The Times West Virginian

WVU Sports

December 7, 2011

Frosh Stepney gives WVU new look

MORGANTOWN — You have heard the biblical passage Isaiah 11:6.

“The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; and the calf and the young lion and the fatted calf together; and a little child shall lead them.”

Put into women’s basketball terms, that child is Linda Stepney, a freshman point guard out of Norfolk, Va., who will lead Mike Carey’s West Virginia Mountaineers into Big East play tonight at Syracuse.

It won’t be easy for Stepney or the Mountaineers, who do not play very well at Syracuse in the vast but mostly vacant Carrier Dome, WVU having lost the past two trips there by 22 and 19 points.

But Stepney is a new face who gives the Mountaineer basketball team a new look. Her game is uptempo, exciting. She is a deft ball-handler who likes to penetrate and who can score but more likely will hit another player with a creative pass.

She also is a freshman.

“She’ll make great plays and she’ll make freshman plays,” Carey said moments before the team departed for Syracuse. “Hopefully there will be more great plays.”

Stepney understands that she is a freshman and as such faces challenges from every direction, including one she hadn’t counted on.

Prior to the season she suffered a stress fracture in her foot, one that cost her valuable practice time playing with her teammates and learning the system and that to this day bothers her, although she has managed to work her way into the lineup despite not yet being fully healed or in shape.

“I don’t think about it when I’m playing,” she said. “I just tell myself the leg doesn’t hurt.”

But her life is different because of it. Class and basketball are demanding on any freshman trying to make the difficult adjustment to life as a college athlete, but she also must get treatment every day, which takes time away from other things, and when not on the floor she wears a support and protective boot, a constant reminder that she isn’t yet healed.

Because her practice time has been limited, she is still learning her teammates and they are learning her game.

“She’s new to us,” said center Asya Bussie. “We didn’t see her in high school. She didn’t play in Europe.”

And so you aren’t really sure when she might dish you the ball or if she’ll drive to the hoop.

“When she came back she brought a lot of energy,” Bussie said. “She really didn’t miss a beat. She’s quick to drive the lane and you have to be prepared for her passes. She really sees the floor well.”

Stepney was a Top 100 high school player out of Norfolk, not far from Newport News, which was home to one of the best point guards ever at WVU, Yolanda Paige, with whom she is now being compared.

“She penetrates like Yolanda and she’s strong for a freshman like Yolanda was,” Carey said. “She sees the floor well, the way Yolanda did, and she might be even more of a scoring threat than Yolanda was as a freshman when the leg heals. Right now she can’t push off on it very well.”

The year, Stepney admits, has been a whirlwind of change.

“There’s a lot of new things, things I’m not used to,” she said of college life and college basketball. “I just have to stay focused and stay strong.”

There’s school work and practice time and travel and trips to places she’s only read about but never seen.

And there are the leadership responsibilities thrust onto a freshman but fit far better on upperclassmen. As point guard, though, you run the show.

“Linda has come in and made a statement,” Bussie said.

In a way Carey is blessed, for with Stepney’s playing time curtailed by the injury, he has sophomore Brooke Hampton, another extremely talented point guard, to also run the show. Hampton leads stability, as evidenced by 45 assists to just nine turnovers, but Stepney is more of a penetrator, giving a different look to the offense.

Email Bob Hertzel at bhertzel@hotmail.com. Follow on Twitter @bhertzel.

1
Text Only
WVU Sports
  • WVU’s Smallwood waives preliminary hearing

    West Virginia running back Wendell Smallwood, arrested on a felony charge of witness intimidation in a first-degree murder case, waived his preliminary hearing Monday, his case now being moved to Superior Court, where more serious crimes are argued, according to The News Journal.

    July 29, 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

  • HERTZEL COLUMN: Big 12 provides plenty of optimism

    This past week the Big 12 held its annual media gathering in Dallas and served up a heaping portion of optimism for the 2014 season that is now upon us, West Virginia University opening its preseason practices on Thursday.
    This is a time of year when no one has lost a game, not even Charlie Weis at Kansas, and it’s a time of year when opinions are more plentiful than tattoos in an NFL locker room.

    July 27, 2014

  • Seider's brother commits to WVU

    West Virginia University’s football team has received a commitment from one of its own.

    July 26, 2014

  • HERTZEL COLUMN: Big 12 provides much optimism heading into 2014 season

    This past week the Big 12 held its annual media gathering in Dallas and served up a heaping portion of optimism for the 2014 season that is now upon us, West Virginia University opening its preseason practices on Thursday.

    July 26, 2014

  • HERTZEL COLUMN: WVU needs White to follow in former receivers’ footsteps

    A year ago Clint Trickett took a lot of grief as the once potent West Virginia offense came unraveled, but there is more that than meets the eye.
    The criticism was not unfounded, of course, although behind each incomplete pass there was the pain Trickett was suffering through to throw it, his rotator cuff in need of surgery.

    July 26, 2014

  • Forsey posts Top 10 finish at World Championships

    Freshman Jillian Forsey of the West Virginia University cross country team finished ninth at the 2014 IAAF World Junior Track and Field Championships in Eugene, Oregon.
    Forsey, a native of Stephenville, Newfoundland and Labrador, was representing Team Canada. She was the first Canadian to cross the finish line in the women’s 5,000-meter run, finishing in ninth place overall in 16:02.55.

    July 26, 2014

  • FURFARI COLUMN: Wyant talks about ‘Pappy’ Lewis and other items of interest

    I saved some other interesting observations from the recent interview with Fred Wyant which you may find worth reading.
    He believes a college football coach ought to recruit a quarterback he wants, give him some help, then turn virtually everything over to him and let him go.

    July 26, 2014

  • Forsey posts Top 10 finish at World Championships

    Freshman Jillian Forsey of the West Virginia University cross country team finished ninth at the 2014 IAAF World Junior Track and Field Championships in Eugene, Oregon.

    July 25, 2014

  • FURFARI COLUMN: Wyant talks about ‘Pappy’ Lewis and other items of interest

    I saved some other interesting observations from the recent interview with Fred Wyant which you may find worth reading.

    July 25, 2014

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