Home away from home
Published: Friday, March 1, 2013
Updated: Friday, March 1, 2013 08:03
The West Virginia women’s basketball team has struggled at home this season. This is surprising considering how well West Virginia teams as a whole – especially those that play in the Coliseum – fare when suiting up in Morgantown.
For that reason I expect West Virginia to fall short in its upset bid of top-ranked Baylor Saturday.
Ok, not really. They’re going to lose, because Baylor is a powerhouse that no team can derail, at least not until the Women’s Final Four in New Orleans. Even then I’d be surprised.
But enough fawning over the Bears; we already know how good they are. In the last matchup, Baylor cruised to a comfortable 76-58 win, and senior center Brittany Griner was one block shy of a triple-double.
Though West Virginia did miss nearly as many free-throws (17) as points it lost by (18) in the mid-January matchup, I’d expect Baylor would have won by even more had it kept its starters in the entire game.
So, we could see a better showing out of the Mountaineers, and putting up a nice fight against the nations’ No. 1 team could go a long way in boosting confidence as the calendar turns to March and postseason play gets under way.
One positive aspect of playing in the postseason for West Virginia is playing away from home.
Sounds strange, right?
For whatever reason the Mountaineers have come out flat in at least half of the games they’ve played at the Coliseum this season. The most recent example, Monday night against Kansas State, saw the Wildcats take an 8-point lead into the locker room and a single player already tallied 20 points.
Bad news at the time, but ultimately Carey’s crew would pull it out and secure the win.
If West Virginia starts the way it did against Kansas State, forget about seeing much of the country’s most intriguing women’s basketball player. Miss Griner will be solidified firmly on the bench for potentially the entire second half depending on what brand of ball West Virginia decides to play with at the start of the game.
On the road, though, the Mountaineers have exceeded expectations – Big 12 travel problems be darned.
Road wins over ranked opponents are difficult to come by in any conference, but this holds even more true in the Big 12. West Virginia knocked off Oklahoma State and Iowa State in hostile road environments and also picked up wins at Kansas, TCU and Kansas State.
Those wins are indicative of how well West Virginia copes with stress on the road and rises to the challenge of the moment.
The Mountaineers hope this same trend will continue during the final game of the regular season (at Texas March 5) and into the postseason, regardless of what happens Saturday against No. 1 Baylor.