The Times West Virginian

February 22, 2011

The next test

Rejuvenated WVU women host No. 8 Irish

By Bob Hertzel
For the Times West Virginian

MORGANTOWN — At 21-6 in the Big East, West Virginia probably has assured itself a spot in the NCAA Tournament but don’t tell that to Mike Carey or his West Virginia women’s basketball team.

Not with No. 8 Notre Dame coming to the Coliseum tonight for a 7 p.m. game.

See, Carey knows better than to count on anything when it comes to selection committees.

He also knows something else.

“You’re only as good as your last game,” he said.

Right now that’s pretty darn good, having gotten a measure of revenge on Pittsburgh by knocking the Panthers around 90-79 on their home court.

In a day, however, Notre Dame will have been the Mountaineers last game and only a victory will satisfy him and his ladies, all of whom seem to be rejuvenated after losing five of six games at a point when they thought they could ride into the nation’s Top 5.

What turned the Mountaineers around at Pitt and is it a permanent thing?

Well, actually it’s two things involving two players … Sarah Miles, the senior point guard, and Aysa Bussie, the sophomore pivot.

Miles had been struggling terribly, once actually turning the ball over 11 times.

Then came the game at Pitt.

“That’s the first time since she’s been back (from injury) that I’ve seen the old Sarah Miles,” Carey said.

Against Pitt there were nine assists and one turnover from Miles, who put the team into its sets and ran them as they were supposed to be run.

“She was just being more aggressive,” senior Liz Miles said. “She was pushing the ball, not worrying about turnovers. She was just going at it.”

At the same time Miles was turning up the juice so was Bussie, who is supposed to be a force down low but who had not played with much zest, scoring just 12 points in the three games leading up to the Pittsburgh game.

Against Pittsburgh she pushed to the basket, looked for her shots and hit five of six while also marching to the free throw line to hit six of nine.

She finished with a season high 16 points and a bucket full of respect from her teammates and coach.

“She was on top of her game,” Carey said.

But then so was everyone.

“Everyone was looking for their shot. We had 20 assists and 10 turnovers, which means we gave the ball up,” Carey said.

All was not well, however, for the defense gave up 78 points and that is not the kind of ball Carey likes to play.

“I’d rather score 70 and give up 55,” he said.

But when you’ve lost five of six you can’t be choosey.

Notre Dame, 22-5, is a balanced, hard playing team with big, physical guards who will also attack and averages 80.1 points a game.

Skylar Diggins, a sophomore guard, is a semifinalist for the Nancy Lieberman Award given the nation’s top point guard. She averages 14.1 points a game and has 125 assists in 27 games.

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