West Virginia Mountaineers
| MESSAGE BOARD
RECORD: 21 - 10
REGION: Mideast SEED: 11
COACH: Mike Carey CONFERENCE: Big 12
Road to the Final Four ...................................................................................
|PLAYER TO WATCH|
Bulger has 449 points this season to average a team-high 14.5 points per game -- which ranked 11th among Big East players -- for the Mountaineers. She also ranked 13th in field-goal percentage, hitting 40 percent of her attempts from the field. But Bulger's at her best from beyond the arc, where she has nailed 88 3-pointers (2.84 per game) this season. Her 39.8 percent accuracy topped the Big East, barely edging UConn's Diana Taurasi, who has hit 20 fewer treys.
ANALYSIS BY ESPN'S STACEY DALES-SCHUMAN
Now this is a remarkable story. In just three seasons at the helm of the Mountaineers' program, coach Mike Carey has taken a team from a 5-22 record to a current win total that exceeds that of the past two seasons combined! Furthermore, he has done it with just nine able bodies.
Two of the Mountaineers' post players suffered season-ending ACL tears early in the year -- one of those players, 6-foot-5 junior college transfer Yelena Leuchanka, was labeled as the nations No. 1 transfer according to the All-Star Girls Report.
Without much size inside, the Mountaineers have had to rely on team speed and versatility to win basketball games. And junior point guard Yolanda Paige pilots West Virginia. She's a national frontrunner in the assist category, and as she goes, so go the Mountaineers. Though still a junior, Paige is on track to become the all-time assists leader at West Virginia.
The heart of the team belongs to Kate Bulger, who has been a part of the West Virginia program through the good times and the lowest of lows. And as a result, she's extremely tough-minded. She has started every game of her career, which is the best in the Big East and good for fifth nationally. But what Bulger does best on the court is find the bottom of the mesh. Her shot is as pure as honey, and she leads the program with most treys ever by a Mountaineer.
Kate's sister, Meg, is the most versatile player on the roster -- she has literally played all five positions on the floor at some point this season. But hey, that's why she was a Parade All-American -- the second ever to represent West Virginia -- just a year ago in high school. Meg has been the Big East Freshman of the Week on six different occasions this season -- she's pretty good. Obviously success runs in the Bulger family, as their brother, Mark, is a pro bowl quarterback and standout for the NFL's St. Louis Rams.
West Virginia runs a motion offense that compliments the athleticism and speed of the team. Carey loves to push the transition game and implement an aggressive defensive pressure that is advantageous against more sizeable foes. This strategy has proven successful in the 2003-04 campaign against teams such as Notre Dame and Virginia Tech, both huge wins for the program.
West Virginia must continue to push the tempo in order to wear down larger teams in tournament action if they are to achieve success.