Column - WVU must improve quickly
Published: Sunday, December 11, 2011
Updated: Sunday, December 11, 2011 23:12
By looking at the score of the West Virginia women's basketball game against North Florida, a game which the team won by 56 points, you might think head coach Mike Carey and his team have everything figured out by now.
You'd be wrong.
The fact of the matter is, this team is still making a lot of mistakes. Because it's still so early in the season, it just so happens the mistakes have been coming against teams like North Florida – teams that are not good enough to capitalize and make a comeback run against the Mountaineers.
Carey admitted after the game Saturday that his team started "playing for the score" instead of just playing their game of basketball in the second half. They got lazy on defense and turned the ball over too much on the offensive end.
"They haven't been through it enough to understand we need to get better in certain areas," Carey said of his team. "They start playing the score and doing things defensively and offensively that they shouldn't be doing because we are up 30 or 40 points. That was a great opportunity for us to get better and we really didn't get much better that second half."
The Mountaineers go on the road in less than a month for their first Big East game against No. 2 Connecticut. I wish them luck if they will be turning the ball over 17 times (like they did against UNF) against UConn and expecting to be anywhere close by the time the game is over.
I'm not saying they have to be perfect; not even Connecticut can do that, usually. But, the freshmen and sophomores on this team are going to have to listen to every word Mike Carey says during the next month and improve dramatically so they can be more competitive in Big East play this season.
One thing West Virginia does seem to have is good chemistry with each other. They get along off the court and that will certainly carry onto the hardwood floor as the season progresses. The team knows it has a lot of work to do and is preparing everyday to get where it wants to be.
WVU's defensive strategy isn't all that bothersome, because Carey has always gotten on his players about communicating every play on defense. It's all about working as a unit and knowing where everyone needs to be and who to guard.
The offensive decision-making of these young players is what has been worrying me so far. The team will get on a three-on-two or two-on-one fast break and either not pass to the open man, or try to shoot or dribble past a defender and turn the ball over.
There's no question – it's not easy to make quick decisions in live-game situations, but that's part of playing the game. The young players have to find a way to limit the mistakes and try to make the right decisions for the majority of the time. If they can do that, the season will not be as much of a roller coaster as Carey has said it's going to be.
Thankfully, the Mountaineers have an off week to work out some of the kinks in their game, and prepare for a good Duquesne team that brings back several of its players from last year.
This week is critical to the team's success over the next few games. They need to take advantage of every practice and every opportunity to improve for the rest of the season.
This year will be a great learning experience for everyone on the team, and if they can move a few steps forward in the process, WVU will have a bright future in the coming years.