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March 12, 2005

John Beilein

Mike Gansey

Tyrone Sally


THE MODERATOR: Mike Gansey, Tyrone Sally, Coach John Beilein.

COACH JOHN BEILEIN: We congratulate Syracuse. They just played terrific in this whole tournament. They, in man-to-man right now, no matter what we try to do with them, they're just so quick with the ball that they just get into the scene so quickly we didn't have answers for some of that. We just don't get anything off the backboard with them either. They're a tremendous rebounding team. Our kids gave every bit of effort that they could, but we were going to have to have one of those games where instead of going 9-for-29 from three, we were going to have to go 15-for-29. Then it's a different ballgame. We didn't make those because we were guarded so well by Syracuse. That's a credit to their defense. So I got some great young men on this team that I'm so happy to look at them in the locker room, lose a tournament, a game like this, and know that we'll be playing again soon.


Q. Did the fact that Syracuse came at you so quickly, starting off both halves, did that sort of cause the team to lose its legs a little bit?

COACH JOHN BEILEIN: No, I don't think so. I mean, it could, but I mean, three games and four games, I think it's all a -- everybody's going to be hurting in those situations. It's hard to win four in a row because some days the ball just doesn't bounce your way. I think being three or four games, being tired is probably overrated; you're always tired. And they really didn't get any space on us until the last three minutes. We had a couple key turnovers, but, heck, we had seven turnovers in the game. They're a good basketball team, and we have to play almost a perfect game against them and shoot it like we did the last three nights.

Q. Did you discover something about yourselves in these four games that you might not have known you had before, the ability to take it to teams that were supposedly better than you, especially inside?

COACH JOHN BEILEIN: It gave some credence to what I believe in how you should play the game, but these guys certainly, you know, I think they discovered a lot, but you'll have to ask them. I mean, I've believed in them from the very beginning, even through some rough times this year. But they're a pretty special group.

Q. Coach, kind of trading basket to basket there. Last couple minutes in the first half they were pressing. They made a couple threes.

COACH JOHN BEILEIN: Yeah, I think we only had -- I don't know if we had a turnover in the second half. Maybe we had one or two. I think we had one turnover in the second half, two or three critical ones there. But, I mean, you can't -- they turn out to be critical - wait a minute, you have seven turnovers in a game. They upped the tempo there and made us play a little quicker than we wanted to. We just had a couple balls slip through our hands or made a couple bad decisions. Actually, both times it slipped through our hands, I think, and you can't fault our kids for that. That was a big difference in the game, but it's not -- they just have so many great athletes to rebound and just jump over us. We just had trouble in those areas.

Q. What happened with Kevin Pittsnogle, he has a game that slips in like this?

COACH JOHN BEILEIN: Well, Syracuse's 2-3 zone is so big, it's tough for a big -- let's face it, he scores a lot of his points on the perimeter. And so when you're in a zone, we try to put him on the perimeter, but it's different. When you're matching him up man-to-man, that's why we play him as a center and not as a forward. It's a little bit of why, when people want me to play two big guys, it sort of shows that it's harder to get him open on the perimeter when people are playing zone.

Q. Did they do something in the second half?

COACH JOHN BEILEIN: It's a little bit like our 1-3-1. You can't really key on getting the ball to one person, there's always going to be a mass of people around you. That's why it works so well. Did they say "okay," I think they shaded all our shooters very well. They did a great job of identifying who was there. But it's more of a team concept, nobody's going to get a good shot. They're not saying, "We're going to play this defense to stop Gansey or Pittsnogle," that's the defense they play and it's hard as hell to score against.

Q. Can you reflect on just a remarkable week of basketball for your team and getting to the first championship game in the history of the program, the big stage, New York City, Saturday night.

COACH JOHN BEILEIN: Yeah, four nights in Madison Square Garden. You know, if you look back at the loss at Seton Hall, which was -- there was a lot of tough road losses last week by a lot of very good teams, and we were one of them, that was a long week getting ready for that. We were so fortunate to beat Providence the first two times. I wasn't a relaxed man this week. So now to go into that, and all of a sudden see your team perform so well, yeah, I've been fortunate enough to have similar times in my life, but not four times on this stage. But these kids are going to remember this forever - for ever and ever, all the way from his shots last night to him, you know, being sick and then... But they're such a big part of our Providence win and our comeback today.

Q. About the 15-minute mark, you started going for the 1-3-1 half court. You cut the lead down to 9. Can you talk about that.

COACH JOHN BEILEIN: Yes. What we did, Jim is -- because they have what we call rim runners, it's very difficult to play the 1-3-1 against that, you're always worried about McNamara. We changed the slides on the 1-3-1 the second time, we just had a different slide involving different angles. It was enough to give us a little bit of an edge to get us going. So we were in it, out of it, in it, we were trying to throw the kitchen sink at them. Without a lot of prep time, it's tough to defend them.

Q. Talk about getting momentum on your side, the one shot, it looked like it got things in your direction.

MIKE GANSEY: I mean, I don't know, that zone is very, very hard to get shots again. Being on the perimeter, you got 6'9, 7' guys out there. It's kind of tough to drive a little bit in there. Even when you got an open shot, you got a guy running at you with a hand in your face. Just seemed like none of us really could get a shot, and then keep on getting consistent shots, making them. I think this was our problem today, we just couldn't hit a shot.

Q. What does this tournament do for the team?

MIKE GANSEY: I think it gives us a lot of confidence. We beat Boston College, we beat Villanova, Providence, down five with five minutes to go against Syracuse. Played four games in a row. Being the underdog every single game, winning three of them, I think it's a very, very big confidence-booster. I'm sure whoever we play in the NCAA tournament will be very, very maybe scared of us, because we're a dangerous team, I guess, now. Now I think everyone in the country knows that West Virginia is a pretty good basketball team.

Q. John, can you talk about this run.

COACH JOHN BEILEIN: You know what, one of the biggest questions that I get in the recruiting, and we have five seniors that -- two seniors on scholarship, two juniors on scholarship, this is a big year coming up. It really hit me a couple weeks ago when I was recruiting a kid, he said, "Coach, can you get West Virginia to the NCAA tournament," I responded very positive right away, "Yes, we can." But you have to do that. You can only say it so many times; you have to show that you can get it done. I've explained to these kids, that's going to be an incredible experience tomorrow for them to see where they're going. We're on spring break. I can't imagine a better way for them to spend a spring break with all the attention and the hoopla of being in the bracket of 65. So that's what I think it gives us right now, in some big recruiting years. Yes, whether the philosophy, the system, West Virginia University, yeah, they can win. And the more we win, the more that we're going to be able to be successful in recruiting.

Q. You talked about gaining respect with recruits. Can you talk about maybe gaining respect with basketball fans. This might be the first time that a lot of people saw you.

COACH JOHN BEILEIN: Yeah, we're not on that Big Monday very much, are we? That's okay. We sort of like that MO a little bit, that we're, you know, just underneath the radar screen a little bit. But if people like basketball, you know, I mean, not everybody plays this way. I don't think we -- you know, we didn't invent the game. We try to recruit certain kids that fit our style. I think that anybody that saw us would come away from this, not just be a fan of West Virginia basketball, but say, "Hey, there's a lot of different ways to drive a team and coach a team and have players play."

End of FastScripts...

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