West Virginia women’s basketball is off to a 3-0 start for the season, and their undefeated stretch has already earned them some recognition.
For the first time since November 2018, the Mountaineers are back in the top 25, sitting on the edge as the No. 25 team in the nation. If you ask Coach Mike Carey, his team absolutely deserves to be in that position.
“I think the players we have returning and the players we have here, we are a top-25 team,” he said. “And that’s not bragging, you know, I just think we deserve to be there.”
That number next to WVU’s name won’t help the team win games, of course, and Carey recognizes that.
“Now, do we stay in it? That’s up to us,” he added. “We have to win, we have to continue to get better, you know, and you have to be a little bit lucky.”
Carey is also quick to add that the season is still young with 26 games left in the regular season.
Still, his squad is undefeated after their recent trip to Beckley, and they have the shot to keep that distinction alive when they return home to host Coppin State. The Eagles are currently 0-4 on the year and are coming off a loss to Marshall.
“[They’re] very athletic. They’ve got a bunch of guards that just drive,” Carey said. “My biggest concern is staying out of foul trouble because they’re going to just put their head down and drive.”
Foul trouble has been an issue for WVU at times, especially in their Nov. 11 victory over Presbyterian. In that contest, Kari Niblack became the first Mountaineer to foul out this season, while Blessing Ejiofor and Rochelle Norris both committed 4 fouls. Niblack leads the team with 11 personal fouls.
That threat is somewhat lessened now with the reintroduction of Naismith Trophy candidate Tynice Martin after she was reinstated from suspension. She made her season debut in Beckley against Radford, chipping in 6 points and a rebound in 19 minutes.
“We’re very excited to have her back. You know, it’s gonna take her a while to get back in the swing of stuff, but she’ll do it,” Carey said. “She’s a great athlete and very smart, intelligent in basketball, so it won’t take her that long to get back into it.”
In the three games to start the season, Kysre Gondresick has brought the scoring motor for the Mountaineers, dropping 22 points per outing.
But for Carey, the most impressive aspect his team has shown comes on the other end.
“[There were] still some mistakes on rotations, but I thought overall we played pretty hard defense [vs. Radford],” Carey said. “Offensively, I thought our break was a little bit better…and then there are still some people not running our quick-hitters the right way, and timing and all that stuff. So, it’s still early in the season. We’ll continue to get better just as every other team in the country will get better as the season goes on.”
The Mountaineers tip off against the Eagles on Thursday at 10 a.m. The game will be the team’s second annual Education Day, and students from area middle and elementary schools will be in attendance.