Column - WVU needs consistent Palmer to win
Published: Tuesday, January 10, 2012
Updated: Tuesday, January 10, 2012 23:01
In a nutshell, the first two games of 2012 sum up the season thus far for West Virginia women's basketball sophomore guard Taylor Palmer.
The Mount Vernon, N.Y., native scored 33 points in the Mountaineers' victorious home opener back in early November, then responded with a three-point effort in a loss to St. Bonaventure one week later.
It was then when West Virginia head coach Mike Carey told Palmer she needed to do one thing – keep shooting.
Now, 14 games later, the talented sharp shooter has failed to find much consistency and one thing is clear – West Virginia is a much better team when Palmer is on her game.
Yes, the Mountaineers defeated Seton Hall 79-63 on Tuesday night despite only seven points from Palmer.
But, in West Virginia's 12 wins this season, Palmer is averaging 15.1 points. Compare that to an average of just 8.7 points in its four losses.
If head coach Mike Carey's team wants to achieve its goal – compete for a Big East Championship – Palmer must find consistency on the offensive end of the floor.
Teams such as Connecticut, Notre Dame and DePaul have the inside presence to force West Virginia out of the paint. What will the Mountaineers need to do to counter that disadvantage?
Make outside shots.
Palmer was doing just that in the first 12 games of the season, while averaging 16.1 points per game. But she is only averaging 5.7 points per game in the last four outings.
The ability to make outside shots does more than put points on the scoreboard. It completely changes the strategy and mentality of opposing defenses.
It forced them to guard the perimeter aggressively, which opens up a lot of space in the paint for two of the better offensive centers in the Big East Conference – West Virginia's Asya Bussie (12.9 points per game) and Ayana Dunning (7.9 points per game).
Palmer was 3-10 from the floor in the victory over Villanova Tuesday.
So, I asked Bussie what Palmer needed to do to get back on track.
Bussie had a simple but familiar message for Palmer - "Just keep shooting."
Palmer will have a little bit of time to shoot before the Mountaineers face a brutal schedule in early
February that includes four straight games against ranked teams.
In those games, Palmer will need to do more than shoot if West Virginia wants to be successful.
She must make.