MORGANTOWN — It started this offseason, at least that’s the timeline J.J. Quinerly puts on it, as the star guard tries to explain the early success of the WVU women’s basketball team.
“It’s just from all of us being together,” Quinerly said after scoring 21 points Saturday to lead the Mountaineers to a 90-50 victory against St. Bonaventure. “We all do everything together.”
A chemistry was built in those early days since Mark Kellogg took over the program in March after moving over from Stephen F. Austin.
Maybe he didn’t exactly know what he back in April, as he tried to mesh six returners with seven newcomers and mold them into his chaotic full-court pressing machine.
That’s changed over time.
“We’re just learning. Every time we play, I keep saying we get new information,” Kellogg said. “Most of it is good, but there’s some of it that isn’t so great and some of it is probably somewhere in the middle.”
The bottom line with the Mountaineers (7-0): They will wake up Sunday as one of just 21 remaining undefeated women’s teams in the country.
“That actually doesn’t surprise me,” said Quinerly, who had 21 points while sitting out most of the fourth quarter against the Bonnies (2-5). “I would be more disappointed if we weren’t.”
It’s the best start the Mountaineers have had to a season since 2017-18, when WVU began 13-0.
Yet it seems like very few have noticed outside of Morgantown. The weekly AP Top 25 is released Sunday. Last week, WVU didn’t garner a single vote.
“We still have a lot more to prove,” Quinerly said.
What WVU has proved so far is it’s become a team built around chemistry and sharing the basketball, which fits nicely with its helter-skelter defense.
Quinerly is the go-to scorer, but she’s not a one-woman show. Jordan Harrison is the passer. Lauren Fields is the shooter and menacing defender.
Kyah Watson does a little bit of everything, while Jayla Hemingway and Tirzah Moore have become impact players coming off the bench.
WVU’s positives, so far, have outweighed the negatives. There will likely come a time when the Mountaineers’ rebounding deficiencies will come into play.
Or there will soon be opponents who aren’t turning the ball over 31 times against WVU’s press, as St. Bonaventure did Saturday.
“It’s going to get more difficult to do that in the Big 12,” Kellogg said. “I don’t know that we’re going to turn people over at this rate at that level.
“But this is who we want to be. This is part of our identity.”
And few teams share the basketball like the Mountaineers, who finished with 20 assists against St. Bonaventure. It’s the third time this season WVU has had at least 19 assists in a game.
“They’re good assist numbers, but I think they could be considerably higher,” Kellogg said. “Our assist rate isn’t bad at all. You look at last year and it was like 11 per game. I want to be 18, 19 or 20 a game.”
Harrison had eight of those, the third time this season she’s had at least that many.
“Jordan brings a lot to the team,” Hemingway said. “She’s fast, quick and athletic. She’s a great floor general out there for us. It’s really fun playing with her.”
WVU hasn’t been nationally ranked since 2021. When Kellogg began molding the team together — becoming WVU’s third coach in as many years — top 25 recognition was the least of his worries, yet it could soon become reality.
“I think we’ve made a statement of being this whole new team again after last year, but we’ve still got more to do,” Quinerly said. “We’ve got a lot of good teams that we’re still trying to beat, so we’ve got more work to do.”