No More, No Less

Head coach John Beilein disputes the notion that the Marshall game has more or less importance to him or his players as other games on the schedule. However, the veteran coach obviously can't say whether the game means more to Huntington school than its other contests.

"We don't take any game more seriously than any other game," said Beilein as he prepared for a Monday practice session that will be aimed at putting away the Cincinnati loss and getting ready for the Herd. "With this young team, whether it's Marshall or DePaul on Sunday, they are all important, and we look at them all the same. I can't speak for Marshall, but that's the way we view it. You can't put one game higher or lower than others."

The lingering perception by many, of course, is that the Herd certainly does put beating big brother as its number one priority each year. With umpteen years having passed since Marshall has even sniffed an NCAA or NIT bid, what else is left for it to play for?

Beilein, of course, doesn't voice an opinion on such matters, as he prefers, and almost always, comments solely on his own team and program. Other than routine praise for opponents, he's not going to share his views on such issues, if he even has them at all. While many coaches do sneak in barbs or shots at other schools on occasion, WVU's fifth-year head coach eschews such actions.

Beilein does, however, allow that there may some situations in which one game gets put above others, at least by certain segments of the West Virginia program.

"To our fans, maybe that's different," he said. "And if we get down to the last game of year, say in the NCAA or Big East tournaments, then those do get to be important."

Beilein also refused to be goaded by observations that his team had dropped three of the last five games.

"I've only been here for four of them, and we are 2-2. They have all been last second games. We could have won all four or lost all four."


Although he didn't come right out and admit it, the tone of Beilein's voice hinted that the Cincinnati loss might be a tougher one to bounce back from those previous setbacks.

"We are working hard to get over difficult and disappointing loss. That was a tough one for a young team and an old coach. Now we have a tremendously emotional game down in Charleston to get ready for. We will prepare and go down there and do our best."

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Beilein said he didn't see or pay attention to the embarrassing and childish actions of Cincinnati coach Mick Cronin at the conclusion of regulation time. Cronin charged halfway across the court and reportedly yelled obscenities at one official while being restrained by another.

"After the ball went out of bounds, my immediate attention went to regrouping our team," Beilein said. "My thought is to huddle up and regroup. I saw the coach to start to run out there, but then with the players getting in between and my thoughts turning to getting my team regrouped, I didn't [see anything else]. I will let the Big East take care of it."

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After leading the nation in fewest fouls committed a year ago, West Virginia hasn't been quite as disciplined in that category this year. Although WVU is still XXX in those stats, it has seen an uptick in fouls committed over the past few games. Cincinnati made a mind-boggling 41 trips to the free throw line on Saturday, and although a few of those trips were the result of more than questionable calls, there are still far too many sill infractions being committed.

"We want to play hard and play smart," Beilein said. "There are times when we are aggressive on the ball and end up reaching or grabbing, and not playing with our heads. I'd rather see that than be lazy, but it has really hurt us the past couple of games."

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Beilein is resigned to playing the Marshall game in the midst of the Big East season.

"This is my fifth year of doing this game, and I think now that we have added UCLA to the second half of the schedule, it's tough to [play it in Charleston at this time]. But I understand there are things with the Legislature that mandate it, and if that's what we have to do, then that's what we have to do."

* * *

West Virginia will travel to Charleston on Tuesday and have a workout at the Civic Center Coliseum before the game on Wednesday.

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