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Beilein has no regrets at head of Mountaineers

By Greg Talkington

SPORTS WRITER

Second-year West Virginia basketball coach John Beilein said he has no regrets about taking over the Mountaineer program.

Beilein has been successful everywhere he's coached at a variety of levels. His ability to get the Mountaineers to play to their potential most of the time last season intrigued many WVU fans.

"I am so happy I decided to take on this challenge because the people of West Virginia have been great to me, my staff and my family," Beilein said. "I feel so much better about a lot of things.

"That being said, we're looking forward to next year."

While Beilien expects on-court improvement, he cautioned that it might not show up on the scoreboard.

"We won a lot of close games and we lost a lot of close games," he said. "The product will be better. I just don't know how that will play out in wins and losses.

"But I still think we're a couple years from seeing the true product."

One addition to his coaching staff will definitely be of benefit, he said.

Former Penn State head coach Jerry Dunn recently joined Beilein's staff.

"Not only is he a great coach that is well known around the country, he's known all over the world," Beilein said. "He did a great job at Penn State and we're so pleased, Jeff (Neubauer), Matt (Brown) and I, to have an opportunity to sit side by side with Jerry.

"He's a real special coach and a terrific person."

Some other observations:

On the possible Big East defections of Miami, Syracuse and Boston College; Beilein called it "intriguing, sort of like a soap opera."

But like many, he's growing weary of the situation.

"There are so many different things involved and I watch it with a great deal of curiosity for my own knowledge and experience," he said. "But I'd just assume to get it over with whatever's going to happen and move on.

"I think we're all tired of it."

On Kevin Pittsnogle switching to the four position to allow 6-11, 240-pound shot-blocking specialist D'or Fischer, who sat out last season after transferring, to play center; "We're going to play the five best guys together.

"It's tough to have two big guys out there at the same time because opposing teams can go small on you and it's tough to guard them on the perimeter because they can kill you with 3-pointers."

Still, he said it's not out of the question.

"We're going to try a lot of different combinations, no doubt. We know D'or will have to play a great deal and we think at least two of the four freshman coming in will have to play a lot too.

"Playing time will be very interesting this season."

Sports writer Greg Talkington can be reached at 626-1444 or by e-mail at gtalkington@exponent-telegram.com