Team Ball, Steele!

At one point during the hoops movie "One on One", Henry Steele (played by Robby Benson) is exhorted by coach Moreland Smith (G. D. Spradlin) to play team oriented basketball.

Although that movie would hardly serve as a primer for basketball instruction, that line -- "Team ball, Steele!" -- keeps popping up as one watches this year's WVU men's basketball team.

Examples of unselfishness are all over the court, and are quickly becoming the norm, rather than the exception, in the Coliseum.

There's Jarmon Durisseau-Collins out in front of the field, but instead of shooting, dishing the ball to an open Drew Schifino for a three pointer. Over here is Joe "Mr. Fundamental" Herber, ball faking defenders out of their sneaks before distributing one of his six assists against Rutgers. There's Tyrone Sally passing up a good shot from about 18 feet to hit Herber at the top of the key, who is just a little bit more open. We could go on, but you should get the point. These guys are playing Team Ball! Coach Smith would be proud.

Of course, Coach Beilein is proud too.

"We made unselfish plays in transition and in the halfcourt offense. Every coach preaches unselfishness, but these guys are doing it."

When you can get your coach to admit you are unselfish, you've acocmplished something.

Perhaps the most telling of these examples happened at the end of the Rutgers game. Drew Schifino was only two points away from setting a new career scoring high for himself, and when WVU got the ball back with 30 seconds left, it seemed like he'd have one good chance left against the shaky Scarlet Knight defense. Rather than go for the hoop, Schifino calmly stood near the midcourt line and dribbled the clock out. That shows the sense of maturity and, dare we say, "Team Ball!" that personifies this year's Mountaineer squad.

There are many other examples of this. Chaz Briggs and Josh Yeager could have caused major problems for this team had they raised a stink about their decreased playing time. And while they aren't happy about playing less, they haven't done that, and instead have made solid contributions to WVU's 11 wins so far. Tyrone Sally could have sulked about having some of his anticipated scoring taken over by the gorup of precocious freshmen, but that hasn't happened either. Sally has worked hard to improve his defense and is becoming a force on both ends of the court.

Of course, it's not going to be all roses for this squad. A grueling four game stretch of games against Notre Dame, Villanova, Syracuse and Pitt are up next, and those teams are a combined 56-12 at the moment.

Whatever the outcome of these games, though, it figures that West Virginia will continue to display the unselfish and disciplined play that they've worked so hard to establish this year. And if a couple of breaks go the Mountaineers way, they just might continue to surprise more Big East foes.


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