West Virginia's women's basketball team will still run this season. It's the other dimension that has fans - and coaches - wondering how this newfound ad hoc style will work.

The loss of WNBA point guard Yolanda Paige and WVU's returning frontcourt strength swayed head coach Mike Carey to transform his normally guard-oriented sets to an inside-out flex look.

The Mountaineers revamped offense will play to their center strengths, notably 6-5 senior Yelena Leuchanka and 6-2 junior Olayinka Sanni.

"We're still gonna run," the fifth-year coach said. "We won't be all geared to guards and penetration."

What it will do is feature the inside-out duo of Sanni and sharp-shooter Meg Bulger. Add in the solid-shooting Leuchanka, and West Virginia has three players it can rely upon in the clutch. That's no small feat when its point guard position - formerly locked down by Paige - will be platooned by freshmen Ashley Powell and Sarah Bucar.

Powell is an athletic ball-handler whose passing skills mirror her Motown home's flashiness. Bucar is a gritty, fundamentally-sound dribbler whose penetrating style will allow her to kick to a fellow Oakland Catholic grad in Bulger.

"We have an opportunity," Carey said, "if our point guards come on."

A team can't merely replace Paige, who shattered every WVU assist and minutes played record in school history, led the nation in assists with 297 and became the first BIG EAST player taken in the 2005 draft by the Indiana Fever with the 16th overall selection (

"Those are awful big shoes," Powell said. "But we are catching on quick, and I think we can get enough offense to keep people from double-teaming others."

The Mountaineers, who come off back-to-back 20-win seasons for the first time in school history, will also play Sanni and Leuchanka at the same time. That forces other squads, especially in Big East play, to match WVU inside or give up points and fouls.

"There will be a lot more rules to this," Carey said of the offense. "It will have more structure. We'll try to get the ball out of our guards' hands as quick as possible. There won't be that freelance."

Leuchanka - who has yet to play a Big East game in three years due to two early-season ACL tears - is one of WVU's most threatening scorers and is actually better facing the basket. Sanni's superb play comes in the low post in one-on-one situations.

"This is the most athletic team we have had since I have been here," Carey said.

One might read that as a signal to grab all the easy points possible. But consider that Carey's players are more suited to an Owen Schmitt-like set than a Steve Slaton style. One wouldn't argue Schmitt isn't athletic. One would reason that you don't enter Clydesdales into thoroughbred races.

"I am very happy where we are conditioning wise, especially in the practices," Carey said. "And (Leuchanka) is the best shape right now she has ever been. Every time she goes down, I don't want to expect the worst, but it's hard not to. We need her when we go into the Big East."

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