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Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Beilein pleased with vets, freshmen

MORGANTOWN — Coach John Beilein seems content with the way the West Virginia University men’s basketball team is shaping after only four practice sessions.

“I’m pleased with the veterans and how much they remembered as far as technique and detail,” he said Tuesday. “Most of them have been doing that for four years.

“What has been really positive is that the two freshmen on scholarship have really picked up much quicker than I expected. It’s probably as good as anyone else ever picked up what we’re doing.”

The rookies, joining seven holdovers, are 6-foot-7 Joe Alexander and 6-6 Alex Ruoff. Both are listed on the roster as guards.

“We haven’t scrimmaged a whole lot,” said Beilein, in his fourth year here. “We’ll scrimmage a little bit Wednesday.

“But I’ve been pleased with how the freshmen look.”

The veteran coach said most of the veterans have shown great improvement since WVU advanced to the NCAA tournament’s Elite Eight last March to finish with at 24-11.

“I’d say right now showing the most improvement would be J.D. (Collins) and Patrick (Beilein),” he said.

“But Mike Gansey has been terrific. So have Joe Herber and Kevin Pittsnogle. All of them are doing pretty well.

“Frank Young is finally healthy. So we haven’t been able to measure him.”

WVU must prepare for a Nov. 7 exhibition game against Wheeling Jesuit, where Beilein played his college basketball.

But he won’t rush the shorter-than-usual preseason practice period.

“We’ve got to be very careful with the team from the standpoint that we are only 10 deep,” Beilein said. “How much can we run?

“There will be times when we have to run. But there will be times where we could run ourselves right out of the season, too.

“So sometimes we’re going to want to play a game, and sometimes we might be outmanned and want to shorten the game.”

Asked what is the hardest part about learning his unique offense, Beilein said:

“The combination being patient and looking for opportunities and, at the same time, not letting an opportunity go by.

“We say take 50-50 shots, don’t make 50-50 plays. So, as a result, sometimes they’re trying to understand what is a 50-50 shot.

“In high school it may be a very different 50-50 shot. The guys (at this level) are much quicker, much taller and the play as well.”

He explained that a certain pass play used to work 80 percent of the time in high school. But at this level with WVU guards J.D. Collins or Darris Nichols in the way, each is going to get his hands out.

The freshmen already have learned that, though. And that’s what is surprising to Beilein.

With five solid seniors, he’s detecting a veteran type approach by the upperclassmen this season.

“I hope they keep that up,” he said. “This is the first time that we have had that kind of leadership up to this point.

“It’s the best leadership I’ve seen so far. What we do offensively and defensively allows them to have a better feel for what to expect.”

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