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Beilein finding ways to use Pittsnogle, Fischer

by Greg Talkington

SPORTS WRITER

MORGANTOWN -- West Virginia basketball coach John Beilein has been busy "tweaking" the Mountaineer offense in hopes of getting big men Kevin Pittsnogle and D'or Fischer on the floor at the same time.

He's hoping having them both in the game at the same time can solve some of the rebounding problems that plagued the team in Big East play last season.

"A lot of it will depend on Kevin's ability to defend on the perimeter," Beilein said Tuesday at WVU's annual media day. "If he can do that, then we'll be able to go with the two big men some of the time.

"A lot of it will also depend upon who we're playing and how we're playing."

Fischer, a 6-foot-11, 244-pound sophomore, has the athletic ability to play away from the basket.

"He can guard people on the perimeter," Beilein said. "But then you're taking him away from the basket, where he's most effective for our defense."

Fischer was one of the nation's top shot blockers two seasons ago at Northwestern State in Texas. Along with his 6-11 frame and long arms, Fischer possesses a 37-inch vertical leap.

Pittsnogle, a 6-10, 235-pound sophomore, played away from the basket during the summer on the U.S. Junior National Team in international competition.

"He did a lot of it this summer, so he's got a little experience with it," Beilein said. "The great thing about Kevin is that he's willing to learn and he's giving it his best shot."

n TO REDSHIRT, OR NOT TO REDSHIRT: Beilein said he's still contemplating redshirting freshmen Jerrah Young and B.J. Byerson

"We're going to wait and see how things go this next week or so," Beilein said. "It's not a bad thing, but when you've got kids playing in the NBA at 18, asking them to sit out a year doesn't seem like a good thing to them."

He does have a little help in convincing them.

"Both Drew Schifino and Tyrone Sally told me they wish they had been redshirted," Beilein said. "So it's good to have players here who can lend some advice in that matter."

Young is a 6-6, 210-pound forward from Chicago. Byerson is a 6-6, 250-pound power forward from Richmond.

Franklin Young, a 6-5, 210-pound small forward from Tallahassee, Fla., and 6-foot point guard Tyler Relph of Rochester, N.Y. will not be redshirted.

n NOT SET YET: Beilein said he hasn't decided on a starting lineup for this week's exhibition game with Northwest Sports, a touring team composed of former college players from the West Coast.

He did say it would come from the five starters of last season -- Schifino, Sally, Pittsnogle, Jo Herber and Jarmon Collins --and Fischer and Relph.

"Those guys are the top seven right now," he said. "Then we have guys fighting for the eight, nine and 10 spots."

Others on the roster are 6-5 sophomore Patrick Beilein, 6-0 sophomore Nick Patella, 6-2 junior Duriel Price and 6-5 senior John Curran. All four are walk-ons.

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