A big loss, an uncertain timetable
Less than 24 hours before the West Virginia women’s basketball team left for an 11-day trip to Italy and Greece, news broke that fifth-year senior Tynice Martin had been suspended indefinitely. The West Virginia MetroNews confirmed that Martin would miss the trip, which began on Sunday with a flight from Washington, DC, to Rome, Italy.
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In announcing Martin’s suspension, the West Virginia Athletics Communications Department said only, “West Virginia University women’s basketball senior guard Tynice Martin has been suspended indefinitely due to a violation of team rules.” A member of the department declined further comment to High Post Hoops on Monday.
As one of the Mountaineers’ three seniors and a player who passed up the 2019 WNBA Draft to return to Morgantown, Martin was expected to have a starring role this season. Last year, she averaged 18.0 points, 5.8 rebounds, and 1.6 steals per game in nearly 37 minutes per game. According to Her Hoop Stats, each of those numbers except for rebounds ranked among the top 10% of Division I players nationally. She also turned the ball over on just 8.3% of her possessions, which ranked in the 99th percentile. In her career, Martin has twice been named to the All-Big 12 First Team and is currently eleventh on West Virginia’s all-time scoring list.
A week before her suspension, Martin told High Post Hoops how excited she was for the trip and the upcoming season. This was set to be her second foreign tour after the team traveled to Europe four years ago. “It’s very exciting for everyone,” she said. “I’m excited for the tour in general because I’ve never been there. … Greece sounds like a pretty cool place and … I’m excited to see it in person.”
Martin added that the trip comes at a good time for the Mountaineers, who will have six new players this season and have also changed up their coaching staff under longtime head coach Mike Carey. Martin explained, “I think it’s very important. [It] just forces us to play as a team early instead of waiting until October, November. … I think this trip will do a lot for team chemistry [and] team bonding.” When asked which newcomers stood out in the practices leading up to the trip, Martin pointed to sophomore Rochelle Norris, who is recovering well from an ACL injury suffered in the 2018 preseason, and 6’5” junior college transfer Blessing Ejiofor, who will add to the team’s size and depth in the frontcourt.
It remains to be seen what impact Martin’s absence will have on the team’s tour or its chemistry ahead of the 2019-20 season, and it is unclear how soon Martin might return to the Mountaineers. What is certain, however, is that their odds of contending in a Big 12 that features the defending national champion (Baylor) are significantly lower without their do-everything fifth-year senior.
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