No. 17 Mountaineers ready to kick off 2012-2013 campaign with ‘Haunted Hoops’
Published: Tuesday, October 30, 2012
Updated: Tuesday, October 30, 2012 08:10
The No. 17 West Virginia women’s basketball team opens its 2012-13 campaign against Alderson-Broaddus in a special Halloween edition exhibition game tonight.
The Haunted Hoops game, which had been originally scheduled against Concord, will be the first look WVU fans get at the much-anticipated women’s team.
The Mountaineers know the task is daunting without star center Asya Bussie in the lineup because of an injury that occurred pre-season.
The Mountaineers are coming off of a 24-10 (11-5 Big East) record last season. West Virginia posted a 14-3 record at the Coliseum.
With the loss of Bussie, junior guard Christal Caldwell will look to lead West Virginia into another NCAA tournament appearance.
Caldwell was second on the team in points a year ago with an average of 10.8 per contest. She recorded double-figure scoring numbers in 16 consecutive games and 19 for the season.
The junior also averaged 5.7 rebounds per game and led the Mountaineers in scoring in conference games with 13.9 points per game.
WVU will be going into the Big 12 Conference for the first time this season – a conference that has sent 70 percent of its members into the postseason in past years.
"First of all, this is going to be a learning year for us, for myself and our coaching staff, plus our players," said head coach Mike Carey at Big 12 Media Day. "I know we’re coming into a great conference.
From top to bottom, it’s the No. 1 RPI league in the country. We understand they won the national championship the last two years."
With the crucial loss of a star player, there is always the hope that teammates will step up. For West Virginia, this is the emphasis with some powerhouse opponents such as Baylor this season.
"It’s never a good time to have a player go down," Carey said. "Asya Bussie was our leading shot blocker, second leading rebounder and gave us size. But she went down in the second day of practice, and it’s never good for that to happen.
"But at least it happened early, and the players have been able to respond and learn new roles, where a lot of times we counted on Asya to do a lot of things and now somebody else has to pick that up."
With the loss of Bussie, the Mountaineers lose size at the position and the ability to get as many rebounds. In a very size-friendly conference such as the Big 12, losing those elements are tough, but West Virginia will look for extra help from players such as center Ayana Dunning.
Dunning, a senior out of Columbus, Ohio, looks to fill in a larger role this season with Bussie injured. Last season, Dunning led the Mountaineers with 8.4 rebounds per game – good for fifth in the
Big East Conference. Dunning had an alarming 17 rebounds against South Florida last season. She also had 10 outings with double-figure rebounds.
The Alderson-Broaddus Battlers will be looking to play WVU as a very good opportunity for its program. Last season, Alderson-Broaddus was 6-21 overall.
Leading the Battlers this season will be a Morgantown native herself in senior Amanda Peoples. Peoples is coming off an average of 12.0 points, 8.5 rebounds and one steal per game last season.