With a penchant for continuing to set new standards, Mike Carey enters his ninth season as head coach of the West Virginia University women's basketball team.
His achievements speak volumes: four 21-win seasons in six years (a school record); three consecutive postseason appearances (a school record); the second-best four-year span in school history amassing 82 wins (2005-08); 10 career victories over ranked opponents including the highest-ranked team in school history; the highest ranked road team in school history; victories over two eventual national runner-ups; the school's first-ever BIG EAST championship game appearance; consecutive NCAA tournament appearances (2007, 2008) and three trips in five years (2004, 2007, 2008).
In eight seasons at WVU, Carey has posted a 150-101 (.598) overall record. Under his direction, WVU is 74-22 (.771) against non-conference opponents including an impressive 43-3 mark against non-league foes at the WVU Coliseum.
In 2008-09, Carey engineered perhaps his best coaching performance as he guided the Mountaineers to an 18-15 record and a WNIT second round appearance with just eight healthy players. Along the way, the Mountaineers defeated eventual national runner-up and No. 5 Louisville, marking the program’s highest-ranked road team ever defeated. WVU also defeated eventual WNIT champion USF at home.
Carey guided Liz Repella and Takisha Granberry to all-BIG EAST second team accolades and guard Sarah Miles garnered the league’s Most Improved Player of the Year award.
In 2007-08, the Mountaineers reached new heights under the Clarksburg native. WVU recorded a 25-8 record, the second-most wins in school history, and advanced to the NCAA second round for the second consecutive season. WVU was ranked in the nation’s Top 20 in both major polls in the season’s entirety for the first time in school history, reaching as high as No. 11 in both the Associated Press and ESPN/USA Today Coaches’ Poll.
In league play, the Mountaineers compiled a 12-4 record and finished third in the nation’s toughest conference – their highest finish since joining the BIG EAST in 1995-96. Carey also notched his 400th coaching victory with WVU’s win at Rhode Island.
Olayinka Sanni garnered honorable mention All-America honors and was named to the all-BIG EAST first team for the second consecutive season. Meg Bulger and LaQuita Owens garnered second team recognition.
In 2006-07, Carey led WVU to a 21-11 record and advanced to the NCAA tournament=s second round. Equally impressive, WVU finished with an 11-5 mark in the BIG EAST. The Mountaineers finished fourth in the league earning their then highest-ever regular season finish since joining the BIG EAST in 1996 and notching a first-round championship bye. Three Mountaineers also garnered all-conference accolades en route to postseason success: Sanni (first team), Owens (second team) and Chakhia Cole (honorable mention).
West Virginia reached the 2006 BIG EAST championship game for the first time in school history. Along the way, WVU, seeded No. 12, knocked off No. 5 Louisville in opening round action, No. 4 St. John=s in the quarterfinals and No. 1 seed Rutgers in the semifinals (ranked sixth nationally). It marked the first time in the 23-year history of the BIG EAST tournament that a 12-seed had won a game, let alone advanced to the championship contest.
The win over the Scarlet Knights marked the then-highest ranked opponent WVU had ever defeated in program history. Junior guard Britney Davis-White and sophomore guard Cole each garnered all-BIG EAST tournament team honors. WVU also knocked off No. 11 DePaul in regular season action at the WVU Coliseum.
In 2004-05, WVU posted a 21-13 campaign and reached the postseason WNIT championship game. In 2003-04 the Mountaineers notched a 21-11 season, the third-most wins in school history, and reached the NCAA tournament for the first time in 12 seasons.
In 2005-06, Carey guided Meg Bulger to Associated Press honorable mention All-America accolades and all-BIG EAST second team recognition.
In 2004-05, Carey guided guard Bulger and point guard Yolanda Paige to honorable mention All-America honors and all-BIG EAST first and second team honors, respectively. Bulger, a unanimous first team selection, became the first Mountaineer in school history ever named to that team.
Paige, who shattered every WVU assist and minutes played record, led the nation in assists with 297 and became the first BIG EAST player taken in the 2005 WNBA draft by the Indiana Fever with the 16th overall selection.
