WVU embraces difficult NCAA tournament - The Daily Athenaeum: Sports

WVU embraces difficult NCAA tournament

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Posted: Tuesday, March 25, 2014 7:26 am

The 2-seed West Virginia women’s basketball team will have their work cut out for them in the NCAA tournament.

After cruising past Albany 76-61 Sunday afternoon in their opening game of the tournament, despite a second-half surge from the Great Danes, the Mountaineers looked poised in their quest for a strong postseason.    

Led by guards Christal Caldwell and Bria Holmes, WVU looked aggressive on both sides of the ball. It took advantage of 15 missed free throws from Albany. The Mountaineers’ path to the history books will only get tougher from here on out, however.

West Virginia will see 7-seed LSU in the next round. If the Mountaineers can get past the Tigers in Baton Rouge, La., they can see 3-seed Louisville in the Sweet Sixteen. If

West Virginia can get past the Cardinals, it could see the 1-seed Tennessee Lady Volunteers in the Elite Eight.

While WVU’s schedule may be one of the hardest of all the top seeds in this year’s NCAA tournament, the resiliency of this group has been one worth praising all season. While the task appears difficult, you simply can’t write off West Virginia based on this year’s results.

With Sunday’s win over Albany, West Virginia set a program record with its 30th win of the season. The Mountaineers’ success this season is in large part due to the team’s chemistry and the underrated head coaching job of Mike Carey.

Under Carey, WVU has become a deep threat in the NCAA tournament. While Sunday’s performance saw a little bit of a scare for Mountaineer fans in the second half, Carey was able to get his players to regroup and focus on finishing the game out. And West Virginia was able to do just that.

That is the mark of a mature squad. The

Mountaineers will now have their hands full with an LSU squad that nearly scored 100 points against Georgia Tech to advance. It will be another challenge for West Virginia, especially with the Mountaineers having to play in the opponent’s playground, so to speak.

All season, I’ve been impressed with the play of the guards. While Caldwell and Holmes have been leaders for West Virginia offensively, along with senior center Asya Bussie, the Mountaineers have used their strong defense to create offense.

In all honesty, this whole journey has been a remarkable thing to watch. I’ve been impressed with how aggressive West Virginia has been all season, and I feel like the results which have come along the way are due to this group’s belief in just how sound they are.

With what the Mountaineers have accomplished up to this point, it’s safe to say the season has been a success. West Virginia winning a share of the Big 12 Conference regular season title, along with beating the likes of a dominant power in women’s basketball in Baylor, says wonders about how far this team has come. West Virginia believes in its skill set and how it can beat any team in the country on a good day.

I’ve been sold on this group for a few weeks now. The journey is not over, however. WVU could have a long way to go before this season is in the past.

For now, let’s just enjoy this ride and see where it takes us. After all, this season could be one we’re all talking about for years to come.

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