The Times West Virginian

WVU Sports

November 17, 2010

WVU women host Duquesne; men head to Puerto Rico

MORGANTOWN — West Virginia’s men’s basketball team, determined to prove that last year’s trip to the Final Four was a look into the future rather than simply an aberration of the present, heads to Puerto Rico this weekend for an invitational tournament that is aimed at beginning them down the road to Reliant Stadium in Houston, Tex., and a return to the Final Four.

Not that we will be without basketball in these West Virginia hills, however, as Mike Carey’s 11th-ranked women’s team gets point guard Sarah Miles back from a hand injury as it hosts Duquesne on Wednesday and Delaware State on Friday.

Both the men’s and women’s teams opened their seasons with victories.

The WVU men open their tournament on Thursday against Davidson in a rare 11:30 a.m. game to open the tournament that includes such teams as Nebraska, Vanderbilt, Hofstra, Minnesota, Western Kentucky and, most notably, a North Carolina team trying to rebound from a rare down season under Roy Williams.

That, of course, is the team the Mountaineers most would like to play in a final.

“The game everyone wants to see is us and North Carolina but a lot could happen,” guard Truck Bryant said on Monday, knowing that last year the Mountaineers played in an early season tournament expecting some stiff competition and never faced one of the teams it expected to face.

“We want to set our mark here. We want people to know, don’t look at us as underdogs. We have enough talent so we don’t have to be underdogs.”

Not even if they face Carolina, one of college basketball’s most storied programs. Asked what he thought of when North Carolina is mentioned, Bryant did not mince words.

“That we can beat them. I think they are overrated. I’ve never played against them. I want to play against them,” he said.

Huggins sees the tournament as the first real challenge.

“It’s good competition,” Huggins said of the tournament. “It gets us away from here. It’s a road game. It places us in a tournament atmosphere where we can play back to back.”

First there is Davidson, one of those always-dangerous mid-majors who have been a college basketball force since the days when Lefty Driesell was their coach.

Bob McKillop now coaches them and they return three starters from a team that was 16-16 last season and missed post-season play. They have a long history against WVU with the Mountaineers holding an 18-16 advantage.

“They will try to make it a half court game,” WVU Coach Bob Huggins predicted. “Their big people get out and run well. They will pack it in and make sure we make perimeter shots. They run good offense. They pass the ball well and a very unselfish.”

And it’s been a tradition at Davidson that they can shoot, something WVU did quite well in its opener, hitting 12 3s and shooting 50 percent from the floor.

As for the women, Miles return gives them the veteran leader they need at the point.

“I told her Saturday, ‘You’ve been cleared. You’re going full speed here,’” Coach Mike Carey said.

“It feels good,” Miles said. “There’s really no pain. It’s real stiff, but other than that it feels fine. No pain at all.”

Miles was Defensive Player of the Year in the Big East as a junior and a second-team all-conference selection. She sat out the first game as true freshman Brooke Hampton filled in admirably.

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