Road Tests

West Virginia heads for Notre Dame this week on the first leg of a trip that will see the Mountaineers on the road for four of their next five contests.

"We can't play afraid to lose on the road, but you have to be a bit more conservative with your game and a bit more selective in what you do," head coach John Beilein said as he looked ahead to the grueling stretch of games over the next two weeks. "Being at home is an advantage. Is it one point, or ten, or twenty, who knows? But it is an advantage. We'd like to play a shorter game on the road."

Of course, Beilein can't force the NCAA to play a twenty minute game, but he can "shorten the game" by continuing to do what West Virginia has done well in their 11 wins, and also in several of their losses this year. The Mountaineers have forced opponents to play defense for long stretches, and often eat up twenty or thirty seconds of clock time before getting off a shot.

That patience leads to fewer possessions for opponents, and to a "shorter" game.

"I think we are starting to understand how we score and how we defend," Beilein said of his team's progress. "We're doing those things more cohesively as a team. It's not that we were bad at them before - we're just improving. We've still gotta be one of the youngest teams in the country."


Beilein knows that the Irish will be a tough test, and notes some similarities between Notre Dame and the Mountaineers.

"Notre Dame is young in spots, but they've won enough over the year. They play a little bit the way we like to play - they may have four guard types out there at times. Put those players out there on the perimeter with unselfish players inside, and it makes for a good team.

"They are one of the premier teams in the country, and we'll have to play our best and maybe catch them on a little bit of an off night to have a chance."

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WVU took the day off on Sunday, and will resume practice today. The Mountaineers will have a mid-morning shootaround at the Joyce Center on Wednesday.

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The Mountaineers haven't discovered any secret formula in snapping a three game losing streak with two straight wins.

"We haven't done much different in the wins (over Marshall and Rutgers) than we did in the losses (Georgetown, Pitt and Boston College)," Beilein noted. "We haven't discovered anything that's monumental at this point. It's as much who we played and where we played them. If we had played BC or Georgetown at home, we might have won."

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After seeing almost everything go right against Rutgers, how will the team respond when things get tough against the Irish? As usual, Beilein plans to accentuate the positive.

"If we hit a rough stretch, we'll remind them why things went well," Beilein said. "We like to feed off the successes. We don't emphasize the failures. We'll talk more about what we did right."

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