MORGANTOWN — Today, class, we offer a pop quiz.
Q - Playing against the University of Connecticut’s women’s basketball team can best be likened to:
a. Walking barefoot across a bed of red hot coals
b. Eating a plate of broken glass
c. Swimming across a river filled with piranhas
d. Walking through a burning building wearing a gasoline suit
The correct answer, of course, is e. all of the above.
And then some.
The last time the unbeaten and No. 1 ranked Huskies lost, Sen. Robert C. Byrd was still in diapers, or so it seems.
They have won 60 in a row and on , a talented and game but overmatched West Virginia women’s basketball team goes on the road to face them. Carrying a 20-2 record and a No. 11 AP ranking means nothing for the Mountaineers would be at least a 25-point underdog if a spread were put on the game, perhaps even more.
Among their victories this year, Connecticut owns a 12-point triumph over No. 2 Stanford and a 24-point win over No. 3 Notre Dame, which beat WVU last week, 74-66.
Mike Carey knows what he’s facing and he doesn’t want to build this game up into something it isn’t … which is a winnable game.
“A lot of great teams have gone in there and gotten beat,” Carey acknowledged. “I don’t want a moral victory. If we don’t win, we’re not done.”
The question with playing Connecticut, especially at home, is what is a moral victory?
See, that 60-game winning streak we mentioned earlier, well, every one of those wins was by double-figure margins.
So, lose by nine, is it a moral victory? Lose by 15, is it a moral victory?
By any standard, UConn is a great team with a great coach in Geno Auriemma and great players.
“They beat you with defense, hustle and Maya Moore,” Carey said, then suddenly realizing there is even more than that to it.
“And Tina Charles is not bad,” he added.
No, she and her more than 2,000 career points are not bad. Against Pitt on Saturday, Charles scored 24, had eight rebounds, three blocks and three assists.
And that really is nothing more than just another day at the office.
UConn, though, is more than just Moore and Charles. Like so many great teams, the Huskies are striving for perfection, for the day they pitch a shutout, the day they make every shot they take.
"They are a beautiful team to watch," Pitt coach Agnus Berenato said after UConn took her Panthers apart, 98-56.
That’s the way it is with Connecticut. The Huskies have reached the point where teams come into their building, be it on campus in Storrs or in Hartford, where WVU will play, and, instead being upset with losing, they leave marveling at what they have just seen.
It almost like a visitor leaving the Louvre after viewing the Mona Lisa.
"It's fabulous shot selection," Berenato said. "They don't take bad shots, they don't take contested shots. They know their roles."
But if they are as artistic as Da Vinci, they are a Da Vinci with a killer instinct.
“They play hard, and when they get you down by 20, they keep after it. You don’t surprise them and they don’t lay down,” Carey said.
Like Carey, his players know they are about to meet up with greatness, but they are young and still susceptible to flights of fancy.
“We don’t think any task is impossible,” point guard Sarah Miles said. “We are going in there to win. We’ll go in with our heads high and play basketball.”
And Liz Repella, the team’s leading scorer, she claims not to be going in with stars in her eyes.
“We approach it like any other game,” said Liz Repella, the Mountaineers’ leading scorer. “They’re girls, too, not super humans.”
Perhaps it is best not to lose sight that WVU is a young team, a growing team without a senior, a team that figures to improve from game to game and from this season to next season.
If it isn’t UConn’s dream team, it is a team with a dream and that is what really challenges it on Tuesday, expressed by guard Vanessa House after scoring a career high 17 points against Louisville on Saturday.
“If you want to be the top team, you have to beat the top team.”
E-mail Bob Hertzel at firstname.lastname@example.org.
MORGANTOWN — Today, class, we offer a pop quiz.
- Bob Herzel
Luck announces Holgorsen will be retained for 2014
West Virginia athletic director Oliver Luck put an end to the speculation about the future of head football coach Dana Holgorsen on Tuesday, announcing that he and his staff would be retained for 2014 despite a second consecutive disappointing season.
HERTZEL COLUMN: Like it or not, Holgorsen is coming back
Like it or not, it appears that Dana Holgorsen and his staff will be back to coach the West Virginia football team next year, looking down the throat of an angry Alabama football team to open the season.
WVU women overwhelm Coppin State
West Virginia’s women’s basketball team, ignited by Christal Caldwell and Taylor Palmer, turned on the juice after a lackadaisical first half and scored 56 second-half points to bury a game against an overmatched Coppin State team. The 88-56 win gave coach Mike Carey his 250th victory as Mountaineer coach.
Mountaineers make quick work of Greyhounds
A day before West Virginia was to play what seemed to be a dangerous Loyola of Maryland basketball team at the Coliseum, coach Bob Huggins talked for some time in depth about shortcomings his team had been displaying and about how they would have to overcome them to become a good team.
HERTZEL COLUMN- Huggins’ 729th win puts him in elite company
There probably was a time in the middle of last season when Bob Huggins wondered if this day ever would arrive, almost as the thought crossed his mind as he lay in the Pittsburgh airport suffering a heart attack that would have killed a less cantankerous man.
West Virginia women set to host Coppin State
They met in middle school in Norfolk, Va., two young girls with a love for basketball and desire for it to lead them somewhere.
West Virginia not overlooking Loyola ahead of tough schedule
West Virginia plays one of those trap games that come along every so often in a college basketball season when Loyola of Maryland comes to the WVU Coliseum at 7 p.m. today.
Mountaineers wrap up abysmal season
Mercifully, West Virginia’s football season has come to an end.
The record was 4-8.
HERTZEL COLUMN- Henderson needs to be healthy for WVU’s success
He is, in his own way, the forgotten man in the mix for West Virginia this season.
WVU drops final game of season to Iowa State in triple OT
Iowa State, ranked 97th in the nation in scoring, came from 31-7 down with a furious fourth-quarter comeback Saturday and laid 52 points on West Virginia University in winning, 52-44, in triple overtime.
- More Bob Herzel Headlines
- Luck announces Holgorsen will be retained for 2014