The Times West Virginian

Bob Herzel

January 12, 2014

WVU women moving past Baylor and on to Texas

MORGANTOWN — West Virginia University’s women’s basketball team, coming off its first loss since opening day, has a sizeable challenge in front of it when Texas come to the Coliseum at noon today.

The Longhorns come in at 11-4 while WVU is at 13-2. Both teams are 2-1 in the Big 12.

“They have as much talent as anyone in the league,” said WVU coach Mike Carey. “Make no doubt about it.”

That is not good news for a WVU team that enters the game off a 16-point home loss to Baylor, 78-62, giving up an astounding 48 points to Odyssey Sims.

“Nothing against Baylor. They are a great team, but I thought we gave them way too much respect,” Carey said.

Sims absolutely riddled WVU’s defense.

“Going back and looking at it, we tried to stop her a lot of different ways. We tried to go over the top. We tried to run people at her. We tried to double her,” Carey said. “It always boiled down to her always having the ball at the end. Because she was hitting her 3s, we had to honor that. We tried to help, but we did not do a good job of just standing in front of her.

“We came over and tried to block it and got sideways and put her at the foul line. When we tried zone, she hit two 3s right in the beginning.

“We have to come up with some new plan the next time we play her. My philosophy has always been to let her get her 30, which she was averaging, and shut down the other people. We shut down the other people but we let her get 48.

“That’s 18 more than her average and we lost by 16.”

Texas presents a totally different problem. It comes at you with size, possessing five players 6-foot-1 or taller and a 6-foot-7 center in Imani McGee-Stafford.

“Their 6-7 post does an excellent job of kicking it out for 3s, and they have excellent shooters,” Carey said. “We’ve got to play straight up. We can’t cheat one way or the other. Their post can score, so make no doubt about it, it starts with the post.”

Junior forward Nneka Enemkpali leads all players in scoring and rebounding with 14.1 points and 8.0 rebounds per game.

Senior guard Chassidy Fussell averaged 10.4 points per game and led UT’s 3-point shooting in nonconference play, but suffered a knee injury in her final nonconference outing that has her sidelined her for Big 12 play to date. Fussell’s playing status is day-to-day.

In Fussell’s absence, guards Krystle Henderson and Brady Sanders have combined for 31 of Texas’ 3-pointers. McGee-Stafford averages 9.3 points and 7.1 rebounds per game in all 15 games this season. She also leads UT in blocked shots with 22 this season.

WVU, meanwhile, has got to start shooting the ball again. In the three Big 12 games to date they are shooting just 37.4 percent with Christal Caldwell, after an 0-for-11 performance against Baylor shooting only 25.6 percent in Big 12 play.

“I have a lot of confidence in Christal. She will turn it around. She’s in the gym every day. She was in the gym yesterday – our off day – shooting hundreds of shots,” he said. “Taylor Palmer has to hit her shots, Brooke Hampton has to hit her shots. I’m working with Linda (Stepney) because we need her in the game. She’s an excellent penetrator.”

Carey said the Mountaineers had a good practice coming out of the Baylor game.

“We have to regroup a little. You are never as bad as you think you are, never as good as you think you are. Everyone thought we were great after the Oklahoma State game, and everyone thinks we’re terrible after the Baylor game. You have to take that with a grain of salt,” he said. “I told the players we have to continue do what we do. We have to continue to concentrate, continue to work hard, and if we do that we will win some games.”

Follow Bob Hertzel on Twitter @bhertzel

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