Absence Highlights Importance of WVU’s Sherman, Osabuohien

West Virginia guard Taz Sherman gets an acrobatic shot away

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Sometimes you don’t appreciate what you have until you don’t have it any more, and so it was last weekend when West Virginia men’s basketball went to Texas and didn’t have Taz Sherman.

Slow down, now. I know you appreciated Sherman and the 21 points per game he was scoring for the Mountaineers.

But seeing them flail around out on the court while losing to Texas without him — to say nothing of Gabe Osabuohien, the team’s Mr. Energy, and backup guard Kobe Johnson — drove the point home of just how good he is and how bad the Mountaineers can look without him.

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WVU head coach Bob Huggins believes Sherman is the best player in the league. And that was the unequivocal statement he made in the wake of the loss to the Longhorns.

“Obviously when you play without the best player in the league it’s going to affect you,” Huggins said. “He’s been the best player in the league so far. That hurt us.”

As of early Friday, there was no word whether any of the three who missed the Texas game would be back for Saturday’s meeting with Kansas State … or if any other teammates would join them in the COVID-19 protocols amd be uavailable for play.

The only thing WVU would say is that the protocol is a fluid situation and it could change from day to day, hour to hour.

But without Sherman, WVU did not have a go-to scorer, for his absence allowed Texas to bear down on Sean McNeil, who you would figure would step into that role.

It doesn’t work that way.

“They gang up on him,” Huggins said. “That makes it more difficult, much more difficult. What are they fond of saying in the NBA is Robin’s no good without Batman. He gets so much more attention, particularly when you are playing on a team with so many guys struggling to make shots.”

Some of that was a stingy Texas defense, but more likely what took WVU apart without Sherman’s ability to score was a game filled with 20 turnovers.

At times the Mountaineers seemed lost, both offensively and defensively, and Jalen Bridges understands why.

“Taz and Gabe, those are our two senior leaders. They are our veterans. It’s definitely going to be a struggle without them.”

Kobe brings a lot to the table as well, but Huggins sees more than that though.

“That being said, we can’t turn it over 20 times, particularly since they’ve been told since we began official practice that what’s going to beat us is ourselves,” Huggins stressed. “We are not going to win turning it over 20 times, particularly against a team like that.”

The veteran coach was hesitant to even give a lot of credit to the defense Texas threw at them.

“We threw it to them. They didn’t take it from us much. We threw it to them. We have been very careless with the ball since the beginning,” Huggins said. “We talked about it, worked on it, got them on the “Pass-back. We did all that before we started official practice and it hasn’t helped any, so we are going to have come up with something else. We’re going to have to sit those guys who turn it over.”

West Virginia forward Gabe Osabuohien (left) wins a floor fight for a loose ball

But being shorthanded makes life tough. Practices are disrupted, game plans adjusted, and confidence eroded when you can’t put your complete team on the floor and when it is two or three key players in basketball it becomes a major hurdle to overcome.

Huggins isn’t one to give in and he remains hopeful that he can be closer to having a full roster to work with.

“We’re going to continue to do our job, just like you would continue to do your job. There’s nothing we can do about it. We can’t change it,” he said.

And play will continue right to the end.

“There’s going to be an NCAA Tournament. They can’t not make any money again. They were broke last year. They need this in the worst way, so they will find a way to have an NCAA Tournament. In terms of us, we’ll do the best we can possibly do.”

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Home Page forums Absence Highlights Importance of WVU’s Sherman, Osabuohien

Home Page forums Absence Highlights Importance of WVU’s Sherman, Osabuohien