The Times West Virginian

WVU 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
WVU Sports
  • ‘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 23, 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.

    July 23, 2014

  • WVU, Tennessee finalize 2018 meeting

    West Virginia University and Tennessee have finalized their season-opening, Sept. 1, 2018, meeting in Charlotte, N.C., at Bank of America Stadium.
    Both teams will receive $2.5 million for the game and have a chance to earn up to $3.2 million with ticket incentives.
    Each team will buy 12,500 tickets and set aside 2,000 of its allotment for students.
    The game, played on the home field of the Carolina Panthers of the NFL, is being put on by the Charlotte Sports Federation.

    July 23, 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

  • Fleming, Billy.jpg WVU’s Fleming signs contract with Yankees

     Second baseman Billy Fleming of the West Virginia University baseball team has signed a professional contract with the New York Yankees, foregoing his upcoming senior season.
    “Ever since I was a little kid, it’s been my dream to play professional baseball,” Fleming said. “It is still surreal that I get to chase my dream, but I am ready to get after it. I loved my three years at WVU and want to thank all the coaches that made it possible for me to achieve my dream.”

    July 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • 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

  • Growing demands on college athletes concerns Wyant

    Fred Wyant, one of the greatest quarterbacks in West Virginia University’s history, has lashed out at today’s growing demands on college athletes.
    The 80-year-old Star City resident led the Mountaineers to a 30-4 record as the starter from 1952-1955. Percentage-wise, it’s clearly the best-ever record by a QB in school annals.
    Wyant, a member of the WVU Sports Hall of Fame, came here after graduating with honors from Weston High School. That’s where WVU coach Art “Pappy” Lewis signed him to a four-year scholarship.

    July 23, 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 22, 2014

  • Growing demands on college athletes concerns Wyant

    Fred Wyant, one of the greatest quarterbacks in West Virginia University’s history, has lashed out at today’s growing demands on college athletes.

    July 22, 2014

  • WVU’s Fleming signs with Yankees

    Second baseman Billy Fleming of the West Virginia University baseball team has signed a professional contract with the New York Yankees, foregoing his upcoming senior season.

    July 22, 2014

Featured Ads
WVU Sports Highlights
NDN Sports
House Ads
NCAA Breaking News
NCAA Photos