No Head Start

With a ten-day break between games, the natural assumption would be that head coach John Beilein has been getting a head start on preparations for North Carolina State, which his team meets in Charleston on Wednesday. However, Beilein won't begin prep work for the Wolfpack until today. So what have the Mountaineers been working on since sustaining their first loss of the season?

"We spent the last four days just shoring up many of our weaknesses and enhancing our strengths," said Beilein of his practice focus and primary goal since returning from WVU's strong showing at the Old Spice Classic. "The loss to Arkansas really showed us some of the things we have to emphasize in practice. You can't emphasize everything every day, but we saw some things that we have to be a little stronger with. There were 88 cuts in that [Arkansas] film, and we watched them over a period of three days. That has let us see where we are and what we have to do to get better."

The long break, which came part by happenstance and part by design, has allowed Beilein to refresh fundamental skills, work on corrections to the errors displayed on tape, and continue the process of molding his inexperienced team.

"When we were scrambling to put together our schedule -- and it always is a scramble -- we had a gap where we could have played a game this past Saturday," he explained. "We elected not to so we could get six days of practice in to get ourselves better. I don't know if that will be beneficial in getting a win over North Carolina State, but it will be beneficial for the long term."

That Beilein puts the emphasis on the long term certainly isn't a surprise. It's the same approach that has allowed him to build winners at every stop in his coaching career, as well as the process that resulted in Elite Eight and Sweet Sixteen appearances with a team that was initially derided as totally devoid of talent.

Thus, Beilein isn't marking this as a red-letter game on the schedule, or overemphasizing its importance. While he certainly will be well-prepared, and wants to win, it won't be the end of his team's development or the season if it comes up short.

"It's hard to stay the course on individual improvement when you have to focus on a game coming up, but we try to do that," explained Beilein. "A loss doesn't cost you your season, and you can't make one game too important. Last year we scheduled hard early to win games early and get in the NCAAs. This year is more about our improvement throughout the season."

Of course, that doesn't mean Beilein is writing this game off, or doesn't care about winning.

"We are looking forward to this game," he said. "This is the time of year when a lot of teams are stepping outside of their conferences and playing tough teams, and this is certainly one of them."

Beilein hasn't given N.C. State the total brushoff, however. He watched some of the Wolfpack's game against Virginia on Sunday, and has other game tapes under review.

"They have seven very talented players and very interchangeable parts," he said of his impressions of the Pack. "Sidney [Lowe] has done a great job of utilizing the players he was left with. Defensively they dig in and really guard you, and with those interchangeable players, they can [cause problems]. They pass like guards, but they have guys that are 6-9. They have a 6-7 player who plays the point."

WVU will have a shootaround in Charleston on Wednesday morning prior to the game, which begins at 7:00 p.m. Tickets are still available.

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