 second-half hoops against the Bearcats in the first game after missing 13 of its first 17 3-point shots. It trailed 33-30 at the break before tweaking the offense at halftime.

"I watched the tape of both halves, and it was minute, the difference in intensity level," John Beilein said. "But that little bit made the difference."

Cincinnati relies on inside baskets more than any other Big East team WVU has faced. In the first contest, it was led by Erick Hicks' 22 points, then two off his season high. He also had 11 rebounds for his 10th overall double-double and his eighth in the last 11 games as of then.

"A lot of people look dominant inside against us," John Beilein said. "I think Hicks has to dunk on you twice before you realize you are playing a giant of a man."

The other consensus was that West Virginia approaches this game like any other it has played.

"It was a tough game here so I can only imagine what it will be like there, on Senior Day," Kevin Pittsnogle said.

Tough especially for him because two days before he had been up all night with wife Heather, who gave birth the day before the game. Pittsnogle said he was drained during the game, but he still managed 12 points, two behind Mike Gansey's team-high 14.

"We'll play hard," Pittsnogle said. "We don't want to end the regular season on a losing note. We hate to lose. And we went to the Big East Tournament last year with no momentum. We really want to win to keep it going.

"They are not overpowering inside. It's not like playing UConn or anything, but they are very athletic."

Said Gansey: "It might be the first one we go in relaxed. That's about the only difference. They might use the inside more than any other team except LSU. Hicks and (Glenn) Big Baby (Davis) are relentless in there."

West Virginia is already guaranteed the third seeding in the Big East Tournament. It will play the winner of the Nos. 6 vs. 11 game, which would likely be Marquette at this point. WVU will have a four-day layoff after the noon game Saturday because the No. 3 seed does not play until 9 p.m. Thursday in the Big East Tournament.

"We've been really rolling and played well (in the postseason) and really rolling and played poorly," John Beilein said. "Or we have been playing what we thought was out worst basketball of the season, then gone to the NCAA Tournament."

Conclusion? The coach isn't putting much emphasis on momentum going into the regular season finale'.


Beilein and the players addressed Herber's award from ESPN the Magazine, naming him the Academic All-American of the Year for men's basketball, as selected by the College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA).

"He is a one-in-a-million kid in terms of what he was able to do," Beilein said. "He is very unique. If you have players like that, it keeps the coach employed as well."

Said Pittsnogle: "Sometimes we'll joke with Jo, like he might get a 3.9 next semester. He does all the little things. When he is not on the floor it hurts us a lot."

Herber seems to be handling the attention well. He has, after all been an awards magnate of late.

"It makes me proud when I think of all the Division I players, but some might not take academics as seriously," he said. "I don't know if you can translate academic success to basketball success. It is a different type of thinking. It probably comes easier because I like to read and I tend to pick things up."

But doing it in a second language?

"Well, I haven't done it in my first language yet," he said, noting that high school in Germany is comparable to college in the United States.

Herber was homesick after his first two years, and he says that he will return to Europe after this season unless the NBA unexpectedly shows interest. His goals are to play professionally there, perhaps in the Spanish league, considered the best on the continent.

"And that's my minor, so maybe I can use it," Herber said. "I did sense this team coming together, and that helped me stay. The coach had a lot to do with it and the prospect of being with the guys. I just stopped comparing things to home and just accepted them as they are."

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