The Times West Virginian

WVU Sports

January 5, 2011

WVU women visit Seton Hall

MORGANTOWN — Mike Carey, the coach of West Virginia University’s sixth-ranked Mountaineers women’s basketball team, has seen his team sleepwalk through the first half of its past two games as if the players had just gotten out of bed.

That worries him today when the Mountaineers go to Seton Hall.

“What is it, 8 in the morning?” Carey asked of the starting time at Seton Hall after the ugly performance against Central Connecticut State gave WVU a 14-0 start.

In reality, the game begins at 12:30 p.m. in what was designated as Kid’s Day, but Carey now says that something fell through and the expected children won’t be there, meaning a terribly sparse crowd at such a time.

One thing is for sure. WVU has historically had problems at Seton Hall, winning 3 and losing 6 in Walsh Gymnasium, and trails in the series between the two teams 12 victories to 10. Carey has won only four of 10 games against Seton Hall.

“The women play on campus. It’s a little gym with a stage on one end of it like you have in junior high school or high school,” Carey explained.

On paper, you would not worry much about Seton Hall. A year ago the Pirates were 9-21 and scored only 31 points in a loss to WVU, one of their 15 Big East losses en route to a 1-15 season.

That caused Seton Hall to make a coaching change and they brought in one of the legendary figures in women’s basketball as coach, Anne Donovan, a pioneer in the game who grew up not far from the Seton Hall campus in Ridgewood, N.J.

Donovan was one of the most widely recruited players out of high school, following in Nancy Lieberman’s footsteps to Old Dominion where she helped the Monarchs win a national title while averaging a double-double during her career.

Donovan has got the Pirates in at 7-7 heading into this game but the way Carey looks at it, it isn’t about her or the tiny gym or the screaming kids. He has to get his team right for it has won while not playing anywhere near up to expectations.

“We better wake up,” he said after Central Connecticut game. “This is two games in a row we played uninspired, didn’t play hard, didn’t move the ball. I’m glad we’re starting league play, honestly I am. We need to start Big East play. Maybe what we need is to get our butt beat a couple of times. Maybe that will wake some of these people up.”

While that may be a rather harsh way to look at it, Carey does have problems. The team is not shooting well, not executing and it isn’t getting better as point guard Sarah Miles, a senior leader, tries to play herself back into shape after missing seven games with a knee injury.

“With Sarah in there our execution is not good,” Carey said. “Sarah is a great player and it’s my job to get her ready. We have just not been able to practice her hard because of her knee.”

Getting back to start a home game was an important step for Miles before Big East play.

“I was just thinking, ‘I haven’t seen this carpet in a long time,’” she said.

Offensively, she seemed stale, but she did do a solid job defensively, recording nine steals.

“My main focus is my defense,” Miles said. “My lateral movement, I feel like I’m standing still instead of going side to side. I need to get back in the flow of the offense with my timing.”

Right now freshman Brooke Hampton has been a savior, being able to move in right out of high school and run the offense at a high level in Miles absence and give her time to heal.

But now it’s Big East play and that’s when you need your veterans to take control.

“They got to get hungry again,” Carey said. “They got to get motivated. Maybe if we start playing some Big East teams they’ll get hungry.”

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

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