Blast From The Past

When West Virginia and DePaul exchange pleasantries at mid-court prior to Sunday's game, Mountaineer head coach John Beilein may get a sense of deja vu.

During Beilein's five-year stint at Richmond, the Spiders had several memorable games against Colonial Athletic Association foe UNC-Wilmington. At that time, the Seahawks were led by Jerry Wainwright, the same man who will lead DePaul into the Coliseum tomorrow afternoon.

The irony doesn't end there, however. When Beilein left Richmond after the 2001-02 season for West Virginia, it was Wainwright who was selected as his replacement. In fact, the Richmond administration asked Beilein for his opinion on Wainwright prior to hiring him.

"When they asked me what I thought, I thought that it was just an excellent selection," Beilein recalled. "We had been competing against each other in the same league, the CAA. We had terrific games against each other."

Though he had moved on to Morgantown, Beilein certainly did not leave the Spider program in bad shape. The school was coming off of two consecutive NIT appearances, and Wainwright would continue the success that Beilein had started in Virginia's state capital.

"He went to the NIT and NCAA with the guys that were there," Beilein said. "He brought a tremendous defensive effort to them. They had two great years right after we left. We didn't leave the cupboard bare, and he new what to do with it when he got there."

Wainwright was only at Richmond for three years before jumping on the opportunity to coach DePaul in his native Chicago. In his first season at DePaul, the Blue Demons finished 13-18, which included an impressive road victory at Wake Forest. This season, Wainwright's team is 12-9 (3-4 in the Big East).

Though the record may not be equal to that of upcoming opponents Pitt or UCLA, Beilein is very wary of Sunday's foe.

"DePaul is as talented of a team as there is in the league," he said. "They are as well-coached as anybody in the league, and they've played probably the toughest schedule so far of anybody in the league."

He's certainly right about the latter part. DePaul's non-conference slate includes a loss to Kentucky, a win over Kansas, a win at California, and a win over Wake Forest. Entering Sunday's game, the Blue Demons have lost two straight contests in the Big East.

Still, Beilein expects that his team will have to play sound in all phases of the game in order to come away with the fifth conference win of the season.

"We need to play with confidence, obviously, the way that we did against Marshall," he said. "We need to shoot the ball well, like we usually have when we've won. We need to continue to improve our defense, whether it's zone or man. We're really putting a lot of priority on our defense."

RIFLE REPORTS

  • The Blue Demons have won league road games this season at Villanova and at Rutgers.

  • This will be the first meeting between West Virginia and DePaul as members of the Big East Conference. With Sunday's game, the Mountaineers will now have played a conference game against every team in the "new" Big East.

    The Mountaineers and Blue Demons have only played once before. During the 1945 National Invitation Tournament, Rey Meyer's Blue Demons got the best of WVU by a final of 76-52. NBA Hall of Famer George Mikan led five DePaul players in double figures with a game-high 33 points. Meyer's team would go on to win the NIT that year, thereby winning the national championship.


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