Sports, Women's Basketball, WVU Sports

WVU will have high expectations in Mark Kellogg’s second season with the program

MORGANTOWN — Covered in disappointment after going point-for-point with top-seeded Iowa before coming up short Monday night, J.J. Quinerly wasted no time to lay the foundation for next season.

“You all keep watching us,” the WVU junior guard said. “We got more coming next season.”

Iowa’s 64-54 victory in the second round of the NCAA tournament still lit up the scoreboard inside Carver-Hawkeye Arena, a constant reminder of sorts of how far Mark Kellogg took the Mountaineers in his first season as head coach.

“I think a lot of people maybe didn’t know about West Virginia women’s basketball, so hopefully there were some eyes on this game tonight so people across the country got to see how special this group is,” Kellogg said.


It was also a bookmark of how much further the WVU program has to go to be able to beat the elite teams in the country.

“I think we’re close,” Kellogg continued. “I think we’ve been close all year, but no one wants to give us, it doesn’t feel like, a whole lot of credit.

“I don’t want this to be the finality. I don’t want this to be — when we talk about advancing — I don’t want it to always be one round. Not complaining about that in year one, but certainly would like to advance a little bit further.”

Heading into next season, the Mountaineers will be coming off a NCAA tournament experience. WVU will also return four starters for a second-straight year.

That’s the foundation, and it’s led by Quinerly, who averaged 19.8 points per game and was named the Big 12 defensive player of the year.

She’ll enter her senior season with an outside chance at becoming the program’s all-time leading scorer and a stronger chance at becoming the all-time leader in steals.

“I hope people across the country are starting to realize how talented she is,” Kellogg said after Quinerly scored 29 points in the first round against Princeton.

Jordan Harrison will be her running mate and forwards Kyah Watson and Kylee Blacksten are also returning starters.

Forwards Tirzah Moore and Danelle Arigbabu were regulars off the bench when healthy. Moore played 25 minutes against Iowa and finished with eight points and four rebounds.

In his first full year of recruiting, Kellogg has signed two top 100 recruits in guard Destiny Agubata from Moreno Valley, Calif. and center Jordan Thomas from Carrollton, Texas. Both are 4-star recruits.

The Mountaineers also had junior-college recruit Ashala Moseberry and transfer Zya Nugent redshirting this season.

Like Harrison, Nugent transferred from Stephen F. Austin after Kellogg got the Mountaineers’ job.

And then there is the transfer portal, which Kellogg and his staff will be keeping an eye on.

“There is no rest yet,” Kellogg said. “Once you get your roster complete, you rest. We’ll get back at it (Tuesday) and probably be back on the phone. Maybe some recruits watched this one tonight, and they’re like, hey, I would love to play in that system. So that’s what you hope.”

So that’s what Kellogg has to work with. It will be a group that knows the bar has been raised, both in anticipation and expectations.

“This was new for us. It was new for me,” Kellogg said. “Phenomenal environment. I’ve said now that I’ve been here that I want to get that thing in Morgantown. If we’re going to continue to do this in women’s basketball and give the top four seeds that kind of environment, I want to create that in Morgantown.

“We represent an entire state. That’s what people don’t know about West Virginia. We have no pro sports. We’re the only Power 5 in the entire state. The Mountaineer fans are rabid. They just love their Mountaineers. I want to play off of that. We are hardworking and blue collar and those things. I want a team that represents the state. I’m certainly proud of them tonight because I think we did that.”

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