The Bottom Line
By Bill Nestor
The West Virginia University Women’s team ended the season with a heartbreaking 62-60 loss to UCLA in the WNIT Championship in Charleston. The Mountaineers held a 49-43 lead with 7:22 left in the contest but couldn’t overcome a Bruin rally that ended their campaign.
The regular season was not what veteran mentor and Clarksburg native, Mike Carey had hoped for. An 18-14 mark (7-11 in Big 12 play) kept his girls out of the NCAA Tournament. However, a WNIT bid kept the season alive and the Mounties reeled off five consecutive home wins in the post season.
Carey will lose Linda, Stepney, Crystal Leary, and Averee Fields to graduation but the returners gained more court time and some much needed confidence as they move into the next phase of their careers. The three above-mentioned seniors will be missed from not just a numbers standpoint, but from the leadership aspect as well.
The squads leading scorer Bria Holmes (18.8) and rebounder Laney Montgomery (7.7) return in 2015-2016.
A pair of streaks started this campaign for WVU. A 9-1 start was followed by a rough patch where the Mountaineers would lose five of their next six matchups. Road wins in the Big 12 Conference are hard to come by and a 2-10 record away from home was a thorn in this team’s side. However, dominance at the Coliseum was displayed by a 19-4 mark in Morgantown.
A five-year streak of competing in the NCAA tournament was snapped this year. Despite the frustration of the snub put forth, this team pressed forward to earn 23 wins. It was the sixth highest total of victories for Carey in his fourteen years at the helm of the program. Carey has taken his squad to postseason play in eleven of those years missing out on extra opportunities only three times with two of those coming in his first two seasons in Morgantown.
Carey has nine 21 plus win seasons and has never had a losing record at the University. The end result is that Carey has been one of the most consistent winners in the entire country.
There have been several quality coaches to come out of Harrison County and Carey has to be one of the toppers. I’ve always been a big fan, dating back to his days at Salem College. He had built a powerhouse there and his teams were always exciting to watch (sound familiar Mountaineer fans?). He would always take the time to talk with fans about his players and his program. He would also speak with a sense of reality that let you know that if he spoke it, he meant it. There was never a watered down version or an embellishment on his part. It was a refreshing approach that he still prescribes to today. He didn’t like to lose back then and his still doesn’t now. With that being said I’m sure that next season will be even more fruitful than this past one.
Carey has also been fortunate to have Toni Kay Oliverio on board as the Director of Basketball Operations. Oliverio is a former standout at Notre Dame High School and has been a valuable addition to the program since her arrival five years ago.
The future is bright for the woman’s basketball program because attitude reflects leadership and there is plenty of that to go around this program.