2005 West Virginia Mountaineers Basketball Preview
2005 West Virginia Mountaineers Team Preview
The Mountaineers of West Virginia were the surprise team last year, but not in the Big East where they finished 8 and 8. Rather, they startled everyone by knocking off Creighton, Wake Forest, and Texas Tech in the big tournament before they lost in overtime to Rick Pitinio’s Louisville squad. They had made it to the Elite Eight! Can they do it again?
West Virginia coach John Beilein, now entering his fourth year with the team, has a 3-year record of 55-40. He also has about 75% of last year’s team back, which should prove to be helpful. Of the five starters for the 2005-06 season, four are seniors and the fifth is a junior. Their experience will be extremely helpful during a long season and when the pressure is on.
Senior center Kevin Pittsnogle, 6’ 11” and 250 pounds, is the central cog in this team. Pittsnogle, who shot 84.6% from the penalty line, can hit from anywhere on the court; but this season it’s essential that he display some maturity by toughing it out, keeping his focus, and playing consistently.
Swingman Mike Gansey, another senior, proved his worth during March Madness. Of all returning Mountaineers, he led the team in field goal percentage (49.8%), rebounds (5.1 RPG) and points (12.0 PPG). The guy is one of the best all-around players in the country, ably driving for dunks, shooting from outside, passing and dishing off, and grabbing it as it comes off the glass.
But the geographic area of the court this team excels from is 3-point land. Gansey, Pittsnogle, Johannes Herber at guard, and Patrick Beilein also at guard can all snipe with astounding accuracy from downtown.
Inside, off the boards is where this team is lacking. Transfer Rob Summers, a 7-foot center from Penn State, did not play for the Nitany Lions last season. The junior could be a factor in the frontcourt for his new team if he can stay injury free and effectively use his 240-pound body to get position, intimidate, and bang the ball out to teammates.
West Virginia will probably enjoy a national ranking this year—at least at the beginning of the season. The thing is even if they finish in the middle of the pack in their conference, this year it won’t be a surprise if they fight their way to the Elite Eight again or beyond.
For more info on the 2005 Mountaineers check out the official West Virginia athletic site.