Impressive Impressions

We've seen and heard what West Virginia head coach John Beilein thinks of his team. What do the opponents have to say about the Mountaineers?

There was Villanova head coach Jay Wright standing at the podium following West Virginia's 67-56 win over his Wildcats. He patiently waited for the assembled press to take their seats, and while doing so glanced over the stat sheet. Wiping the sweat from his brow, he looked up and began his comments with what was really the only thing he could say.

"Boy, they're a good team," said Wright, who is in his sixth year at the Philadelphia school. "When you have a game like this sometimes you tend to concentrate on all of the mistakes that your team made, but you've got to give the team that forced those mistakes a lot of credit. I just think that they are, at this point in the season for a young team, really cohesive. They're just so long and even more athletic then last year's team defensively. A lot of the shots that we got in the first half were contested so well that we missed them, and I just give them credit for it."

After forty minutes in which his team fell behind by more than 20 points, clawed back to within four, and then fizzled like a freshly-opened soft drink, Wright could have easily given the old 'we fought hard, but ran out of time' song and dance. He certainly wouldn't have been the first coach to credit his team's heart and hustle, but say little more than a token 'they played hard, and they are well coached' comment about the opposition. He could have complained about the officiating. Heck, he could have taken a page out of Jim Calhoun's book and turned it into a verbal sparring session between himself and the reporters sitting in front of him.

Instead, he gave his honest assessment.

"I don't think that we're a bad team, but we looked bad tonight," he admitted. "I think a really good team made a good team look bad tonight."

Wright's senior leaders, forward Curtis Sumpter and guard Mike Nardi, likewise had nothing but praise for the Mountaineers.

"They're a tremendous team," said Nardi. "They do a great job of playing together and feeding off of each other on both the offensive and defensive ends. They're going to be a great team in the Big East."

"They play that 1-3-1 really well," added Sumpter, who finished with 21 points and seven boards. "They got some turnovers on us when we were trying to beat it. They played very well on the offensive end as well."

The Wildcats were also very complementary of West Virginia forward Frank Young, who finished with a game and career-high 25 points on Wednesday night.

"He's had a lot of great players in front of him at West Virginia," said Nardi, who was plagued by fouls and finished the game just 3-14 from the field. "I actually played with him in an all-star game before we came to college. He got here and wasn't playing a whole lot early, but now you can see what type of player he is when he's the man. He can definitely shoot the ball and has a high release."

"He's tough," noted Wright. "He's really developed into a hell of a player. He's actually hit some big shots against us before, so we weren't that surprised. He had a good game against us last year and hit some big shots. I like him. I like him a lot."

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