Week Off Allows Self-Study Time

Like any good students, John Beilein and his Mountaineer basketball team used some extra time off this week to improve their fundamentals.

"It's great to have a week off, but you don't know if it will show up on Saturday or not," Beilein said of the team's break before facing Syracuse this weekend. "We were able to concentrate on ourselves, which is good for us. Anytime you have some extra time, you can go back and focus on yourselves. We are trying to get back to some fundamentals of the game."

While Beilein doesn't ignore preparation for opponents, he has maintained the long view of improving his team and working on their fundamentals and execution. That strategy won't change as the Mountaineers make the turn in conference play next week and begin their drive for a Big East tournament berth.

As for Syracuse, Beilein notes they are the type of team that causes problems for opponents on defense.

"They are so long, and they can be physical, but they are athletic. You think you're not guarded, and all of a sudden they are on you. They have mixed up their defenses the past few games and played both man to man and some zone."

Beilein also notes that Syracuse's pet 2-3 zone can be difficult to prepare for because the Orangemen play it somewhat differently than the standard 2-3.

"It's a bit unusual, because it's more of a gap zone that was played before the three point shot," Beilein said. "They defend you from different angles. That's something like our 1-3-1, which comes at you from angles you may not be used to. When you are not used to playing against it, it makes it more difficult. They get nine steals per game without pressing, so that tells you something about their defense.

"The other thing is that they rebound well out of it. You don't get very many second chances against them."

WVU faces the Orangemen Saturday in front of what is expected to be a sellout crowd at the WVU Coliseum.

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