The Times West Virginian

Bob Herzel

January 2, 2014

Lady Mountaineers open Big 12 play

MORGANTOWN — West Virginia University’s women’s basketball team begins its winter-long quest of the Big 12 championship at 8 p.m. today at Kansas.

Unlike a season ago, when WVU joined the Big 12, the Mountaineers come into the conference season brimming with confidence and feeling as if they can win the title.

Last season the championship was assumed to belong to Brittney Griner and her Baylor Bears and they did not disappoint, going through a second consecutive undefeated league season, finishing with only one blemish on their record and that coming in the national championship game.

While Baylor rode its star inside player, WVU had to go through the season without its, Asya Bussie suffering a knee injury in pre-season that sidelined her for the entire year, a disaster at the time but now a blessing for she is back at full strength to lead an experienced WVU team into the season.

“It’s wide open,” WVU coach Mike Carey said. “I think it’s tough. There’s a lot of teams who are the same kind of teams. Whoever can stay focused can win.”

What Carey is sure of is that there will be no dominant team.

“I don’t think anyone will go undefeated in this conference like Baylor did the last couple of years. That’s not going to happen,” Carey said. “I think you could have three, four, five losses and still have a great opportunity to win the conference this year.”

With it being wide open, Carey believes his team that comes in riding an 11-game winning streak after losing the opener to Ohio State has a strong chance to win the title.

“I think there are four or five teams who can win the conference … and I believe we’re one of them,” Carey said.

His players are of the same feeling.

“The past few years Baylor has separated itself from the rest of the teams, but this year it’s wide open,” senior center Asya Bussie said.

WVU did all it could to get itself ready for conference play, although the schedule could have been more difficult.

“I told the team the other day everyone needs to step it up now. It’s the second season,” Carey said. “I need to step it up. The coaches need to step it up; the players need to step it up.”

Kansas is a particularly difficult test for WVU to open against. First off, it’s on the road, as is the second game on Saturday at Oklahoma State, but playing on the road doesn’t normally bother WVU. Last season the Mountaineers were 7-5 on the road, including a 72-56 victory at Kansas.

That was no easy task, either, as the Jayhawks went to the Sweet 16 last season.

“I said it several times last year that I thought we were more focused on the road than we were at home,” Carey noted. “Hopefully we’ll continue to do that and be focused at home.”

Since then, though, they were hit hard by graduation, losing three starters, and are a different type team this year, going more to its big inside player Chelsea Gardner.

“They are looking to go into the 5 a little more than they did last year,” Carey said. “The point guard did a lot of the scoring last year.

“They play a lot of man, a lot of 2-3. I was kind of surprised, they’re probably a little more athletic than we are at every position. They get up and down the floor, go inside-out a lot. It’s going to be a big challenge.”

Kansas comes into the game sporting a 7-5 record.

WVU has balanced scoring, led by Bussie at 14.5 points a game with Bria Holmes scoring 14, Christal Caldwell 12.4 and Taylor Palmer 12.7 off the bench.

Follow Bob Hertzel on Twitter @bhertzel.

1
Text Only
Bob Herzel
  • HERTZEL COLUMN: Big 12 provides plenty of optimism

    This past week the Big 12 held its annual media gathering in Dallas and served up a heaping portion of optimism for the 2014 season that is now upon us, West Virginia University opening its preseason practices on Thursday.
    This is a time of year when no one has lost a game, not even Charlie Weis at Kansas, and it’s a time of year when opinions are more plentiful than tattoos in an NFL locker room.

    July 27, 2014

  • HERTZEL COLUMN: WVU needs White to follow in former receivers’ footsteps

    A year ago Clint Trickett took a lot of grief as the once potent West Virginia offense came unraveled, but there is more that than meets the eye.
    The criticism was not unfounded, of course, although behind each incomplete pass there was the pain Trickett was suffering through to throw it, his rotator cuff in need of surgery.

    July 26, 2014

  • HERTZEL COLUMN: O’Toole joins long list of eccentric WVU kickers, punters

    The star of the Big 12’s annual football media day wasn’t a star at all.
    He intrigued the media far more than Bob Stoops, the coach of preseason favorite Oklahoma, and more than Baylor quarterback Bryce Petty, the preseason player of the year.

    July 25, 2014

  • WVU, N.C. State to meet in football

    Following a trend of creating non-conference games against regional opponents, West Virginia University has reached agreement with North Carolina State to play a home-and-home football series in 2018 and 2019.
    The Mountaineers are scheduled to play N.C. State in Raleigh on Sept. 15, 2018, and then play host to the Wolfpack on Sept. 14, 2019.

    July 24, 2014

  • HERTZEL COLUMN: ‘Cheating pays’ remark should draw attention

    When Bob Bowlsby, the outspoken commissioner of the Big 12, presented his opening-day picture of the future of college sports in Dallas for the annual media day gathering, his bleak comments were not unexpected.

    July 24, 2014

  • Holgorsen’s program hits turning point

    You can almost sense, as you watch West Virginia University football coach Dana Holgorsen sit before the gathered Big 12 media contingent answering questions in the Omni Hotel in Arlington, Texas, that he senses his program has reached a turning point.

    July 23, 2014

  • Big 12 Media Days Foo_time(1).jpg Trickett’s play key factor for Mountaineers’ success

     In the end, it comes down to the quarterback.
    Always has with Dana Holgorsen, always will.
    Quarterback is the offense with the West Virginia University coach. When he does well, the team wins – almost always.
    When he does poorly, the team doesn’t stand much of a chance.

    July 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • Saban, family happy at Alabama

    Alabama football coach Nick Saban, whose team opens the season against West Virginia in Atlanta on Aug. 30, denied receiving or turning down this offseason an offer of $100 million to coach Texas, indicating he planned to finish his career as coach of the Crimson Tide.

    July 18, 2014

  • HERTZEL COLUMN: ‘Quarterback child prodigy’ comes to WVU amidst very high expectations

    Has West Virginia football coach Dana Holgorsen finally put the arrow he needs in his quiver with the commitment received Wednesday from high school quarterback David Sills, who is a rather extraordinary story and may also just be a rather extraordinary quarterback?

    July 18, 2014

  • WVU kicker Molinari ‘All-American boy’

    West Virginia kicker Mike Molinari may not be an All-American but he is an All-American boy.
    He was honored for that on Wednesday when the Allstate Insurance Company and the American Football Coaches Association announced the West Virginia redshirt senior kicker/punter Michael Molinari is a nominee for the Allstate AFCA Good Works Team.

    July 16, 2014

House Ads
Featured Ads