MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Mike Carey’s mountaineers haven’t played at the WVU Coliseum since Dec. 7. They will return to the venue for a two-game homestand starting Saturday vs. Kansas State.
Much like Bob Huggins’ team, the WVU women played their most recent contest with a depleted roster for a number of reasons, including health and safety protocols. Those players sidelined at Iowa State included a pair of starting forwards in junior Esmery Martinez and senior Kari Niblack, along with fifth-year center Blessing Ejifor and senior guard Jasmine Carson.
According to head coach Mike Carey, all but one player will be available for tomorrow’s Big 12 home opener. Niblack is questionable due to a knee injury.
“We don’t know how much we will get out of her or if she will even play, but everyone is back,” Carey said.
In the 88-72 loss to the Cyclones, Carey thought his team played with a lot heart. Especially since a number of players were having to play out of position. The Mountaineers fought, outscoring the Cyclones 42-40 in the second half.
While his team had to play through a difficult situation, especially without three post players, Carey believes his team will only benefit from it in the future.
“Playing with 7-8 players the other night really helped us,” Carey said in an exclusive interview for this weekend’s Bob Huggins Show. “If we have to do that again in the future… you know, we had a guard playing the 4, 4’s playing the 5, different people in different combinations. We’ve been practicing like that to be honest with you the past couple of days. As we get the players back, we will be very happy to get them back, but when they get back they won’t be in great shape needless to say. So, when we get them back, we’ll have to bring them along slowly.”
It will be quite the challenge for Carey’s inside players, especially coming off limited practice, going against KSU’s Ayoka Lee, who is the Big 12’s top scorer and shot blocker and second-leading rebounder.
The WVU women will face Kansas State in game two of the doubleheader at the Coliseum. It tips off at 7 p.m. on ESPN+