MORGANTOWN — Mike Carey has had enough and he doesn’t care who knows it.
His team has worked too hard and come too far for him to sit quietly any more about the way his team is being treated, both in the Big East and in the NCAA.
Fine, they were a No. 3 seed in the women’s draw, that was announced Monday night. They would have liked to have been a No. 2, could even have made a case for it, but when you have come from where Carey and his West Virginia program has come from, you aren’t about to complain about that.
But for the second time in two NCAA appearances, his Mountaineers are stuck facing the possibility of playing an opponent on its home court in the second round and he doesn’t like it.
“I figured we’d be a No. 3 seed, but I’m very disappointed we again get to play someone on their home floor,” he said.
The NCAA sent West Virginia to the Memphis bracket, where it will play its first two games in Austin, Texas. It opens against No. 14 Lamar at 9:30 p.m. Sunday. If it wins and if the University of Texas takes care of its business, the Mountaineers will have to play the No. 6 Longhorns on their home floor.
The last time the Mountaineers were in the NCAA, in 2008, they were a No. 5 seed and were sent to Albuquerque where they had to face the New Mexico Lobos on their home floor.
“I’m a little disappointed in the Big East, too,” Carey said. “I thought they might fight for us. I asked them to not let it happen again, but it is what is.”
And it is a travesty. With all the arenas there are throughout the nation, there is no reason on earth for any team to have to play at home, least of all a No. 6 seed that hasn’t earned the right.
“It shows we don’t get the respect we need to get,” Carey said.
More important, however, there’s no reason for one school to be stuck in the situation of having to play the home team twice in two appearances, to say nothing of having the Big East Tournament held on the home court of its best team.
Why could not the Big East move the tournament around or play it at a neutral site? The league maintains that they bid it out and that Connecticut wins the bid, but they could sell a sponsorship of the tournament and then hold it at a neutral site.
That the tournament is held on UConn’s home floor when they are the dominant team not only in the conference but in college basketball turns the tournament into a farce without so much as pretense of being anything but a vehicle to send the Big East’s premier program off as the league champion.
It was pointed out to Carey that if it were at a neutral site, or if the NCAA did not put a host team in some of its sites, the stands would not be full. Asked if he would prefer to play before a full house or before an empty house, Carey didn’t hesitate in answering.
“I’d rather have people there cheering for us. If I had to pick no one in the stands or a full house cheering for the other team, I’d pick no one in the stands,” he said. “Texas is a great venue. You just don’t want to play the home team on its own floor. I’d like to play them in Morgantown.”
Carey even would go so far as to say that West Virginia could serve as host, that its facilities are of a quality the NCAA could accept, but that he wasn’t sure they could get the crowd support necessary for the tournament to be held in Morgantown.
“You always run the risk of not making the tournament,” Carey noted, pointing out that Pittsburgh is hosting a sub-regional next week and Pitt didn’t make the field, which will kill the attendance.
West Virginia qualified as a No. 3 seed by finishing second in the Big East and losing in the final of the tournament to UConn. The seed is the highest they’ve ever had and is a tribute to the school record 28 victories against only five defeats.
One player who is happy to be heading to Texas is WVU point guard Sara Miles, who is from San Antonio, just 45 minutes away.
“My mom has never seen me play live,” she said.
Of course, the point is moot if the Mountaineers don’t get past Lamar or Texas loses to San Diego State.
E-mail Bob Hertzel at firstname.lastname@example.org.