By Mickey Furfari
For The Register-Herald
Despite the loss of his best player, coach Mike Carey feels good about the chances of the West Virginia women’s basketball team this year.
Asya Bussie, a 6-foot-4 senior center, injured her knee severely on the first day of practice and is out for the entire season. “We’re certainly going to miss her,” Carey said.
“She was our leading scorer, our best shot-blocker and a great rebounder.”
But four other starters return from last year’s team that posted a 24-10 record, including 11-5 in the Big East Conference.
Bussie, who shot a team-high 53.2 percent from the field as a junior, averaged 12.1 points a game and had 226 rebounds. Two others who were double-digit scorers returned.
Christal Caldwell, a 5-9 junior guard, averaged 10.8 ppg and Taylor Palmer, a 5-9 junior guard, averaged 10.6 ppg.
Brooke Hampton, a 5-9 junior guard, and Jess Harlee, a 6-1 junior forward, both started most games in 2011-12.
Linda Stepney, a 5-7 sophomore guard, also saw considerable action.
Carey, who’s in his 12th season here, said, “We are excited about the upcoming season. We’re practicing hard. That’s an indication that we should be OK.”
The WVU women will play Concord University in an exhibition game on Tuesday, Nov. 30, at the WVU Coliseum.
WVU, which also will have a scrimmage against Virginia Tech, will play UNC-Wilmington to start the regular season on Friday, Nov. 9, in Morgantown.
Carey noted that, “We have a lot of height. We could play four players at either forward or center. So that is a strength.”
He likes that situation because it allows him to make various adjustments.
“It even gives us some opportunities to do some things,” Carey continued. “We’re pleased to be in the Big 12. We’ve looked at some film of the other teams.
“You can do all that, but not until you actually play teams do you learn much about the new teams.”
There are just two seniors on the team, so it is a young squad. Carey is happy with the recruiting class. He thinks the freshmen are blending in well.
“We’ve lost one of the country’s finest centers (Bussie), so everyone has to help offset that loss and I think they will,” Carey said.