MORGANTOWN — In the weeks to come, once Teana Muldrow’s climb up the WVU record books has officially come to an end, her teammates and coaches say it won’t be the points and rebounds that define the 6-foot-1 forward.
Instead, it will be Muldrow’s leadership abilities, on and off the court.
No doubt, the numbers are irreplaceable. Muldrow’s 14th double-double — 12 points, 10 rebounds — of the season on March 18 led the WVU women’s basketball team to a 79-51 victory against St. Joseph’s in the second round of the WNIT, in front of 1,651 fans inside the WVU Coliseum.
WVU (23-11) advances to host James Madison (23-10), at 7 p.m. March 22 in the round of 16. The Dukes knocked off Radford, 62-35, to advance.
The player who WVU head coach Mike Carey used to motivate by telling Muldrow she would never be a good Big 12 player, is now fourth all-time at WVU in scoring (1,757) and rebounding (947).
“Scoring is good, but I take more pride in my rebounding,” Muldrow said. “I try to get to the boards and help out in other ways.”
“Helping out in other ways” is a phrase that has possibly come to partially define what Muldrow has meant to the Mountaineers.
It’s one thing to be consistent in the box score. It’s cool to go out and score 30 points or average 10 rebounds per game.
None of that makes up who a team leader truly is. None of that is why Muldrow is so respected by her teammates.
“Just the way she handles herself when no one else is watching and the leadership she provides when no one is watching,” Carey said. “She’ll pull people to the side and talk to them or she’ll even go to their apartment and talk to them.
“In the middle of practice, she’ll ask to bring everyone in the middle and talk, which people never see.”
Usually, Muldrow’s words are of encouragement. Sometimes, she is forced to tell a teammate what’s up.
“She’s helped me a lot,” said WVU guard Naomi Davenport, who led WVU with 18 points after being held scoreless in the first quarter. “Before every game, she always tells me to play like the player I really am. She’s always in my ear when I get frustrated.
“She puts a smile on my face when we hang out. She’s always has something good to say.”
Muldrow’s leadership was not developed over night any more than her 1,757 points were scored in just a few games.
Her first year in college, Muldrow was buried on the depth chart and redshirted, because Carey wasn’t going to have the need to play her.
Carey was impressed early with Muldrow, who did not pout over the redshirt or cry over the lack of playing time.
“I used to tell her to go on the side and get out of my sight for a little bit,” Carey said. “Some players would pout. She went over and worked on her game. That’s the difference. That’s why she has the stats she has right now.”
Muldrow remembers a being a young player from New Jersey who was afraid to shoot, afraid to talk and afraid to make a mistake.
“I’ve come pretty far,” Muldrow said, as a slight smile breaks from her normally serious and straight-forward postgame press conference. “My freshman year, I didn’t have a lot of confidence. I didn’t have a lot of stats. Getting better over the years was a big thing for me.”
Kristina King added 15 points on 7 of 9 shooting from the floor and Katrina Pardee added 15, while Chania Ray recorded eight assists to move into seventh place all-time at WVU with 447 for her career.
WVU is 6-3 all-time against James Madison. The last meeting was during Muldrow’s sophomore season; a 69-62 neutral-court victory. Muldrow came off the bench to score 14 points and add seven rebounds.
“James Madison is playing very well right now,” Carey said. “We’ll have our hands full Thursday.
“This is going to be a tough game. A lot of people will think, ‘Oh, it’s just James Madison or whatever.’ The team that beat Penn State, they just beat by 30. This is a good basketball program coming here.”