Put on your dancing shoes, Mountaineers
Published: Tuesday, March 19, 2013
Updated: Tuesday, March 19, 2013 06:03
The "Physical for Forty" road tour looked to be in jeopardy of not fulfilling the late-March portion of its schedule, but don’t fret, Mountaineer fans.
West Virginia is dancing again.
Head coach Mike Carey has now reached the big bracket in six of the past seven seasons, and this is the Mountaineers’ fourth-consecutive NCAA Tournament appearance.
It wasn’t an easy process, but West Virginia was able to sneak into the tournament as an 11-seed in the Newark region, where it will face sixth-seeded Delaware, a 30-win team that will be playing on its home court.
Tough draw, for sure.
A win could potentially lead to a second-round matchup with third-seeded North Carolina, and a Sweet Sixteen appearance might pit the Mountaineers against second-seeded Kentucky. A run to the Elite Eight could match West Virginia against the region’s top-seed and a familiar foe in Connecticut.
But let’s not get ahead of ourselves in projecting the team’s success in the tournament just yet. First, let’s appreciate how special this moment is.
Save a national championship winning season from the WVU rifle team, it has been a rough year for Mountaineer sports across the board. Chalk it up to realignment, travel problems, new opponents, poor coaching – whatever – but ultimately everyone can agree that in the aggregate, expectations were not met in Morgantown.
With a forgettable season by the men’s basketball team sucking up most of the attention, the women’s hoops squad quietly put together a solid season and now will have the opportunity to wreck some havoc in the NCAA Tournament.
How did they do it?
You can’t say enough about Carey, who is hands down one of the most talented, successful coaches on campus. Not only has Carey found success, he has proved it to be sustainable through his recruiting prowess and ability to overcome unexpected adversity.
As if a conference switch wasn’t enough, Carey lost his team’s best player, junior center Asya Bussie, on the first day of practice, but still was able notch a .500 record in conference play, win a number of memorable games against ranked opponents on the road and earn a fourth-straight NCAA Tournament bid.
And this team is young; with redshirt senior Ayana Dunning serving as the team’s only departing member, regardless of what happens this year, you can bet the Mountaineers will be back even stronger next season.
But let’s enjoy the here and now – starting with a tremendous first-round matchup with the Fighting Blue Hens.
Delaware, the Colonial Athletic Association’s regular season and conference tournament champions, hasn’t lost a game since Dec. 20 and features one of the nation’s premier players in 6-foot-5 forward Elena Delle Donne.
One of the best parts about the NCAA Tournament is getting exposure to teams you otherwise wouldn’t see, and this is certainly the case regarding the Mountaineers’ matchup with Delaware.
Last season, West Virginia met then-future Big 12 Conference member Texas in the first round, which provided an interesting storyline and precursor to this season. I think this matchup
might be even better, though.
Delaware is an exciting team to watch and will put on a nice show for the casual observer. West Virginia will no doubt be primed for the occasion, and you can take heed in the fact the Mountaineers have won their first-round game in each of the last five NCAA Tournaments they have appeared in.
There’s no telling what will happen during the tournament, but the fact the Carey and the Mountaineers were able to find a way to overcome all the adversity they faced and make their way to the postseason is an impressive feat and one that should be applauded.
Regardless if they win or lose, the women’s basketball team has given Morgantown a reason to dance again – and dancing has been at a premium around here lately.