The Times West Virginian

Bob Herzel

March 9, 2013

WVU women looking past injuries

Play Sooners today to open Big 12 tourney

MORGANTOWN — It never has been easy on Mike Carey, so why should the West Virginia University women’s basketball coach find it any different as he heads into today’s Big 12 Conference Tournament at 9:30 p.m. in Dallas after a first-round bye, his sixth-seeded Mountaineers facing No. 3 Oklahoma.

The game can be seen on the Fox Sports Network.

You know how it’s been for Carey. He inherited a program that was a bottom feeder in women’s basketball, built it as best he could but was always banging his head against the nation’s top team in Connecticut.

All that while there were injuries over and over, mostly knees, which would take away key players and keep his team from looking like he expected to when he was building it.

So this year the jump from the Big East to the Big 12 would make life easier?

Hardly. He winds up again in the conference with the most dominant team in women’s basketball, Baylor, and once again his team is decimated by injury, heading into this first tournament game without one of his key players, Jess Harlee, an All-Big 12 defensive choice, who became the third knee injury of the year in the final regular-season game against Texas.

“She tore her ACL and her MCL trying to save a ball from going out of bounds,” Carey said after getting the report from the medical team. “No contact, no nothing. Just turned it. It was at the far end. We saw it and there was no doubt in my mind what had happened. Needless to say, she’s out for the year.”

It’s a key loss in a lot of ways.

“We’ll miss her leadership. Someone else has to pick up that role,” Carey said.

Harlee was being used off the bench to provide instant energy. Now that’s gone, so Carey has to find another approach.

“Everyone has injuries and you say, ‘Man, that’s a shame,’ but when it affects you directly, it really is a shame,” he said.

His problem is that he really hasn’t had time to prepare for playing without Harlee.

“We can talk about it all we want, but we have to get on the floor. You don’t have a lot of time to make adjustments,” Carey said. “We couldn’t practice Wednesday, and by the time we got out of practice on Thursday we only had an hour on the floor.”

And it’s on the floor where the work must be done.

“When Jess went down we put different people in at the 4 and tried to run some plays, and we didn’t have any ball movement. We ran four or five plays and oh, that was a mess. I shouldn’t have tried that. That was not good,” Carey said.

“The problem is we haven’t had time to correct that. It is what it is. We have to probably not make so many adjustments … just play people in their positions and try to get away with that.”

In Oklahoma his team meets a solid outfit that was ranked much of the year and finished 21-9 with an 11-7 league record compared with WVU’s 17-12 and 9-9 marks.

The two teams split their games, Oklahoma winning on its home court, 71-68, and WVU winning at the Coliseum, 82-63. Taylor Palmer scored 30 for WVU in the loss while Christal Caldwell, the team’s leading scorer for the year and freshly named to the All-Big East first team, led the victory with 24 points.

The Sooners are led by Aaryn Ellenberg, the conference’s third top scorer with 19.0 points a game.

“Aaryn Ellenberg is as good as anyone in the league and can score in bunches. We have to try to keep the ball out of her hands. We can’t let her go off,” Carey said.

One problem Carey has to deal with is fatigue. The Mountaineers are making their fourth trip to Texas in the past month and second this week, a week in which they have traveled roughly 4,161 miles.

Carey will not let his team use that or the injury to Harlee as an excuse.

“It’s tournament time. You have to step up. There is no tomorrow now. We have to step up and play,” Carey said.

Email Bob Hertzel at bhertzel@hotmail.com or follow him 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