The Dominion Post  

WVU’s Carey concerned about NCAA tourney bid

Created on:   Thu, Mar 1, 2018   9:35 PM

Last modified:   Thu, Mar 1, 2018   9:35 PM

The Dominion Post

MORGANTOWN — The WVU women’s basketball team enters the Big 12 tournament knowing it needs something positive in order to qualify for the NCAA tournament.

It happened a year ago, as the Mountain-eers pulled off upsets of Oklahoma, Texas and Baylor to win the tournament.

If it doesn’t happen again, WVU head coach Mike Carey said he would leave it up to his seniors whether the Mountaineers would continue on to the WNIT.

“If they really wanted to do it, we would do it,” Carey said. “If they didn’t want to do it, we wouldn’t, because you don’t have to go to the NIT. I would leave it up to the seniors.”

As it stands, the Mountaineers (20-10, 8-10 Big 12) are firmly on the NCAA tourney bubble, heading into their Big 12 quarterfinal game, against Oklahoma State (20-9, 11-7), at 9:30 p.m. March 3.

Both teams need a win in order to improve their chances at NCAA tournament selection.

In the Mountaineers’ case, they may need more than one win.

“If we win one, I don’t know if that’s enough,” Carey said. “We needed to be better at the end of the season, and we didn’t get it done. We dug a hole for ourselves. We may need one win. We may need two. We may need to win” the tournament.

The Mountaineers went 4-6 over their final 10 games of the regular season.

Oklahoma State swept WVU during the regular season, including a 79-69 victory in Morgantown, on Feb. 24, in which WVU held a 14-point lead midway through the second quarter.

If WVU is not selected for the NCAA tourney, there are pros and cons to playing in the WNIT.

Pros: It would lengthen the career of senior forward Teana Muldrow, who played in a postseason tournament during her first three seasons of eligibility.

Muldrow was named first-team all-Big 12 on Wednesday, and could become just the fourth WVU women’s player to reach 1,000 rebounds in a career — she’s at 919 — which would go along with the 1,674 points she’s scored.

It would also add to the development of younger players, such as freshmen Ashley Jones and Destiny Harden, who have not developed as well as Carey would have liked this season.

“I was telling them the other day, there are about three people on this team I can write down and they’re very consistent on how many points they’re going to have and rebounds and all of that,” he said. “Past that, I have no idea what we’re going to do.”

Cons: It would also lengthen the careers of seniors Kristina King and Chania Ray, who are already playing hurt.

King uses a fiberglass brace in her shoe to help her deal with the pain of an fractured foot, while Ray is dealing with a knee injury that has noticeably slowed her in games and keeps her from practicing on most occasions.

“We haven’t practiced her since the last game,” Carey said.

Injuries took a heavy toll on the Mountaineers this season, beginning with star guard Tynice Martin, who missed the entire season with a foot injury.

Guard Anja Martin (hip) also missed the entire season, while a knee injury kept forward Krystaline McCune out for all but five games.

The Mountaineers enter the Big 12 tournament with nine available scholarship players. The NCAA allows 15 for women’s basketball.

WVU last played in the WNIT in 2015, and advanced to the championship game before falling to UCLA, 62-60.

“If they really wanted to do it, we would go and try to win it all,” Carey said. “I don’t want to get into it just thinking we want to be there. If we’re going to go into it, we’re going to go into it hard.”