West Virginia women’s basketball head coach Mike Carey has led his Mountaineers to a 11-4 start to the 2018-2019 season, has compiled nearly 381 victories overall and led West Virginia to 10 NCAA tournament appearances since taking over at the helm of the program in 2001.
While Carey continues to earn a collection of achievements and hopes to lead his Mountaineers to their 11th NCAA tournament appearance, the Clarksburg, West Virginia native has found himself consistently struggling with one key issue: keeping his players healthy on and off the court.
After senior guard and team leader Katrina Pardee went down in the middle of Wednesday night’s defeat over Oklahoma State with an ankle injury, it marked the second year in a row in which a key starter of West Virginia’s lineup is sidelined for a significant amount of time.
Due to lack of players, Pardee’s injury causes an interesting situation for Carey. This is the second time this season the Mountaineers could only play eight players total.
“It seems like déjà vu. From now on I’ll tell you what, I’m signing fifteen players. Let’s get that straight right now,” Carey said after a 78-37 victory earlier this season in which he was without sophomore guard Kysre Gondrezick due to personal reasons.
Last season, junior guard Tynice Martin redshirted after injuring her foot at the USA Basketball U23 National Team Trials the August prior to her junior year. At the time, it was a huge blow for a Mountaineer team that relied on Martin’s team leading 18.6 average points per game in 2016-2017.
The year prior, in 2016, West Virginia had three different players miss the entire season due to ACL injuries. The lengthy injury chart that year included freshman guard Nia Staples, freshman forward Krystaline McCune and junior guard Aisha Edwards.
“This is my 16th year. It gets old. I can’t remember a season we went in with a full squad. It’s frustrating. It really is,” Carey explained in the 2016-2017 season.
Carey may be correct about coaching a West Virginia squad that seems to carry the injury bug with them every season he’s been at the school however that hasn’t slowed his team’s production and their overall success down one bit.
In 2016, the three key injuries didn’t faze the Mountaineers as Carey led his team to a 24-11 season and an appearance in the second round of the NCAA tournament.
However, West Virginia has never been able to extend their tournament run past the second round since Carey has served as head coach at WVU. The lack of experience that Carey’s teams hold in the tournament raises eyebrows and question marks as to if the injuries played roles in these early season ending departures.
As for now, Carey and the rest of his team will hope to get the senior guard, Pardee back on the court as soon as possible and avoid the injury bug for the first time in a long time.