The Times West Virginian

Sports

March 24, 2013

WVU women brace for Delle Donne

MORGANTOWN — Brittney Griner stands as tall as her 6-foot, 8-inch frame in the history of college basketball, having dominated the sport for two years now, but West Virginia University will see how Elena Delle Donne of Delaware measures up against her today as the Mountaineers face the Blue Hens on their home court at 12:15 p.m. in the opening round of the NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament.

Delle Donne, a one-time Connecticut signee, stands 6-5 and averaged 25.3 points a game this season as part of perhaps the top overall game in the country.

“She is almost the same size as Brittney Griner but with guard skills, so we are just going to have to respect her as a player and we know she can score, so we are going to try and deny her the ball and not let her get as many touches and try and stop a lot of her offense that way,” said West Virginia junior guard and leading scorer Christal Caldwell.

At 13.2 points a game, Caldwell averaged just more than half the scoring that Delle Donne produced.

Coach Mike Carey, appearing in his seventh NCAA Tournament and in the ninth in school history, has spent a lot of time trying to device ways to neutralize Delle Donne, but he’s not about to reveal his strategy.

“We’re going to cheat some,” he said, indicating he’ll be doubling up on her whenever he can. “I don’t want to say where we’re cheating, but we’ve just got to hope a couple of them don’t have career nights and if they start having career nights then we’ll have to go out there and guard them and that leaves (Delle Donne) one-on-one a lot. Where we’ve tweaked it a couple of places hopefully we can overload on her a little bit.”

The problem is that she’s seen a lot of that and found ways to handle it, but WVU is a stronger defensive team than most of the opponents Delaware has faced.

“She is shooting almost 50 percent from the 3, which definitely makes her a threat out on the perimeter, but she also can take you off the dribble and step back at 6-5, and that’s hard to guard with another guard,” Carey noted. “If you play a big girl on you she takes you outside, and if you play a guard on her she takes them inside.”

WVU enters the game as a No. 11 seed following a 17-13 season that included a 9-9 league record, while Delaware was a No. 3 seed after going 30-3 to earn a No. 15 national ranking. The Blue Hens were unbeaten in Colonial Athletic Conference play, losing to Georgetown, Duquesne and No. 9 Maryland, the first two losses coming while Delle Donna was out suffered the effects of Lyme Disease and the third in her first game back after missing a month.

“We like to be underdogs,” Caldwell said. “No one expects us to win except us. We like to go in with a chip on our shoulder.”

Yaya Dunning, WVU’s 6-3 center, says that the disappointment of a regular season that was ruined for the Mountaineers by losing three players to ACL surgery and ended with a pair of difficult losses is behind them.

“I think we forgot about the season. This is the second season for us. It’s a chance to take care of business. We know it’s one and done,” she said.

That is meaningful for Dunning, a senior, who knows that her career ends with the next loss.

It probably doesn’t help any that the Mountaineers are not only away from home, but on Delaware’s home court and that a sellout crowd is expected, but that may not be as difficult a task as it seems. Two of Delaware’s three losses have come at home, and WVU has done well on the road.

“Hopefully we go there and continue to concentrate and do the things that we’ve done during the regular season on the road,” said Carey. “If we do that we’ll be OK.”

“I think this team plays very well with its back against the wall, and I think we do a good job of playing on the road,” Dunning said. “I think we are all excited about the challenge. It’s going to be a sold-out crowd. We know we are playing them on their home court, so we have to be focused and we just have to be steady and just play together.”

The game is being televised on ESPN2.

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

1
Text Only
Sports
  • Big ‘I’ golf coming to Pete Dye

    The Trusted Choice Big “I” National Championship will make its first trip to West Virginia when Pete Dye Golf Club hosts the 46th annual installment of the event Aug. 5-8.

    July 29, 2014

  • Charges against Smallwood dropped

    West Virginia University running back Wendell Smallwood took to Twitter mid-afternoon Tuesday to express his feelings after charges of witness intimidation against him were dropped by the state of Delaware.

    July 29, 2014

  • Return to Mountain State exciting for new sports writer

    When I packed my belongings out of my Morgantown apartment in May, fresh with a journalism degree from West Virginia University, I thought I had ended a chapter of my life and closed the book on my experience inside the great Mountain State forever.
    It wasn’t until I received a phone call back in my hometown of Canton, Ohio, from the Times West Virginian that the idea of a return to the area became a possibility. The opportunity to begin my professional career in an area that I’ve become comfortable with for the past several years was too good to pass by.

    July 29, 2014

  • Black Diamond.jpg Black Diamond Express looking to add elite players

     Travel sports are said to be the cream of the crop for young athletes.
    Generally, youth are selected to play on travel league teams based upon a heightened skill level or an ability that exceeds the everyday athlete.
    That’s what the Black Diamond Express softball team in Morgantown is looking for, along with a few new elite players.

    July 29, 2014 1 Photo

  • Steelers’ Spence caps lengthy comeback

    The whistle blew and Sean Spence sprinted forward, each cathartic step distancing the linebacker from the horrific knee injury that threatened to end his NFL career before it even really began.

    July 28, 2014

  • All tickets claimed for LeBron’s homecoming show

    LeBron James’ Ohio hometown says fans quickly claimed the thousands of tickets available for the homecoming event expected to be his first public appearance in the state since announcing his return to the Cleveland Cavaliers.

    July 28, 2014

  • FSU to hold Falcon Fantasy Camp

    Ever want to be a college football coach? Now you’ll have your chance thanks to Fairmont State University’s Falcon Fantasy Camp.

    July 28, 2014

  • Lawyer: Wife plotted to take over Sterling trust

    A lawyer argued Monday that the estranged wife of Donald Sterling plotted to strip his client from the family trust that owned the Los Angeles Clippers after the head of the NBA said she couldn’t negotiate a sale of the franchise unless she owned all the shares.

    July 28, 2014

  • Were Bowlsby’s fears about college athletics’ future justified?

    I have never met or even talked to Bob Bowlsby, commissioner of the Big 12 Conference.
    But I did read a lengthy story on his 45-minute address to reporters last week on Media Day in Dallas, Texas. Among other things, Bowlsby forecast a startling change threatening the existence of intercollegiate athletics as we have known for these many, many years.

    July 28, 2014

  • Steelers’ Wheaton eyeing chance after tough rookie year

    Markus Wheaton realizes the pressure is there, but he doesn’t mind.

    July 28, 2014

Featured Ads
NDN Sports
House Ads
Auto Racing Photos
Auto Racing Breaking News
Auto Racing Standings