Road Rules

Head basketball coach John Beilein believes that a team has to go on the road in order to prepare for the conference season.

"We wanted to go on the road," Beilein said of Saturday's matchup in St. Louis with the Billikens. "We felt that we had enough home games. We wanted to get a game with someone from a top conference. We also looked at Colorado State, but this should be a good trip.

"We're still trying to gauge how much the travel last week affected us. We were all groggy when we got home from Las Vegas, but I don't think it will be a factor for this game. It was good that we could come home in between [the Las Vegas trip and the St. Louis journey]. Everyone likes to be at home."

St. Louis has a game this evening with Kansas State, while WVU has been off since December 29th. The yin and yang of a long layoff providing rest vs. rust is a concern, but Beilein prefers being the team with the longer downtime.

"For me, it can be a tremendous advantage to have more time to prepare your team. You might mess them up by preparing too much, but we do a lot of preparation.

"It's an afternoon game, so that might be tough for them. I've been in that position many many times. It probably depends on your philosophy on how you do your preparation as to whether you think it's an adavantage or not."

For Beilein, a meticulous coach who analyzes game film and prepares his players in great detail, the extra time is obviously a situation that he views as a positive.

MUSKET BLASTS Beilien continues to be pleased with his team's attitude, focus and work habits in practice. The consistency of effort that each player has brought to the practice floor has been among his most pleasant surprises.

"You almost always have one or two guys that you never know what kind of effort you're going to get from in practice, but we haven't had that this year."

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Beilein believes that the game will be a low scoring affair, as both squads run patient offenses and emphsaize defense.

"Their looks are very similar to what Wisconsin runs," Beilein said of the Billiken offense. "It's called "blockers and movers", but the blockers can score too. They have four seniors and a bunch of juniors, they are a very experienced team. They've been playing together a long time."

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St. Louis will return this visit with a game at the Coliseum next year.

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Beilein is pleased with the play of his true freshmen, but cautions about the cumulative weight of increased playing and practice time that freshmen must battle.

"You always have that wall in January and February that freshmen hit. It's not just minutes played, but also the increased practice time. We try to watch for that, but I'm not sure if there is much you can do about it."

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