Freshmen players providing early spark for WVU
Published: Wednesday, November 14, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, November 14, 2012 00:11
When West Virginia women’s basketball head coach Mike Carey put together yet another nationally ranked recruiting class, he knew he was adding some serious talent that would make an impact for years to come in Morgantown.
What he might not have known at the time, however, was how quickly that impact would be made.
After a preseason knee injury sidelined senior center Asya Bussie for the season, the Mountaineers were forced to adjust their personnel, which meant some of those
freshmen would be expected to contribute immediately.
So far, three of the five incoming freshmen have shown sparks of promise for No. 14 West Virginia, impressing both Carey and the rest of the team in the process.
Guards Bria Holmes and Darius Faulk, as well as forward Jennie Simms, have drawn praise from teammates, and following the Mountaineers’ 76-47 drubbing of UNC Wilmington in the season opener last Friday, Carey again said he believes in the trio’s competence on the hardwood.
"You can talk about all three of (them), and I’ll tell you what – sometimes it didn’t show tonight, but they can play," he said. "I see it in practice and I see them go against the guys night in and night out, and they can play."
Holmes, a native of New Haven, Conn., is tied for fourth on the team in scoring (6.5 ppg) and has seen significant court time, averaging more than 15 minutes per game.
Redshirt junior guard Christal Caldwell commended Holmes for her play, noting that despite the newcomers’ nervousness, the freshmen have played quite well.
"They were nervous; they actually told us they were nervous, but I thought they went out there and did really well," she said.
"Bria Holmes – I thought she did well offensively, and (the freshmen) just have to keep working; I think they have the right attitude, and they’re great players so I think they’ll be fine."
Junior guard Taylor Palmer was once a freshman, too; she said having gone through those same feelings of nervousness and anxiety has helped her to offer helpful advice to the young players.
"I know exactly how they feel – the fans, the environment, playing college basketball, it’s just overwhelming, so I definitely understand where they’re coming from," she said.
"I just try to tell them to take their time; it’s going to come. Don’t try to force it too much. They want to play, and they just want to do so well, but they have to understand that there are so many more aspects to playing the game besides scoring – like defense and helping the team and getting in help (defense), you know, stuff like that – so I just try to tell them to let the game come to them and be patient," she said.
Despite limited court time, the trio has averaged a combined 9.5 points and six rebounds per game this season, but that doesn’t include contributions on defense.
Redshirt senior center Ayana Dunning said Faulk is a particularly good defender, and all of the freshmen have displayed great effort thus far, which is something she said is critical to their development.
"I think they have some great potential; I know Darius is a really good on the ball defender and when she gets on the ball and gets a couple of steals and gets up and starts playing really intense, she gets the whole team up and that leads to steals and quick offense for us," she said.
"I think all of the freshmen are so intense, and they’re just so eager to play. They’re just so energetic and they go out there and play hard which is a good thing. The offensive execution will come … they’ll be fine as long as they’re going out there and playing hard," she said.