Film Appreciation

After dropping just their second game of the season on Tuesday night, the Mountaineers will travel to Milwaukee on Saturday to take on Tom Crean's Golden Eagles.

Before they can worry about Saturday's game, though, the Mountaineers will spend some time learning from their mistakes against Notre Dame. Head coach John Beilein seemingly watches more film than a Hollywood movie critic, and after viewing the initial cut from Tuesday's loss to the Irish, Beilein led his players through a film trilogy on Thursday afternoon and evening.

"We have the film session broken down into three sessions: the things that we know better than, the things that need instruction, and the good things," explained West Virginia's fifth-year head coach. "The good things are a very small session today. The other two will take up most of the tape."

While the performance in South Bend isn't bound to be up for any major awards anytime soon, Beilein wants his team to understand that what they see when watching all three cuts will be invaluable for them down the road.

"We made a lot of mistakes that are very typical of a team at this point in the season, on the road, and with our lack of tremendous experience," he said. "This tape session, I told the guys, will be one of the most important sessions of the year. We have a lot of important (tape sessions), but this one is really important not only for how they'll deal with it, but how I will instruct it. It's got to be a thing that we understand is a positive thing, and that we're better than this. We'll make adjustments."

Ever the glass half-full optimist, Beilein sounded almost giddy about some of the things he was able to pick out on the film and show to his young team. That's not to say that he was happy about losing. No coach likes to lose. Beilein, though, takes every loss with a grain of salt and uses it as a learning opportunity for his team. That was apparent as he spoke with reporters on Thursday afternoon.

"This was one of those games that there are so many things we can learn from like playing at a little bit of a higher level, and just being patient at times too," he said. "I think that we need to speed some things up, and slow some things down. I don't want to talk too directly about what it is, but we have a good group."

In addition to learning about the X's and O's, Beilein's youngsters can also learn about some of the intangibles that it takes to play with composure on the road.

"I won't say that we panicked the other day," said Beilein. "I thought that we lost some confidence at times, which got us in that hole. Now, we did comeback, and that was good to comeback, but I would prefer that we not have to comeback. I think that we're expecting too much though if we expect to go into Notre Dame and play like a bunch of hard, seasoned, grizzled vets."

After not losing for more than a month, the Mountaineers finally dropped their second game of the season. With a 13-2 record and plenty of games left, Beilein is still taking a calm approach to the remainder of the season.

"I feel the same," he said. "I feel the same way that I have all year long. I like coaching them, and I can't wait for practice tonight. This is what I do. I love to coach basketball, and I love teaching them what I know and see how they respond."

Prior to Thursday's film session with his team, Beilein had the chance to watch a sneak preview of Marquette. On Wednesday night, the Golden Eagles did what few teams ever do: beat Connecticut on their home court. Though their league record stands at just 1-2, Tom Crean's bunch left a big impression on Beilein with their win over the Huskies.

"I've watched the first half of the game," said the coach. "They forced UConn into eight turnovers in the first ten or twelve possessions. They got out early and controlled the tempo. (Sophomore point guard) Dominic James can certainly control the tempo if you let him."

Preparing for this season's Marquette team isn't unlike preparing for last year's Golden Eagles, save for the noticeable absence of forward Steve Novak (now with the Houston Rockets).

"They're very much the same team, even without Novak," Beilein noted. "They still have the ability to score points in a hurry. We'll really have trouble guarding them."

NOTE: The Mountaineers were set to practice on Thursday night, and again on Friday morning before flying to Milwaukee on Friday afternoon. Saturday's game will be broadcast nationally by ESPN at noon. It will be the final regular season game the Mountaineers play on the worldwide leader this season. West Virginia's late February contest at Pitt will be shown on ESPNU. The only other scheduled national broadcast will be when the Mountaineers take on UCLA on February 10. That game will be shown nationally on CBS.

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