Quick Turnaround

With a short turnaround before facing UMass on Thursday evening, West Virginia head coach John Beilein was in a hurry on Wednesday.

Not that Beilein was ungracious during a short teleconference with the media on Wednesday. It's just that he and his team have limited time to prepare for the Minutemen, who are already in Morgantown for Thursday night's game. And while film study and a practice session consumed some time, getting his players off their feet and resting as much as possible are also major concerns for the Mountaineers.

Of course, WVU has it better than the visitors, who played a later overtime game on Tuesday, then caught a late flight to West Virginia for the contest. Still, at this point in the season, every moment of rest might be as valuable as those devoted to film study or on-court practice.

After breaking down several UMass games, Beilein thinks they compare favorable to Arkansas, a team which defeated WVU earlier this year.

"Arkansas would be a good comparison," he noted. "They are a very similar team. In terms of size and play. "UMass is a talented team coming off a great win. Watching [them], it's easy to see how they have won 23 (actually 24) games."

"They have one of the best shot blockers in the world, or at least in college basketball," said Beilein, referring to Stephane Lasme, who has 156 rejections on the season. "They average 40 rebounds per game, and they have very athletic players all over the place. They have a couple of guys who are great shooters, and a lot of guys who are fifth year players. They are really an older and wiser team."

Beilein noted that WVU can't let Lasme affect his team and the way it plays, especially on drives to the basket.

"The thing we have to be careful of is that he will block shots no matter what. But when he starts to do that and suddenly no one wants to take it in there anymore, [that is a problem]. A blocked shot doesn't mean the end of the world, but we have to convince our guys of that. Blocking a shot is effective, but it becomes more effective if you let it bother you. Like a backdoor bothers you, or hitting a three or getting dunked on. It's two or three points, but its not 50 points."


Beilein refused to be drawn into any discussion of Luke Bonner who transferred to UMass after a season at West Virginia.

"We had that when we played against St. Bonaventure," Beilein said dismissively when questioned about facing his former player. "Once a player decides to part with the program, we wish him well."

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