Column - Strong defense must continue for WVU
Published: Sunday, March 4, 2012
Updated: Monday, March 5, 2012 01:03
One of the oldest cliches in sports – "Defense wins championships" – is one I've never been a fan of.
Just don't like it. I don't know why, really.
I guess I always felt if a team had an offense that can't be stopped, why would it need an overpowering defense?
But, after watching a defensive clinic put on by the West Virginia women's basketball team in a 39-32 upset victory over No. 12 Georgetown in the quarterfinals of the Big East Conference tournament, I am now convinced – defense is far more important than offense.
The Mountaineers scored 39 points, missed 39 shots, made just 9-of-24 free-throw attempts and, despite all that, defeated the 12th best team in the country.
It was also the first time in program history the Mountaineers won a game while shooting less than 25 percent from the floor.
So, head coach Mike Carey's team played about as poorly as one could ever imagine on the offensive end but was still able to beat one of the best teams in the country on a neutral court.
Want to know what Carey's team did to the Hoyas?
Georgetown only had one player on the entire team make more than one field goal.
And that player, Sugar Rodgers, shot a measly 5-20 from the floor.
The Hoyas, as a team, finished the game shooting 10-68 and committed 16 turnovers.
Georgetown scored 64 points in the regular-season meeting with West Virginia but managed only half of that Sunday.
After the swarming defensive effort, the Mountaineers now find themselves in the semifinals of the Big East tournament.
West Virginia will face the No.1 seed in Notre Dame on Monday night.
The Mountaineers upset the second-ranked Irish in South Bend February 12 in arguably the biggest win in program history.
If Carey's team wants to repeat history, it will need to continue its defensive prowess. Obviously, it is impossible to think the Mountaineers can hold the high-powered Irish attack to 32 points.
Notre Dame is ranked first nationally in points per game with 81.
But, when West Virginia defeated the regular season champs last month, it held the Irish to their season low in points – 63.
In order to have a chance at the upset, this must happen again.
A win over Notre Dame will only happen if West Virginia is successful defensively, and would put the Mountaineers in the title game of the Big East tournament, where it would have a chance to try to use defense to win a championship.