by Jim Buzzerd
It hasn’t been mentioned here, so it may be old news to some, but long time West Virginia University women’s basketball coach, Mike Carey, retired three weeks ago as the winningest coach in program history. His overall record was 447-239 in a 21-year span.
At West Virginia, he won a Big 12 Conference regular-season title in 2014 and a tournament championship in 2017. In his 21 seasons at WVU, he coached 10 players who earned 20 All-America honors, 74 all-conference performers, 10 WNBA players and 20 Mountaineers who eclipsed 1,000 career points.
Carey’s WVU teams defeated 45 ranked opponents, including seven in the Top 10, and were ranked a combined 131 weeks during his tenure. He took over a WVU program that was 5-22 the year before and immediately won 50 games in his first three seasons including a 21-win season and a berth in the NCAA Tournament in year three. He had 14 seasons of 20 or more wins, including the 30-5 school-record season in 2014.
Last week WVU athletic director Shane Lyons hired South Dakota’s Dawn Plitzuweit to replace Carey. Plitzuweit (PLITTS-zoo-white) comes to West Virginia after serving as the head coach at South Dakota from 2016-22. During her six seasons in Vermillion, South Dakota, she amassed a 158-36 record, including an 83-10 mark in the Summit League. The three-time Summit League Coach of the Year, Plitzuweit led the Coyotes to three regular-season championships, three conference tournament championships, four NCAA Tournament appearances and a berth in the 2022 NCAA Sweet 16 during her tenure at USD.
This appears to be a very intriguing hire for the Mountaineers. Some were wondering why the search for a new coach was dragging on. It was suspected that Boston College head coach Joanna Bernabei-McNamee was the top target. She has a nice resume and is from the Mountain State. McNamee apparently had a significant buy out clause in her contract at BC, which led many to believe the backup plan could be Kim Stephens who just led Glenville State University to the women’s NCAA Division ll championship.
My thought was either one of those would be a fine choice to be the Mountaineers head coach. Now it’s clear why Lyons wasn’t in a rush to make a hire. He was waiting for Plitzuweit’s season to end so he could begin the hiring process and that process had to wait because South Dakota beat Mississippi and second seed Baylor to reach the women’s Sweet 16. A three-point loss to Michigan kept the Coyotes out of the Elite Eight. The fact that Plitzuweit took a small school like South Dakota to the level she has makes her a potential home run hire for the Mountaineers.