MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — As ESPN’s cameras cut to various schools around the country, preening over coaches not named Mike Carey and projecting other teams’ chances for becoming March Madness darlings, the West Virginia women sensed that old cloud of disrespect still hovering.

Yet the Mountaineers received ample respect from the minds who mattered most: the NCAA selection committee.

West Virginia (29-4) earned a No. 2 seed—the program’s high-water mark—and will open tournament play Sunday against 15th-seeded Albany (28-4) in Baton Rouge, La. (Tip-off is 3 p.m. Eastern on ESPN.)

A second-round matchup against homestanding No. 7 seed LSU might follow before WVU can advance to Louisville where regional hosts and No. 3-seeded Cardinals likely would await. Tennessee received the region’s top seed.

BRACKET: Complete women’s NCAA pairings

The No. 2 seed was the best-case scenario for West Virginia, which eight days ago lost the Big 12 championship game 74-71 to Baylor, another team that drew a No. 2 seed.

“For the committee to give us a 2 seed is great,” Carey said. “I really thought we might be a 3 after losing the Baylor game, but I think the committee saw what we did throughout the course of the year.”

Carey wasn’t so appreciative of ESPN’s bracket show coverage, feeling the analysts gave only courtesy mentions to WVU before pumping up lower-seeded teams. Whether the slight was real or perceived or the quirk of a network’s production decision to focus on larger ratings markets, Carey sounded intent about carrying the grudge forward.

“That should fire the team up,” Carey said. “I didn’t think we got the respect on TV that we deserved. It seemed 3 seeds were getting more respect than we were. Even 5 and 10 seeds were getting more respect. There’s a lot of things that ruffled my feathers. They’ve got me fired up now.”

Guard Taylor Palmer, one of WVU’s five seniors, said ESPN’s scant attention toward the Mountaineers “was disappointing, and I feel like everybody was a little upset. I think that we’ll use that as motivation and come out and prove people wrong like we did all year.”

Carey liked that bit of incentive, especially for a squad that has been showered with compliments locally.

“I could tell as that show went on and on our girls were getting not real happy. That’s OK, though—I want them mad. I want them to have a chip on their shoulder. I want them going in hungry. Evidently we still have a lot to prove to the country.”

That validation will only come through a tournament run that surpasses the program’s history of abrupt exits—nine previous NCAA appearances without ever once reaching the Sweet 16. Seven of those berths were achieved under Carey

“We just have not went out in the NCAA tournament and did well—I’ll be the first to admit,” Carey said. “We’ve got to start doing better in the NCAA tournament. Hopefully this will be the year we do that.”

DATING GAME
Among the first texts center Asya Bussie received after the brackets’ unveiling came from her boyfriend, men’s team point guard Juwan Staten, who was in Washington, D.C., preparing for Tuesday night’s NIT game.

The two have been dating since last season when Bussie’s then-teammate YaYa Dunning—an Ohio native, like Staten—played matchmaker. It seems Staten had noticed Bussie during his 2011-12 transfer year and even found himself analyzing her post game.

“Me and YaYa, we talked a lot, and I let YaYa know that I liked Asya,” he said. “Now I didn’t really expect her to go back and tell her, but she did and everything worked out. So thanks to YaYa for that one.”

Bussie confirmed most of the When-Juwan-Met-Asya details: “Yes, YaYa hooked us up … but I’m pretty sure he wanted her to tell me.”

As you might expect from two All-Big 12 performers with undergrad degrees in hand, they spend there together time “talking about basketball—a lot,” Bussie said. When their relationship started, Bussie was rehabbing a torn ACL that sidelined her last season.

“That was frustrating time for her, because she hadn’t had an injury that caused her to sit out before,” Staten said. “Her emotions were all over the place.

“But we got in the gym and worked on some things—even if it was just sitting down dribbling a basketball. Really, it was anything to take her mind off the injury and think about the positives of next season.”

Staten made every women’s home game his schedule allowed this season, and even before the ones he couldn’t attend Bussie said he always sent a pregame text that read: “Be a pro.”

“I just try to send her a text before every game just to remind her to be a leader, be a captain, and I always end it with ‘be a pro.’ I just want to put in her mind that that’s what she is and everybody has confidence in her.”

The affirmations, pick-me-ups and rehab drills must be working. Bussie enjoyed her most productive season as the Mountaineers women shared the Big 12 regular season title.

Said Bussie with a widening grin: “He actually helps me a lot.”

bubble graphic

30

bubble graphic

Comments

  • Mister Man

    Happy to see that number 2 seed.

  • Rick55

    Go Mountaineer Women Cagers!! The entire Mountaineer Nation is behind you!!!

  • squad

    they just told you all you needed to hear..now go show them whats up. love ya lady mounties!!

  • Mister Man

    Great job this year. Keep plugging away. You are beyond awesome. Let's gooooooo Mountaineers!!!!

  • Aaron

    If I recall correctly, back years ago when ESPN was trying to get the Big East to renegotiate their television deal, WV was cited as one of the teams that supported waiting until the present deal was closer to running out instead of doing so in the middle of a contract.

