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Monday, October 24, 2005

Pittsnogle likes WVU’s tougher hoops schedule

MORGANTOWN — The West Virginia University men’s 2005-06 basketball schedule arguably is the toughest in school history.

But you won’t get a beef from 6-foot-11 senior center Kevin Pittsnogle or, for that matter, any of the other six veteran players.

“If you play well against the really good teams, it’s going to help your confidence, win or lose,” the Martinsburg native reasoned.

“Playing the likes of North Carolina State, LSU and Oklahoma will get us ready for the Big East games. The bigger the teams we play, the better we will be at the end of the regular season.

“We just need to concentrate on getting better as a team. We’re just trying right now to put the pieces back together. But the rust is coming off.”

The season is starting earlier than usual for the Mountaineers this year. They play Wheeling Jesuit College in an exhibition game here two weeks from tonight.

“Last year we played a lot of big games, and this year we do have a tougher schedule,” Pittsnogle said. “So every game is going to be big, regardless of who it’s against.”

He thinks it may take a little longer than expected to get ready for the official season’s opener. That will be in the two-day Guardians Classic Nov. 12-13 at the Coliseum.

Louisiana-Monroe will be WVU’s first opponent, with the Wofford-Fairleigh Dickinson winner the second day opponent.

Pittsnogle became a household name from coast to coast last March as he paced the Mountaineers to the NCAA tournament’s Elite Eight.

He’s one of the best three-point shooters in the Big East Conference. He was named to the league’s all-tournament team and also made the NCAA’s all-Albuquerque region team.

Despite starting only 17 games, Pittsnogle finished with averages of 11.9 scoring and 3.7 rebounding for the 35 games. He also had 21 steals and 16 blocked shots.

“Sure, we surprised some teams last year,” he said. “But some people think that was a fluke.

“This year it might be the same thing or it night be different. We do know the Big East is going to be tougher because of the expansion to 16 teams.

“It has to be the best conference in America today.”

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