#29 West Virginia Women's Basketball 2012-13 Preview

West Virginia Mountaineers

Overall Rank: #29
Conference Rank: #6 Big 12
West Virginia Women's College Basketball 2012-2013 Team Preivew
West Virginia Team Page


The initial foray into the Big 12 Conference is going to be an interesting one for the West Virginia Women’s Basketball program. They come into the conference with a lot of excitement and anticipation en-route to taking their best shot at the likes of defending champion Baylor and talented teams like Oklahoma, Iowa State, and other teams on the rise in Kansas and Oklahoma State. The Mountaineers are led by veteran Coach Mike Carey and a proven system of being able to lock teams down defensively. Thus, this Mountaineer squad should be a tough out for everyone in the conference this season.

2011-12 Record: 24-10, 11-5
2011-12 Postseason: NCAA
Coach: Mike Carey
Coach Record: 227-127, at West Virginia, 515- 229 overall

The ability to defend the basketball has always been a staple under Head Coach Mike Carey. In 2011-12, the Mountaineers limited opponents to 52 points per game and just under 33 percent shooting from the field. In the backcourt juniors Christal Caldwell and Taylor Palmer both averaged in double-figures a year ago and will be counted on even more to carry the scoring load to keep defenses from packing it in and daring West Virginia to beat them from the perimeter. Sophomores Jess Harlee and Linda Stepney bring valuable experience from their freshman seasons and that should help the process of scoring the basketball at a more explosive clip for the Mountaineer squad in 2012-13.

With Asya Bussie going down with a season ending knee injury in practice last Thursday, West Virginia now has the huge task to replace the veteran’s inside post presence in a league that has the nearly unstoppable Brittney Griner and other talented post players. Finding rebounding and defense to replace the 6.6 rebounds and 73 block shots that Bussie had in 2011-12 is going to be a huge catalyst in the Mountaineers ability to compete at a high level in the Big 12 in 2012-13. Senior Ayana Dunning should slide into Bussie’s role. She started in 20 games in 2011-12 and averaged over eight rebounds, playing just over 22 minutes a game. Those numbers should jump up nicely with the extended playing time

Final Projection:
The Mountaineers come into the Big 12 in year one with a mission to prove they can run with the likes of Baylor, Oklahoma, and Iowa State. The stage of playing in these types of conference games should not bother this squad as West Virginia has had plenty of practice taking on the likes of UConn, Notre Dame and many others in the rugged Big East.  The interesting thing to see as well will be how the Mountaineers respond to the extended travel of their new conference as part of the round-robin scheduling format in the Big 12. There are going to be plenty of long plane trips to the states of Texas and Oklahoma and it will be interesting to see if there is any effect at all on the road. Overall, in the end, this should be another NCAA Tourney team in Morgantown for Coach Carey even with the loss of Bussie. It won’t be easy and it will take some tweaking in their style of play, but they should be able to grind out another postseason berth in 2012-13.

Projected Postseason Tournament: NCAA

Projected Starting Five:
Christal Caldwell, Junior, Guard, 10.8 points per game
Taylor Palmer, Junior, Guard, 10.6 points per game
Linda Stepney, Sophomore, Guard, 4.4 points per game
Jess Harlee, Sophomore, Forward, 5.1 points per game
Ayana Dunning, Senior, Center, 8.3 points per game

Madness 2013 WNBA Draft Rankings:
#31 Asya Bussie

Madness 2012 Women’s Basketball Recruit Rankings:
#25 Bria Holmes
#58 Darius Faulk
#87 Jennie Simms