Mountaineer women face tough road in Big 12 Conference play
Published: Tuesday, January 15, 2013
Updated: Tuesday, January 15, 2013 00:01
If there is one thing the West Virginia women’s basketball team has learned thus far, it’s that Big 12 Conference play is going to be tough.
Yes, I know the Mountaineers were part of one of the nation’s strongest conferences in the Big East for many years, but the Big 12 is no joke either.
WVU had two very close games to begin conference play with Oklahoma and Kansas.
Then, West Virginia defeated Texas and Kansas State and improved to .500 in conference play. WVU’s biggest win came against the Wildcats with a score of 66-52. Still, the Mountaineers needed a 15-2 run to end the
game and earn a 14-point victory.
So, in those four games, WVU could very well have gone 4-0 or 0-4 to start Big 12 play. It doesn’t come easy when the Mountaineers face ranked teams in nearly every game. Kansas, Oklahoma, Baylor, Oklahoma State and Iowa State are all ranked teams.
So when West Virginia faces top-ranked Baylor this weekend, it will need to learn how to finish some of these tough games.
In the 1-point loss against the Jayhawks, the Mountaineers once led by 13.
I see that the Mountaineers can compete with any team in the country when they are playing their style of basketball. You saw it last year when West Virginia shocked Notre Dame in South Bend. At the time, the Irish were No. 2 in the nation.
My point is, WVU won that game by rallying and winning in the final stages. Head coach Mike Carey has always been about playing a physical style of defense and getting a lot of transition points.
In the past two games, WVU has done just that. Defeating Baylor on the road is no easy task, but West Virginia is capable of making it competitive and has the ability to give the Bears some trouble.
The Mountaineers have the depth to make a run in either the Big 12 Tournament or the NCAA Tournament. Through the leadership of junior guards Christal Caldwell, Taylor Palmer and senior center Ayana Dunning, West Virginia has the weapons to make a deep run.
Once WVU gains consistency in closing out some of these conference games, I believe teams like Baylor, Connecticut, Stanford, Duke and Notre Dame will not want to see West Virginia on its side of the NCAA Tournament bracket.
West Virginia is easily a top-25 team when they are playing aggressively on defense and nailing the jumpers while also getting the transition points. West Virginia is a balanced team.
While WVU is 0-2 against AP top-25 teams and had three tough losses against Duquesne, Iowa and LSU, the Mountaineers have taken care of business for the most part.
Through the first few games of conference play, I’ve learned how competitive the Big 12 will be this year for West Virginia. It’s nothing WVU hasn’t seen against Big East teams, but with the extra travel and having to guard players like Brittney Griner, the Big 12 will present its fair share of adversity for the Mountaineers.
It’s still difficult to really put a finger on how this season will end up for this team. There is a lot of potential, but it can also be a disappointing season.
If WVU can hold on to the leads at the end of games, I can definitely see a promising season in the works.