Senior nights in college basketball can be dicey affairs for all involved. Emotions are high as players who have devoted four or five years to a school and a team play their final game in front of the home fans.
West Virginia honored its seniors Tuesday night. The Mountaineers also needed to beat Kansas to earn a share of the Big 12 regular-season title. If that wasn’t enough pressure, coach Mike Carey had a tough choice to make.
Senior guard Brooke Hampton suffered a knee injury on Feb. 10. Her rehabilitation is progressing and she hopes to return for the NCAA Tournament. However, she didn’t want to miss playing in her last home game. In the hours before the game, Carey debated.
“I changed my mind two or three times, and she changed her mind two or three times,” Carey said. “If she turns the wrong way and the knee swells up, who’s the dummy? Me.”
Pat Biondo, West Virginia’s video coordinator and administrative assistant, suggested that Carey play Hampton just for the opening tip. That put the pressure on senior center Asya Bussie. She controlled the opening tip, then the Mountaineers called a quick timeout so Hampton could sub out.
She walked to the bench with tears in her eyes and the cheers of the Coliseum crowd providing a senior send-off memory.