No. 2 Seed WVU Hungry to Prove Itself

The West Virginia women's basketball team sat in the atrium of its practice facility anxiously awaiting its NCAA tournament fate.

As ESPN's coverage of the unveiling of the bracket began, the Mountaineers heard the network's analysts speak about high-profile programs like Connecticut, Stanford and a Baylor team that shared the Big 12's regular season crown with WVU.

After 20 minutes, West Virginia saw its name as a No. 2 seed taking on No. 15 Albany in the first round Sunday at 3 p.m. In that moment, happy to see their accomplishments recognized with the highest seed in program history, the Mountaineers applauded and cheered at the sight of their name but quickly quieted down to hear what the analysts were going to say about their chances of advancing deep into the tournament.

"West Virginia will have a tough road," was all that was said about WVU before moving on to talk about Albany's run to win its third consecutive American East title.

"Is that it?" asked WVU junior point guard Linda Stepney.

Even after having one of the best regular seasons in program history and earning its highest seed in the tournament ever, the Mountaineers realized they still have plenty to prove when the tournament gets underway this week.

"The committee saw what we did throughout the course of the year. Now, as far as what went on on TV, it should fire the team up," said WVU head coach Mike Carey. "Three seeds were getting more respect than we were and even No. 5 and 10 seeds. I'm fired up, I'm ready to go practice now. We've got a lot to prove.

"We've got to go out there and we'll have to play on some home floors, but we knew that."

If the Mountaineers advance far enough, they will have to play two teams on their home floors in order to advance to the Elite Eight. WVU could have a second-round matchup against an LSU team that made the Sweet 16 last season will be in Baton Rouge, La., before a potential showdown against last year's national runner-up Louisville on the Cardinals' home floor.

Luckily for West Virginia, it has been good winning games on the road this season. The Mountaineers are 11-1 in true road games away from Morgantown.

"This team, for some reason, has played better on the road than at home. But we've got to win the first one before we get to the second one," Carey said. "They're a little bit more focused (on the road).

"They enjoy going in front of large crowds and sitting them on their hands. I just think this team enjoys beating people on the road."

During Carey's tenure at West Virginia, the Mountaineers have made the NCAA tournament eight times in 13 years, including a bid in each of the last five. But WVU has yet to advance past the second round under Carey.

"We're going to have to go there and win," Carey said. "We're going in with a lot of confidence and I know our players have a chip on their shoulders. We like being the underdog.

"It's amazing when you're the two seed and you're the underdog. That's amazing to me."

BlueGoldNews Top Stories