During that season Carey notched his 350th career victory with an 81-50 win at home against Syracuse. Carey was named 2003-04 BIG EAST Coach of the Year, as voted by the league=s coaches, in just his third season.
Under Carey's guidance, West Virginia won six more games than it did in all of the previous seasons in the always tough BIG EAST conference, finishing with a mark of 10-6. It was the second-best league turnaround from one season to the next in BIG EAST history.
Carey guided WVU to victories over two ranked teams in 2003-04 with wins over No. 19/21 Virginia Tech during the regular season and upsetting No. 23/23 Villanova in quarterfinal round action of the BIG EAST tournament. Those wins marked the first time in school history that WVU defeated two ranked teams in the same season.
The victory over the Wildcats advanced WVU into the BIG EAST tournament's semifinals for the first time in school history.
Six years ago, three Mountaineers garnered all-conference recognition under Carey's guidance: freshman Meg Bulger was named freshman of the year; sister and senior guard Kate Bulger was named to the conference=s second team; junior point guard Yolanda Paige was named to the third team and became the first Mountaineer named to the BIG EAST all-tournament team.
He became WVU's sixth women's basketball coach in March, 2001, after 13 seasons as head men=s coach at Salem College.
Given the task of resurrecting the women's program, he was no stranger to rebuilding programs and making them a winner.
So it was to no one's surprise the magic that Carey worked with holdovers from a 5-22 campaign and only a few newcomers in his first year.
He took the program one step farther the next season, in 2002-03, as he guided WVU to its first winning season since 1996-97 with a 15-13 mark and back to the BIG EAST tournament for a consecutive season. Carey also directed Kate Bulger, Sherell Sowho and Paige to all-BIG EAST honors, then the first time in school history the Mountaineers had three players receive all-conference recognition in the same season.
Kate Bulger was also a third-team BIG EAST performer in 2002-03.
But his efforts didn't stop there. Carey=s second recruiting class was ranked 16th nationally by All-Star Girl's Report, one of the nation=s leading scouting service.
His third recruiting class that consisted of Yelena Leuchanka and Meg Bulger was rated the fourth-best class in the nation for a class of two or less by All-Star.
During the early signing period of 2003-04 campaign, Carey inked the 17th-best recruiting class by All-Star.
Prior to his arrival at WVU, Carey served as the head men=s basketball coach at Salem College (Div. II) in Salem, W.Va. Before he took the reins of the program, the Tigers posted an 8-19 mark in the 1987-88 season. In Carey's first season, the program suffered just one losing campaign during his regime.
In 13 seasons, Carey's Salem teams made seven postseason appearances (two NAIA and five NCAA Division II) and won five WVIAC championships (1993, 1994, 1997, 1998, 1999).
Three times the WVIAC tournament champion, the Tigers were twice participants in the Division II Elite Eight, ranked No. 1 in the country during two seasons and played in the Division II Final Four in 1997. A four-time WVIAC coach of the year (1994, 1997-99), Carey twice was named NCAA Division II East Region coach of the year (1997, 1999).
In his last season before coming to Morgantown, Carey's Tigers were 26-7, ranked as high as No. 4 nationally and advanced to the NCAA East Region finals. Carey's career record at Salem was 288-102; his record during the last five years of his tenure was 138-20. He had also served as director of athletics at Salem since 1989.
Before going to Salem as an assistant coach in 1987, Carey coached for seven years in the West Virginia high school ranks, serving as girls' basketball coach at Flemington and Clarksburg Liberty High Schools. In 1986, he was Harrison County and Big 10 coach of the year, as Liberty advanced to the regional finals. As boys' coach in 1987, he led Liberty to conference, county and sectional titles.
Carey was a four-year basketball letterman at Salem, earning WVIAC freshman of the year (1977), WVIAC scoring champion (1978) and Salem MVP and WVIAC all-tournament team (1979) honors while scoring more than 2,000 career points. He was a 1993 inductee into the Salem Athletic Hall of Fame.
A native of Clarksburg, W.Va., Carey is a 1980 Salem graduate with a bachelor's degree in physical education. He received his master's degree from Salem in 1988. Carey and his wife, the former Cheryl Minnix, have four children -- Chris, Chelsy, Craig and Chelby.