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
  • Arrest warrant out for WVU recruit

    West Virginia University’s newest men’s basketball recruit, Tarik Phillip, has an order out for his arrest in North Carolina, according to a story in The Dominion-Post, which said three Gaston County Magistrate office spokespersons confirmed.

    April 20, 2014

  • WVU baseball powers past Oklahoma, 9-5

    The WVU baseball team tied a season high with 18 hits to defeat Oklahoma, 9-5, on Saturday afternoon at L. Dale Mitchell Park.
    The win gives the Mountaineers their second Big 12 series win of the season and improves the overall record to 19-16 and 4-7 in conference play. Oklahoma drops to 25-16 overall and 5-7 in Big 12 play.

    April 20, 2014

  • HERTZEL COLUMN: Under pressure, NCAA decides to change rules

    At first glance, it appears that they do not go hand-in-hand, a pair of rules changes the NCAA’s Legislative Council approved this week, sending them off for what seems to be smooth sailing toward becoming rules.

    April 18, 2014

  • Means, WVU baseball shut out Oklahoma

    Junior left-hander John Means of the WVU baseball team threw eight shutout innings and the Mountaineers had a five-run first inning en route to a 7-0 victory over Oklahoma on Thursday evening at L. Dale Mitchell Park.
    The Mountaineers (18-15, 3-6 Big 12) broke a six-game Big 12 losing streak after being swept by TCU and Oklahoma State in back-to-back weekends. WVU had 16 hits and did not make an error for the second-straight game.

    April 18, 2014

  • FURFARI COLUMN: Dr. Graber disagrees with Gee’s stance on Turnbull firing

    Dr. Stephen Graber, an associate professor at the West Virginia University School of Medicine, is among the latest WVU teachers to deplore Oliver Luck’s firing of veteran wrestling coach Craig Turnbull.
    He raised some significant questions about that issue last Monday in a meeting of the WVU Faculty Senate.

    April 18, 2014

  • Huggins signs junior college guard

    Coach Bob Huggins completed his 2014-15 West Virginia University recruiting class on Wednesday and deemed it a success after receiving a signed letter of intent from junior college guard Tarik Phillip.
    Phillip joins Jevon Carter of Maywood, Ill., and Daxter Miles of Baltimore’s Dunbar High and out of Notre Dame Prep in Massachusetts in the 2014-15 recruiting class.

    April 17, 2014

  • HERTZEL COLUMN: WVU gymnast hopes to stick her final landing

    The reaction, one suspects, was the same as most people who see either a picture of West Virginia University gymnast Hope Sloanhoffer or meet her for the first time in person — a quick double take, maybe even stumbling over the first few words of an introduction.

    April 17, 2014

  • FURFARI COLUMN: Comparing pay of coaches and professors

    Stringing together some odds and ends which may be of interest to you:
    • A beautiful lady came up to my table last Sunday at brunch in the Village of Heritage Point’s main dining room with a message.

    April 17, 2014

  • Bussie looks forward to WNBA

    On Tuesday, the weather turned cold, the wind blew and amongst the raindrops that fell a few snowflakes fluttered quietly to Earth.
    It was as if it was a celebration of Asya Bussie being drafted on Monday night by the Minnesota Lynx, champions of the WNBA, with the third selection of the second round, the 15th overall pick of the draft.

    April 16, 2014

  • WVU’s Harlee named Big 12 Scholar-Athlete

    The Big 12 Conference announced its Scholar-Athlete of the Year recipients for the 2014 winter sport season, and West Virginia University senior Jess Harlee earns the honor for women’s basketball.
    Harlee was selected as the award winner based on a vote of each respective sport’s head coaching group, with coaches not permitted to vote for their own student-athletes.

    April 16, 2014

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