MORGANTOWN -- In some ways, finding the right combination of players for a successful season this year will be harder than it was in John Beilein's first season as West Virginia's basketball coach.
With just eight scholarship players, he didn't have the luxury of mixing and matching players. He basically worked with what he had.
Now, with four new freshmen and transfer D'or Fischer added to five returning starters and two more lettermen, Beilein's first order of business is to find out who can do what.
"We've spent the first week of practice evaluating the new guys," Beilein said. "And we'll probably spend a good deal more time on doing that.
"We're still in the exploratory stage in a lot of areas."
Beilein, who guided WVU to a 14-15 mark in his first season, believes at least two of the four freshmen will probably see significant playing time.
The most likely of the four is six-foot point guard Tyler Relph, who was Mr. Basketball in the state of New York last season.
"Tyler is doing a nice job so far," Beilein said. "But Jarmon (Collins) and Nick (Paletta) are going to fight him for playing time.
"We're going to play whoever runs the offense the best, not the most heralded guy or a freshman or sophomore or whatever."
Beilein said he's giving both centers, 6-10 Kevin Pittsnogle and 6-11 Fischer, time at the four spot (power forward) so he can play them both at the same time.
"If one of them or both of them can do it, it will give us more flexibility," Beilein said. "Will we do it for 40 minutes? No way. That will depend on who we're playing.
"But we're trying to find ways to get our five best guys on the floor for a majority of the time."
Beilein said having two big men who can both shoot three-pointers is a rarity.
"Yes, they both hit 3s with regularity in practice," Beilein said. "We know Kevin can do it in games and Fischer did it at Northwestern State.
"Now whether he (Fischer) can do it when the lights come on, we'll have to wait and see."
Beilein said scrimmaging is tough right now because of the inexperience of the newcomers.
"We have our guys from last year who know exactly what to do and we have our new guys not sure," he said. "Our new guys are experiencing paralysis by analysis.
"They're still thinking what they have to do and it slows things down."
Beilein and the Mountaineers will continue preparations for the upcoming season, which begins Nov. 24 at James Madison.
Sports writer Greg Talkington can be reached at 626-1444 or by e-mail at email@example.com