Hoop styles will clash in WVU-Stanford tilt

March, 18, 2012

NORFOLK, Va. -- Physicality versus finesse.

On the surface, that's what Monday night's second-round matchup between West Virginia and Stanford looks like. And the Mountaineers are making no bones about their game plan to knock off the top seed in the Fresno Region: knock 'em around.

"We'll come out and do what we do," said West Virginia coach Mike Carey. "I don't want to say we want an ugly game, but we want to make it physical as much as the referees will let us, to try to bang and get on the floor and get some loose balls and take some charges. We need to make it that type of game."

West Virginia forward Asya Bussie characterized her team's style as "aggressive."

"We need to find a way to get them out of their sets and mess with their flow, that's something we've been focusing on, just playing West Virginia defense," Bussie said.

Stanford coach Tara VanDerveer said her team isn't afraid of a physical game. They've had their share this season, particularly in the Pac-12 Tournament against Arizona State and Cal. But that doesn't mean she likes it -- not for her own team, or for the women's game.

"There is a place for physical basketball, but philosophically, I think that women's basketball has a much better chance of creating more fans if we would actually play a finesse game," VanDerveer said. "You want to see the athleticism and the skill of the players and if they are smashed on the floor and holding, you aren't going to see that. I am personally a finesse basketball fan.

"I guess I'm more [from] a John Wooden philosophy that basketball isn't football and it isn't rugby. We want out best players out there. We want to have a game where pushing and shoving and grabbing is penalized. We want to see basketball. There are some teams that really take things to the limit. We play against those teams all year long, knowing that, in the tournament, it is even more physical."

But that does not mean her team won't be ready to play, VanDerveer said.

"I have told the officials before every game that they should let the players play," VanDerveer said. "Our team is ready for any style, any way it's called. But I really think it's a disservice for the women's game, where we are fighting so hard for fan support and television. People we want to see basketball and not a wrestling match."

Carey said his team's best-case scenario is to see Stanford's Ogwumike sisters get into foul trouble.

"Obviously, you don't want to be getting beat up all the time, but we're ready to step up to the challenge," said senior Nneka Ogwumike. "We understand that West Virginia is going to be physical and up-in-your-grill when it comes to defense. I think we are prepared."

Michelle Smith

Contributor, espnW.com
Michelle Smith has covered pro and college sports for AOL Fanhouse, the San Francisco Chronicle and espnW.



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