Carey excited for new era next year
Published: Tuesday, March 29, 2011
Updated: Tuesday, March 29, 2011 23:03
The West Virginia women's basketball team's loss to Baylor in the second round of the NCAA
Tournament didn't just end its season.
It also ended an era.
The Mountaineers will graduate five seniors from this year's team and will return just 33 percent of their scoring next year.
"You're losing five seniors that have been very successful and have done a great job at WVU," said West Virginia head coach Mike Carey. "We have to form a new identity and decide what the next team is going to be. It's exciting."
Senior guard Liz Repella, who has said she would like to play in the WNBA, finished her West Virginia career with a season-high 29 points against Baylor. The Steubenville, Ohio, native ended her career ranked No. 7 on the all-time scoring list with 1,641 points.
Point guard Sarah Miles, the only other graduating senior who has been at West Virginia for four years, ended her career ranked eighth in the all-time records with 422 assists.
Forwards Madina Ali and Korinne Campbell and guard Vanessa House are the other three seniors, all of whom will graduate after transferring to West Virginia after starting their collegiate careers at other schools.
"All five of our seniors will be successful whether it's in basketball or out in the workforce, because they're good people," Carey said. "I know some of them want to go and play basketball. Do I think they can do it? Absolutely."
The group of five has won 96 games in its four years, including three trips to the NCAA Tournament. Despite a disappointing end of the season this year, the team saw its highest ranking in school history when it was ranked No. 6 after a 16-0 start. Last year, the Mountaineers went a perfect 17-0 at home, while setting a single-season record of wins with 29.
Carey said aside from the success on the court, it's the success off the court that will make the senior class memorable to him.
"They'll always have a home here," Carey said. "They've been such role models on and off the court."
The 10th-year head coach doesn't think his team will miss a beat next year, though, despite losing the five seniors. This year, three freshmen – Jessica Harlee, Brooke Hampton and Taylor Palmer – all received considerable playing time and got to experience the rigors of the Big East Conference.
Hampton filled in for the injured Miles and started nine games this season, but she appeared in 33. She started off her career with a season total of 65 assists to just 27 turnovers and led the team with a 43 percent 3-point field goal percentage.
Harlee and Palmer appeared in 32 games and 31 games, respectively. Coupled with a strong incoming recruiting class, Carey thinks it will be an exciting year.
"The summer after the freshman year is always the biggest summer," Carey said. "The most improvement is from year one to year two, because they know what it takes to get to the right level."
Because of the younger team, Carey said it will take more effort by the coaching staff in order to mold a successful team.
"It's going to be a lot of instruction, a lot of skill teaching, a lot of individual stuff. It's going to be a learning process," Carey said. "The (outgoing seniors) set a bar for this program.
"We want to be a top-20 program; we want to win a National Championship; we want to finish high in the Big East – that's the expectation of this program."