As with all Mike Carey-led teams, defense will be the name of the game for West Virginia in 2020-21.
However, after finishing last season with the worst scoring offense in the Big 12 Carey said on the Big 12 Women’s Basketball Preseason Coaches Teleconference Wednesday that it is the WVU offense that will need some work this offseason.
“We are trying to open it up a little bit more,” Carey said Wednesday morning. “Last year, we’d hold teams in the 60s or below and were still getting beat on offense. We just weren’t scoring, we weren’t moving the ball, we weren’t reversing the ball…On the offensive end we want to get downhill a lot more, get to the rim and not settle for so many threes.”
Last season the Mountaineers had the second-best defense in the league, allowing just 61.3 points per game, but only scored an average of 64 points per game themselves. The team also lost second-leading scorer Tynice Martin (14.5 points per game) to the WNBA draft after last season, meaning Carey will need to find new players that he can feature on offense.
One of those players will be senior guard Kysre Gondrezick. Gondrezick led the Mountaineers in scoring last season, averaging 15.3 points per game.
“She’s in a lot better shape and has really done a great job this summer,” Carey said of Gondrezick.
Carey also specifically mentioned sophomore forward Esmery Martinez, sophomore center Rochelle Norris and junior guard Madisen Smith as players that could take a step forward offensively this season.
“I think Esmery Martinez in another young lady, that was a freshman last year, that could really help us on the scoring end,” Carey said. “And then Rochelle Norris has really got on balance a lot more at the center position and is finishing a lot better.”
Martinez averaged 5.4 points and 6.8 rebounds per game off the bench last season. Norris averaged 3.5 points and 4.2 rebounds. Smith, a third-year starter, averaged 7.0 points and led the team with 83 assists.
Finally, Carey said a focus of the offseason is getting junior forward Kari Niblack to cut down on her fouls. Niblack led the team with 96 personal fouls last season, averaging 3.3 per game. She also finished third on the team, averaging 10.3 points and led the team with 6.9 rebounds per game.
“We can’t afford her to get in foul trouble,” Carey said. “We need her to be more aggressive on the offensive end because she can score.”
Overall, the Mountaineers had the lowest shooting percentage (38.5%), third-lowest three-point percentage (29.3%) and the third-worst assist/turnover ratio (0.82) in the Big 12 last season.
“I think we’re going to be a better scoring team, we need to be a better scoring team,” Carey said. “We’re really going to look to be more efficient on the offensive side.”