The Times West Virginian

Sports

March 25, 2013

HERTZEL COLUMN- Delle Donne better than BU’s Griner

MORGANTOWN — There were many questions, almost too many, swishing around within an inquiring mind as Yaya Dunning walked slowly from the floor of the Carpenter Arena on the University of Delaware campus having fouled out of her final collegiate game, a 66-53 loss in the first round of the NCAA Tournament, to answer.

The first, perhaps, was the easiest to answer and that was whether Baylor’s Brittney Griner, who is everyone’s college basketball’s player of the year, was a better basketball player than the Blue Hens’ Elena Delle Donne, who had just finished scoring 33 points against the Mountaineers.

The answer, quite simply, is that Griner is better at being tall, Delle Donne at playing basketball.

That is to take nothing away from Griner, who is what she is, which is an agile, talented young lady who happens to stand 6-8 in a game where 6-5 is considered tall. She uses her greatest asset as no one else ever has been able to do.

Delle Donne, on the other hand, is big at 6-5, but she does a little bit of everything that smaller, more agile players do while using her height and adding in a whole lot of scoring.

If one were to look at one moment in a terribly disappointing afternoon in which WVU blew a seven-point halftime lead to show just what Delle Donne is made of, it would be the way she blocked a close-in shot under the basket, knocking the ball out of bounds, then proceeded to steal the inbounds pass, following that up not much later with a basket and a foul.

With that question having been answered rather easily after having seen both players in action, there came a tougher question, and that was whether Delaware, and not West Virginia, would be advancing in this tournament if Mike Carey were not the most snake-bitten coach in America.

Was Delaware better, really, than the team Carey thought he would have on the floor, better than a team with both Yaya Dunning and Aysa Bussie playing down deep, with Akilah Bethel giving him time at an off-guard position and with Jess Harlee, a shutdown defender, guarding Delle Donne 1-on-1 as it should have been?

Many teams cannot survive one knee injury to a key player. Carey tried to survive three of them, one two days into practice to Bussie, his best player, and one a couple of games from the end of the season to the emotional heart and soul of the team in Harlee.

“First of all, I am proud of our players,” Carey said, beginning his post-game press conference. “With all the injuries and all the stuff going on, a lot of people would probably think I was in there yelling at them, but I wouldn’t. I was in there praising them.”

He understood the odds he was bucking.

Bussie’s absence cannot be underestimated, for she not only would have given WVU a pair of inside players, which would have taken all kinds of heat off the inconsistent outside shooting on this team, beefed up the rebounding and inside defense, but it also would have given Carey a chance to alternate  his big players to give them rest and maybe keep them out of the foul trouble that Dunning seemed to be in all season.

And then there was the question that jumps out at you about whether or not Delaware would have been able to sustain its second-half rally if it didn’t have a sold out — and “souled” out — home crowd behind it, providing energy and encouragement.

The NCAA allows teams to play at home in its tournament as a financial consideration, but how much of a disadvantage has WVU found itself at playing against the home team two of the last three years at Baylor and Delaware?

How much did this matter? Delle Donne was asked after the game and her response will give you some idea of just how wrong this is.

“This was incredible. I wish we could play the whole entire tournament here,” she said.

Not only that but in each of those three years they wound up within the first two rounds facing a superstar player, Griner at Baylor, Delle Donne at Delaware and Nnemkadi Ogwumike against Stanford. Griner scored 30, Ogwumike 16 and Delle Donne had her 33 with seven rebounds, two assists and four blocks.

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

1
Text Only
Sports
  • Morgan Hoke -ts.jpg Polar Bear tennis sweeps East: PHOTOS

    Last week East Fairmont’s girls’ tennis team beat Fairmont Senior, 4-3.
    Wednesday at Fairmont State University, the Polar Bears returned the favor with a 5-2 win over their cross-town rival.
    Alissa Link won No. 1 singles, 8-4. Morgan Hoke won No. 3 singles, 9-7. And Avery Towns won No. 4 singles, 8-5, for the Polar Bears.

    April 24, 2014 8 Photos

  • Falcons set for spring game

    Football is back … well, kind of.
    Today at 7 p.m., Fairmont State will hold its annual Maroon & White spring game at Duvall-Rosier Field. The scoreboard won’t mean a whole lot since it’s little more than a glorified scrimmage. Instead, here are five things to watch during today’s game.

    April 24, 2014

  • HERTZEL COLUMN: NCAA football is thriving in the digital age

    The other day Baylor football coach Art Briles walked into his graduate assistants’ office and had to laugh at what he saw.
    “There’s five guys sitting in there — a couple of GA’s and some office personnel — and they all are within a foot and a half of each other and not a one of them is talking to each other,” Briles said, describing the scene “Every one of them is on the phone.”

    April 24, 2014

  • Hillberry commits to Wesleyan

    Last year Emma Harrison and Kaitlyn Conaway teamed up with Alexis Hillberry to win several relay medals at the state track meet.
    Though the two West Virginia Wesleyan runners are now in college, they helped to pass the baton to Hillberry Wednesday when she signed her National Letter of Intent to join her former teammates on the Bobcats’ track team.

    April 24, 2014

  • O’Brien leads WVU baseball past Marshall

    Catcher Cam O’Brien made a bid at becoming only the second West Virginia University player to hit for the cycle as the Mountaineers jumped on Marshall early and routed their in-state rival, 10-3, behind strong pitching from Corey Walter and a pair of relievers.

    April 24, 2014

  • North, East softball earn blowout wins

    The North Marion softball team was at it again Wednesday night.
    Mattie Polling tripled and singled, starting pitcher Chelsi Latocha doubled and gave up just one hit as the Huskies rolled to another 3-inning mercy-rule victory over Lewis County, 18-1.

    April 24, 2014

  • Simon, Bruce lead Reds past Bucs, 5-2

    Alfredo Simon pitched into the seventh inning despite erratic control, Jay Bruce drove in a run for a fifth consecutive game and the Cincinnati Reds beat the Pittsburgh Pirates 5-2 Wednesday night.
    Simon (3-1) worked 6 2-3 innings and allowed two runs on four hits and five walks while striking out four.

    April 24, 2014

  • Pens squander lead, fall to Columbus

    Brandon Dubinsky scored with 22.5 seconds left in regulation to force overtime and Nick Foligno’s wrist shot just inside the blue line 2:49 into the extra session gave the Columbus Blue Jackets a 4-3 victory over the Pittsburgh Penguins on Wednesday night.

    April 24, 2014

  • FSHS #32, 29-BU #15-TS.jpg Cousins Sansalone, Craig lead Polar Bears past B-U: PHOTOS

    They say you don’t mess with family. Buckhannon-Upshur found that one out the hard way.

    April 23, 2014 7 Photos

  • Gabbi Mascaro Signing -md.jpg Mascaro signs with FSU

    Gabi Mascaro is staying in Fairmont.
    After considering several out-of-state colleges, the Fairmont Senior soccer standout signed her National Letter of Intent Tuesday to continue her career at Fairmont State University, an upstart program which will play its first games in 2015.

    April 23, 2014 1 Photo

Featured Ads
NDN Sports
House Ads
NCAA Breaking News
NCAA Photos