The Times West Virginian

WVU Sports

November 12, 2010

WVU women set to open season againt Loyola

MORGANTOWN — When they roll out the carpet and introduce West Virginia University’s women’s basketball team today for the opening game of the 2010-11 season against Loyola of Maryland it will mark the beginning for the five West Virginia seniors but the end of the beginning for three freshmen.

Almost like nature itself, there comes a time of rebirth and each season you are reminded of it as the seniors play their final year and the freshmen begin the long journey those seniors are just completing.

Liz Repella and Sarah Miles have been here for four years under Coach Mike Carey and they know what it is all about.

“They understand,” Carey was saying before Wednesday’s practice on the Coliseum floor, the site of a doubleheader that includes the men’s opener. “I know what Liz is going to give us. I know what Sarah is going to give us. But I need the other girls to play. I have to find out what they will give us.”

In some strange twist of fate, Miles will not be in her familiar role as point guard, coming back from a wrist injury that kept her out of practice until Wednesday. In her place will be the true freshman, Brooke Hampton, feeling like the only person in the bar without an ID.

Being a freshman is not easy. New city, new friends, new routine, a long step up on the basketball ladder while, at the same time, being out on your own for the first time.

“It’s like a whole different schedule basically. It’s study hall, extra work outs, the amount of practice,” Hampton said.

She moves in for a senior to run the offense with nothing more than a successful exhibition performance under her belt, one in which she put up the very unfreshmanlike numbers of 11 assists and just one turnover.

“It was good to get that first exhibition game over. I’m more confident, more excited now. I know the routine. My teammates have helped me out. I was starting like an amateur player,” she said.

She knows that eventually the heartbeat of the program will be put in her hands, coming from the likes of Repella and Myles and others who came in with Carey and turned a hamburger of a program into top sirloin.

“I just feel like we have to follow in their footsteps. We have to prove to people why we should be playing on the court, keeping that reputation of WVU basketball,” she said.

She remembers some of those players from the recent past — Chakia Cole, Yolanda Paige, Yinka Sanni and Meg Bulger. The days of losing to Connecticut by nearly 100 points and of five-victory seasons, however, are forgotten.

“I appreciate it a lot, how the program has grown,” she said. “We’re coming into this year not thinking about the past, only the present. This is a new year, a new opportunity to come out and accomplish some goals.”

Those goals have reached the point this year that they are thinking of only one thing.

“Every day when we come in a huddle, we say ‘National Champions!’ for a reason. That’s our goal.

“As a freshman, that’s what you want. You want to be the best,” she said.

The seniors know this is their last run at it.

They know that they are the leaders, but they also must be led Carey understands that, understands that he drives them hard.

“They get tired of it. Every time they make a mistake, I get on them,” he said. “Poor Liz and Medina [Ali], they are the captains and here I go, ‘You’re a senior captain and this stuff is going on?’ They get tired of that, too.

“Bottom line is we’re going to coach them just like they’re freshmen.

“They make mistakes, we’re going to correct them and address the mistakes. They understand that. If we are going to be a good team, then we have to get better.”

Repella is ready for it.

“I think it’s the mind set, knowing this is your last year. All the goals of the team, you only have this year to accomplish it. There’s no next year,” she said. “Every day you come in here and work hard because you’re not going to have another year to do it.”

“The goal is to beat UConn. We have a great opportunity this year. They lost a few players, we didn’t and added a few good players. Look forward to playing them and giving them a great game like last year,” Miles said.

And it starts here tonight.

E-mail Bob Hertzel at bhertzel@hotmail.com.

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