By Bob Hertzel
Times West Virginian
The game had been over for 20 minutes and Marshall head coach George Porcha had come, spoken to the media and disappeared back into his locker room, where he was pleased with the fact that there were some tears after this loss, a sign that this team he had just taken over this year was starting to show it cared and play with emotion.
Only then did Mike Carey emerge from the victorious West Virginia locker room. There were tears in his locker room — or should have been, for if you think he had spent that long post-game session praising his team on its fine effort in winning 64-48, forget it.
He was ticked off.
Not mildly ticked off, completely and thoroughly.
In truth, he was mad at just about everyone in that locker room, save for freshman Bria Holmes, who actually turned the game around and saved it for Carey while scoring 15 points, and Crystal Leary, who hit four of her five field goals, four of her five free throws, grabbed off a game-high 11 rebounds, tossed in a couple of assists and stole the ball five times, one less time than the entire Marshall team could steal the ball.
Those, said Carey, were the two players who played hard.
“I told them, ‘You can be mad at me because I’m mad at you. Two days from now we can kiss and make up, but I’m mad now. I don’t like to be embarrassed,’” he said.
He wasn’t mad that they turned the ball over 20 times and he wasn’t mad that they gave up 28 points in the paint.
He was mad because his team played like it was sleepwalking for most of the night, perhaps a result of losing its point guard, Linda Stepney, to an injury in warmups that limited her to two minutes or because center YaYa Dunning could play only 16 minutes due to foul trouble.
Since she scored 13 and had six rebounds in those 16 minutes, he knew she could have had a huge night.
But that wasn’t it.
See, Porcha was able to say, “I was happy with the fight in us.”
All Carey could say was:
“We didn’t play hard. I told them I was embarrassed, totally embarrassed.”
It bothered him so much because his team had really been good in upsetting Virginia on the road just two days earlier.
“It’s just amazing, against Virginia, couldn’t get a shot off. They had great talent,” he said. “I’ll take the blame. I didn’t have us ready. You can bet your a-- I’ll have them ready for the next game.”
The way it started it looked like it was going to be easy, WVU jumping to a 14-2 lead, Marshall turning the ball over almost every time down the court as it began mounting up what would become 26 turnovers.
Then, next thing you know, WVU can’t do anything right, sloppy, bad, listless play and it’s 18-17 and Marshall is full of zip until Holmes takes charge. She hits a traditional, but hardly easy, three-point play and then closes out the half with two 3s and a two, outscoring Marshall alone, 13-6, to put WVU in control at the half, 35-23.
But the rest of the way it’s a struggle, WVU outscoring the Herd just 29-25 in the second half and Carey burning inside.
“A college coach shouldn’t have to tell a college player to play hard,” Carey said. “I spent the whole time in a timeout telling them they were not playing hard.”
And then it was over and Carey at least had the victory, to make his team 5-2.
He had something else, too ... a two-hour-plus bus ride back home to continue to make his point to his players who play St. Bonaventure next, a team that upset them, 56-48, last year.
Email Bob Hertzel at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @bhertzel.