Big East: Climb Ev'ry Mountain

By - October 25, 2006

It's been a whirlwind couple of years in Morgantown, what with West Virginia making deadly serious challenges for the last two national championships. Two years ago, the Mountaineers came this close to taking down Louisville in the Elite Eight. Last year, John Beilein’s club advanced to the Sweet 16 before bowing to Texas at the buzzer.

But with the Perfect Storm class of Mike Gansey, Kevin Pittsnogle, J.D. Collins, Joe Herber and Patrick Beilein having graduated, the Mountaineers return just two players who averaged more than four minutes a game.

“Here we have a team that’s picked 12th,” Beilein said to a throng of about a dozen writers. “Four years ago, we came in here and I think we talked to one or two reporters the entire time that we were here.”

West Virginia’s lone returning starter is Frank Young, a 6-foot-7 swingman who averaged 7.4 points and 3.5 rebounds.

“I point to this guy all the time,” said Beilein, nodding toward Young. “He came in with probably the least acclaim of the other three or four [freshmen], and he’s the one that’s the senior right now, the captain of the team who has played in big games and has been a big reason why we win. He was the most patient of all the freshmen. None of those other freshmen are still at West Virginia — he’s the only one playing big-time basketball right now.”

Even though a third consecutive NCAA tournament appearance would seem a considerable longshot, don’t feel sorry for Beilein. The West Virginia coach lives for this stuff.

“This is what I enjoy most about coaching, actually,” Beilein said. “I really like the process more than I like the results. And we’re in the process now!”

Posted by at 02:46 PM on October 25, 2006

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