Column - Carey, Mountaineers exceeded expectations in 2012
Published: Friday, March 23, 2012
Updated: Friday, March 23, 2012 10:03
Much like a car running out of gas, the West Virginia women’s basketball team saw its season come to a sputtering conclusion Monday night in a 72-55 loss to top seed Stanford in the second round of the NCAA tournament.
The Mountaineers fought hard and gave Stanford a fight for the first several minutes of the game, but once the Cardinal settled down, it became evident that head coach Mike Carey’s bunch had met the end of the road.
After letting the depressing fact that basketball won’t be coming back to campus for another eight months sink in, I took a moment to look back and reflect on the tremendous season this team was able to accomplish.
It’s sometimes difficult to find a theme that defines a team’s season as a whole – with a myriad of storylines, ups and downs and victories and defeats, it’s oftentimes not the easiest task to assign a specific theme to a 34-game season.
However, when I took a moment to think about it, it wasn’t at all tough to find a central theme to assign to this season’s team.
Essentially, I was able to sum it up in one word: Expectations.
In life, it is human nature for us to naturally form expectations on a daily basis, ranging from inconsequential topics to substantial issues.
When I wake up in the morning, I have expectations about how my Captain Crunch will taste, as well as how I expect the economy to perform when I prepare to enter the job market.
As a finance major, for example, I am familiar with how expectations about the quarterly results of a company can influence the price of a stock.
Analysts will assign a range of expected values for a company’s performance, and a stock can meet, beat or fall short of those expectations – typically leading to a stay, increase or decrease in the stock’s market price, respectively.
In the case of West Virginia, the analysts were the Big East coaches, and the expectations were a No. 9 finish in the conference standings.
In fact, there weren’t many people who expected West Virginia to even achieve that position – after all, this team possessed only one senior and lost approximately three-fourths of its scoring output from a season ago.
Now, four months and 24 wins later, it is apparent that the Mountaineers were seriously undervalued and greatly outperformed any expectations that had been set for them.
This season’s win total is tied for the fourth-best in school history and includes a program-defining win at then-No. 2 Notre Dame, a Big East Conference tournament semifinal appearance and a No. 8 seed in the NCAA tournament.
For the entirety of the year, it was clear that no one affiliated with the program was discouraged by the middle-of-the-pack expectations that were cast upon it at the beginning of the season.
Junior center Asya Bussie and redshirt junior forward Ayana Dunning regularly referred to how they believed the prediction for a No. 9 finish in conference play was too low.
There was an expectation among the team to beat that prediction and prove this wasn’t a rebuilding year, but instead a revitalizing year.
And my, was it ever.
With only senior center Natalie Burton departing and a top-notch recruiting class headed to Morgantown, there is no doubt that next year, the expectations will be greater.
A move to the Big 12 and the retainment of the core nucleus of the team is sure to evoke sky-high expectations for next year.
After watching this year’s team, the only question I have is if those improved
expectations will still be too low.