Making the Transition
MORGANTOWN, W. Va. – Freshman year in college is a year full of changes and transitions for each student, regardless of status.
For many young adults, it marks the first time they’ve ever truly been away from home for any length of time. They have to get used to new developments such as classes being held twice a week instead of every day, and they have to learn how to manage their time wisely.
By the time sophomore year rolls around, however, most students have figured out the system. They can look back at their freshman year and notice the changes they made in order to adapt to a new lifestyle. Now a sophomore herself, women’s basketball center Asya Bussie has noticed how things have changed since last year, especially when it concerns her physical abilities and game.
“My body has definitely changed since I’ve been here,” she said. “I’m still not in the best shape, but it’s a lot better than it was when I first came here. On the court, my jump shots have definitely improved along with making post moves. Overall, my entire game has improved.”
These improvements have been necessary because of the differences between the high school and college game, another distinction that Bussie picked up on during her freshman year.
“The intensity of the college game is a lot different. For one thing, college games last longer. The defenders also play different, which really affects play. Coach (Mike) Carey has taught me a lot both on and off the court during the past year,” said Bussie.
Bussie came into the Mountaineer program one year ago as a highly touted recruit. Rated as the 14th best post player and the 47th best player in the country by ESPN as a high school senior, Bussie showed great talent and potential to become a standout college athlete. She didn’t disappoint in her freshman season, leading the team in field goal percentage (.472) and becoming WVU’s all-time freshman blocks leader. A unanimous choice for the all–BIG EAST freshman team, Bussie also posted two double-double games against Nevada and Providence.
Bussie attributes part of her success to the strong team leadership exhibited by older players Sarah Miles, Liz Repella, and Madina Ali.
“Sarah, Liz and Madina have the most leadership on the team,” Bussie said. “They’ve all been here for four years and they know how the program is run and how Coach Carey is. When we’re falling apart they always have something to say to bring us all together. They’re the ones who text us to tell us where to be for team meetings and to let us know if anything changes for practice or conditioning.”
She attributes another part of her success to Carey.
“Coach Carey is really into the game. He’s really intense and wants things done right, which is motivating because we know that he just wants the best from us and he really loves what he’s doing.”
Both methods of motivation have worked as Bussie posted the most blocks since 1986 during her freshman season, was tied for third in scoring (10.1 ppg.), and led the team with 104 offensive rebounds.
Despite her obvious talent and solid performances, Bussie admits to being nervous before the start of each game.
“I still get nervous before every game,” said Bussie with a laugh. “I even get nervous before practice. But once the game or practice starts and I get in a rhythm my butterflies go away.”
Because the season is still two months away, Bussie hasn’t focused on personal goals yet, but she does plan to do everything she can to help her team reach a national championship, something that she believes can be done through hard work and solid team preparation.
“We prepare for every game the same way. We go over scouting reports and we review each player so that we know how to compete against them in player position. Every game is serious and we don’t take any team lightly or for granted.”
Listening to Bussie describe the ins and outs of the Mountaineer team makes it hard to believe that only a year and half ago, she was struggling to decide which school she wanted to attend. Her choice ultimately came down to West Virginia and Miami, both schools having heavily recruited her. Yet all it took was one visit to West Virginia and Bussie knew she wanted to be a Mountaineer.
“I felt really comfortable with the coaching staff when I first met them, and I got along really well with the players who were already here. I also really liked the town and had the opportunity to attend a football game when I came to visit so I got to see the how the fans acted and how into it they were.”
Those weren’t the only factors influencing her decision, however. Bussie is very close with her family, and in the end didn’t want to travel too far away. A native of Randallstown, Md., West Virginia University provided a great opportunity for her family to come see her play.
“My family does come to a lot of games,” said Bussie. “My mom also came to visit me a lot during the summer just to see how I was doing, and my brother attends school nearby so he comes to a lot of games too. They can’t make it to every game, but they do come to a lot.”
Bussie credits her mom with giving her a start in basketball.
“The first time I ever played basketball was when I was eight years old,” she said with a grin. “My two older brothers both played basketball and my mom put me in every other sport but everyone kept telling her that I should play basketball so I tried it out and I liked it.”
Now, 11 years later, Bussie is ready to start her sophomore season with the Mountaineers, one that looks to be promising as the team returns seven players from last season, which culminated in a second-round run at the NCAA tournament.
“I think WVU is a really good fit for me, and I’m glad I chose this school,” Bussie said.
The Mountaineer Nation is glad she chose it, too.
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