2013-14 WVU women's basketball preview

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Three keys to the 2013-14 season ...

1. REGAIN DEFENSIVE FORM

The Mountaineers were uncharacteristically poor in the defensive zone last season, allowing 60.7 points per game after being top 15 defensively the previous three seasons, averaging between 51.9 and 53.7 points allowed per game. If there’s anything West Virginia can take from its 101-26 exhibition victory Saturday against Concord, it’s the re-commitment to defense. Concord managed just 26 points on 18 percent shooting and lost the rebound battle, 56-26, lopsided totals head coach Mike Carey hopes will continue into the season.

2. CALDWELL ANSWERS THE CALL

Senior guard Christal Caldwell, a 2010 transfer from Florida, celebrated her 23rd birthday Saturday by scoring 25 points in 21 minutes. Caldwell was named to the All Big-12 first team last season after leading the Mountaineers in scoring (13.1 ppg) and steals (51). She scored 22.1 percent of West Virginia’s points in Big 12 play and was a 35 percent 3-point shooter. As one of four returning starters, Caldwell will be counted on for a strong senior season to push the Mountaineers back toward the top of the conference standings.

3. OWN NON-CONFERENCE

Somehow, even after beating Concord by 75 points, Carey walked into the postgame press conference in a huff. “I’m very disappointed,” he said. The defense wasn’t tight enough. The 3-of-15 3-point shooting in the first half wouldn’t cut it. The expectations have always been high under Carey, but he’s ramped up the early season tempo because of upcoming dates with Ohio State, Mississippi, Washington State and Virginia all before the end of November. There’s no space for cupcakes on this schedule.

AT A GLANCE

• 2012-13: 17-14 overall, 9-9 Big 12; lost in first round of NCAA tournament.

• COACH: Mike Carey, 13th year, 244-141.

• PROBABLE STARTERS: G — Bria Holmes, So., 6-1, (5.8 ppg, 1.6 rpg); G — Linda Stepney, Jr., 5-7, (3.0 ppg, 2.7 apg, 2.4 rpg); G — Christal Caldwell, Sr., 5-9, (13.1 ppg, 4.5 rpg); F — Averee Fields, Jr., 6-1, (7.8 ppg, 4.9 rpg); C — Asya Bussie, Sr., 6-4, (NA).

• SCHEDULE (Home games in caps)

NOVEMBER — 8, OHIO STATE, 5:30 p.m.; 15, Mississippi, 9:30 p.m.; 16, Washington State, 5 p.m.; 17, Hawaii, 10 p.m.; 24, VIRGINIA, 4 p.m.; 30, Youngstown State, 4:35 p.m.

DECEMBER — 3, COPPIN STATE, 7 p.m.; 7, FAIRLEIGH DICKINSON, 2 p.m.; 14, MARSHALL, TBA; 18, DELAWARE STATE, 7 p.m.; 21, Duquesne, 2 p.m.; 29, ELON, 2 p.m.

JANUARY — 2, Kansas, 8 p.m.; 4, Oklahoma State, 7 p.m.; 8, BAYLOR, 7 p.m.; 12, TEXAS, noon; 15, Iowa State, 8 p.m.; 18, OKLAHOMA, 2 p.m.; 22, Texas Tech, 7:30 p.m.; 25, Texas, 4 p.m.; 29, IOWA STATE, 7 p.m.

FEBRUARY — 1, at TCU, 8 p.m.; 8, KANSAS STATE, 2 p.m.; 13, Oklahoma, 7 p.m.; 16, TCU, 1 p.m.; 19, OKLAHOMA STATE, 7 p.m.; 22, Kansas State, 6 p.m.; 26, TEXAS TECH, 7 p.m.

MARCH — 2, Baylor, 2 p.m.; 4, KANSAS, 7 p.m.


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