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West Virginia Ready To Move Up In Year Two
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By Wendell Barnhouse | wendell@big12sports.com
Big12Sports.com Correspondent


Story line
West Virginia faced the typical challenges of competition last season but some of the obstacles were out of the ordinary. First, the Mountaineers went through their first season in the Big 12. And before that, Asya Bussie went down with a season-ending knee injury on the second day of practice, depriving West Virginia of its best inside scorer and rebounder. The Mountaineers, though, finished 9-9 in Big 12 play and earned an at-large NCAA Tournament. With Bussie back and four returning starters, West Virginia believes it has what it takes to make a run at the Big 12 title. Based on being picked third in the preseason poll, it could happen.

Coach: Mike Carey, 244-141 in 12 seasons.
Last season: 17-14 overall, 9-9 in Big 12, tied 5th.
NCAA Tournament: Lost in first round.

Top players
Senior center Asya Bussie, senior guard Christal Caldwell, senior guard Taylor Palmer, senior guard Brooke Hampton, senior forward Jess Harlee, sophomore guard Bria Holmes, junior forward Averee Fields.

Coach Carey says
"Being aggressive offensively - that's something we've been working on all summer and something we continue to work on. Christal Caldwell and Taylor Palmer have really worked hard, and Bria Holmes really improved over the summer. We think we have a lot of pieces, and I'll be able to really bring people in and out. I think we're pretty deep, as deep as we've ever been, so we'll be able to keep fresh people in there and do some other things."

Notable
The Mountaineers celebrate 40 years of women's basketball this season. … Over the past three seasons, West Virginia has 12 victories over teams ranked in the top 25. … Senior guards Christal Caldwell (needs 228 points) and Taylor Palmer (needs 246) are within range of joining the 1,000 point club. Senior Asya Bussie enters the season with 1,044 career points in three seasons. … The Mountaineers seek to extend their school-record streak of four consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances. … West Virginia set a single-game attendance record on March 2 when 13,447 packed the Coliseum to see top-ranked Baylor and Brittney Griner.

Season opener
Nov. 8 vs. Ohio State

Top nonconference games
Nov. 15-17 Rainbow Wahine Classic
Nov. 24 vs. Virginia
Dec. 14 vs. Marshall

Conference opener
Jan. 2 at Kansas
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