    At about the same time, ESPN signed a television contract with the ACC. Out of the Big East fiasco, accusation were made and confirmed by the AD at Boston College that ESPN directed the ACC to go after Pitt, Syracuse and UConn but BC refused to support UConn’s addition to the conference.

    Had the Big East negotiated a long term deal in 2008 or 2009, it is unlikely the Pitt and Syracuse would have left the conference and many of the dominos that fell with those defections would not have taken place. There are those in Bristol who have been unhappy over the demise of the Big East and as such, it’s easy to see how they would take it out on the University.

    That is why Oliver Luck’s leadership was so imperative during the time of turmoil. Were it not for his ability to negotiate and forward thinking, WV would have been in the same boat UCONN is today, withering in a dying conference with little television revenue coming in. I don’t think that’s a hard concept but apparently there are those who post on here that cannot grasp simple facts.

    • Mister Man

      The prez of the BE didn't handle things well. WVU was afraid of getting stuck in the BE. When Pitt and the Cuse decided to leave WVU got out while the getting was good. We paid a larger fee to escape than Pitt or Cuse. They waited to see what would happen, then used WVU as a leverage to get a cheaper buyout. Mr. Luck, absolutely, did the right thing. I don't think ESPN was the bad guy in that evolution.

      • Aaron

        It was ESPN that began the process of the ACC going after PITT and The Accused, the process which led to AD Luck looking for a new home for WVU.

        How is ESPN not the bad guy in this fiasco?

  • Phil M.

    This is for Alan Taylor. I would very much like to see if you could set up an interview with someone in authority with ESPN.

    I really would like to know the motivation behind the way they degrade and disrespect WVU and our great state.

    If it's stupidity and ignorance then lets educate somebody. There is no reason for the total direspect we receive and I and a lot of other people would like an answer.

    If we're talking about rednecks and less than intelligent people, we can find those anywhere, Kentucky, North and South Carolina, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Georgia, etc.

    I want someone held accountable for the terrible broadcast journalism I'm observing and hearing when I watch ESPN.

    Who's going to seize the moment and call them on the carpet. One of our many journalists, President Gee, Oliver Luck, it doesn't matter but we WVU Alumni and native Mountaineers are sick of this treatment.

  • TW EAGLE

    Big Daddy Kane , hit the nail right on the head . . . the country at large , led by the media , takes pleasure in making fun of the peoples of West by God Virginia . . .

    we are a loyal (albeit a lot of infighting) hard working group of mountain folk with values that are eschewed by the flatlanders . . .

    you see , these cretins of the flat land who change their beliefs as often as the wind changes direction , are jealous of our heritage and our inner strength that helps us through the tough times . . .

    they keep 'throwing rocks' at us , hoping it will break our spirit (no chance) and reduce us in stature . . . somehow I seem to relish in the slights , revel in the thought that we West Virginians stand high above the crowd . . .

    Let's Gooo Mountaineeerrrsss ! ! !

  • Big Daddy Kane

    After watching the ESPN 30 for 30 on the Big East I'm a little surprised espn didn't cut away from the WVU selection announcement to show video of group of ladies barefoot and pregnant dancing around in front of a trailer ........

    • Mike

      Yeah, that was absolutely ridiculous. Had nothing at all to do with the show. It was a two hour show with all of about 5 seconds mentioning WVU, 3 seconds of which was spent showing barefoot, overall wearing, "hillbillies" dancing on the front porch blowing into shine jugs. Complete crap.

  • Dave

    Good luck in the tourney Ladies. Make some noise. Congrats again to all the Seniors on this team. You make West Virginia proud.

    LET'S GOOOOOOOOOO MOUNTAINEERS !!!!

  • Dave

    Wanny and Aysa sitting in a tree.
    K-I-S-S-I-N-G.

  • 4WVUinKY

    Congratulations Ladies Mountaineers! Go do your best and make yourselves and WVU Nation proud! All the best!

  • jay zoom

    the way I see this bracket is a great chance for the ladies to make the final four. Lets go ladies make WV proud as you have done all year.

  • wvrefugee

    So, we are a #2 seed and have to play in the Yum Center region with #3 U of Smell? Our athletics department has lost ALL credibility!!! Thanks athletics administration!
    Go Ladies!

  • Aaron

    This team getting no respect from the media; who would have think it.

    Congratulations ladies. Take care of business in Louisana and we shall see you in Louisville before heading to Nashville.

  • Country Roads

    I understand the school made bids to host a NCAA ladies tournament in advance. They are usually the ones who have excellent teams year after year. I do have a question for the NCAA selection committee, if a team is going to have a bid in the ladies tournament why not send that team to another region and not have home floor advantage ? It is as always no respect in this world as we think it should be especially if you are from West Virginia. Mountaineer ladies go and win this and earn that respect. When you win they will still treat you like a red head stepchild. Love you.

    • Pruntytown

      Men's Basketball has done this for years. Duke gets to play in Greenboro or Raliegh on a yearly basis to ensure they make the Sweet 16.