By Bob Hertzel
Times West Virginian
West Virginia University women’s basketball coach Mike Carey has had enough of not enough fans at his games and let it fly following his team’s easy 67-47 victory over St. Bonaventure on Saturday night.
Carey had come into the arena in the midst of the men’s thrilling 68-67 victory over Virginia Tech with a full house of 11,631 fans creating a spectacular atmosphere for basketball, staying until the bitter end when Juwan Staten hit a driving layup to win the game.
Then his team took the floor before a sparse crowd of 1,629 fans, many of them kids under the teenaged years and nearly none of them students.
When Carey entered the press room for his post-game comments, he began like this:
“I want to thank the people who stayed after the men’s game and shame on the people who didn’t.”
He was just beginning to crank up the heat … not worrying about the 17 points that YaYa Dunning and Christal Caldwell had scored or the fact that this game was revenge for a loss at the Coliseum to St. Bonaventure last year.
“I’m so tired of this stuff. I’m so tired of it. The people that left, shame on you,” he continued. “I’m from West Virginia, too, and this is ridiculous. How do you think it is to try get our girls up when the arena had cleared out.
“This is ridiculous, just ridiculous.”
Women’s basketball, of course, is a tough sell in most places, but Carey has had a successful run as WVU coach and the team has had many great moments but was always in the Big East with Connecticut during its run as champion.
And it won’t change much now that it is in the Big 12 with Baylor, an undefeated national champion last year with its best player back.
Still, there was something of a captive audience on hand from the men’s game and they hightailed as if a bomb scare had been called in after the men’s game.
“Shame on the people who left, ran out of here. Shame on them,” he said, then talked briefly about the game.
He spoke about how well his team had played defense in the first half, holding the Bonnies to 13 points in building a 28-13 lead, a lead that would grow to 30 in the second half before letting St. Bonaventure chip away.
“lf we could only get two halves,” he said. “Right now, we’re getting only one. If we could get two, it would be good.”
But he spoke halfheartedly here, for the lack of support for his team was weighing heavily on his mind and he would get back to it.
“I don’t to want to complain. I don’t like to c … yeah, I like to complain. I’m just very disappointed. That is so frustrating. I see people I know, people just get up and run out of here. It’s so hard to get the girls up.
“I can say “poop” about West Virginia because I’m from West Virginia. If they don’t like it, tough. My office is right over here in the practice facility and I’m more than happy to talk to anybody because it’s ridiculous. Ridiculous,” he continued.
“Our girls bust their butts and do stuff and then to be embarrassed like that. We had to play the doubleheader because of TV. I don’t blame the administration. I don’t blame our people but it’s just amazing people didn’t stay to watch that game.
“It’s a funny thing, you say you’re a West Virginia fan. I kind of question that. If you are a West Virginia fan, you like all sports. You cheer for West Virginia. If you’re a West Virginia fan and you’re here, you don’t freakin’ leave. I don’t care who likes it and who doesn’t like it. That’s just how I feel.”
In a way it’s how his players feel.
“It’s kind of frustrating,” Dunning admitted, “but at the same time we have create our own excitement.”
“It’s kind of a letdown,” Caldwell added. “You come in, see the Coliseum packed, they’re cheering and there are students here. I know, the little kids love to see us play and we have to do it for them, but there just are not too many students who watch us play.”
Asked what she would say to the students if given the chance, Caldwell said:
“We work just as hard as the guys. We practice three hours, just like them. We are West Virginia’s team, just like the guys. No, we can’t dunk the ball but we are exciting.”
It was something that Carey and Co. obviously felt they had to say.
They put so much into it that it hurts when it goes so obviously unappreciated.
Now we’ll see who was listening.
Email Bob Hertzel at email@example.com. Follow on Twitter@bhertzel.