Development Process Continuing For Tshiebwe, WVU
MORGANTOWN, W.Va — If there has been any lesson to be learned from the 7-1 start West Virginia’s men’s basketball team has gotten off to, it is that you can’t be great without talent but just having talent doesn’t give you a one-way ticket to the Hall of Fame, either.
Case in point: Oscar Tshiebwe.
Every other game, or so it seems, Tshiebwe displays his jaw-dropping talent, but in the other games he displays just how crude his game can be.
Here is his scoring log for the year, game by game: 5-20-4-21-6-19-11-8
And here is his rebounding log for the year, game by game: 4-17-7-10-2-18-9-6.
From four to 21 points, from two to 18 rebounds … he is a flower about to bloom but one who has not yet been watered enough or given enough time to grow.
And, on this young team, he has a lot of company who are talented but still trying to find their way through the minefield that is big time college basketball.
Just as head coach Bob Huggins was nurturing Derek Culver through his freshman season a year ago, he now is doing the same with Tshiebwe and guard Miles “Deuce” McBride, among others. Certainly the greatest emphasis is on getting the five-star recruit Tshiebwe to play at a consistently high level.
“He’s had two years of organized basketball, really,” Huggins said recently. “Quite frankly, he’s been bigger, stronger and better than everybody he has played against. This is all new to him. He hasn’t played against a guy like Derek, who plays against in practice every day, or like Logan Routt. He’s been the guy. He has picked up some bad habits because he was so much better than everyone he played.”
The good news in trying to get to Tshiebwe is that he is well aware of this and is willing to spend time working on the new things he learns, such as shooting a bank shot.
“In high school I really didn’t have a bank shot. If I caught the ball in the low post I always had a littler guy on me,” Tshiebwe admits.
But Huggins, through Coach Erik Martin, has emphasized that he needs to expand his game and add the banker, something he used at key moment against Rhode Island.
“This bank shot comes from Coach Erik Martin, every single time he say ‘Bank shot, bank shot,’” Tshiebwe said.
And so he has attacked it like a man possessed.
“They say the more you practice, you get muscle memory. I practice in the gym and believe me, I have spent a lot of time on the bank shot,” Tshiebwe said. “I shoot like a thousand every day. I’ll go to sleep, my arm and shoulder is really tired. That’s how hard it is. The more you shoot, you don’t have to look at your hands. As soon as you see the square, you know where the ball is going.”
“I feel like the bank shot is the shot for me. I love it and I feel like 95% is going in, 5% you will miss. Every time you get the ball in the square, it will go in,” Tshiebwe said.
“Oscar’s come a long, long way,” Huggins said after that Rhode Island game. “Go back and remember when we first started and Oscar was banging the ball off the backboard before it hit the rim from the free-throw like. He’s not doing that any more. He’ll put the time in.”
What’s made it easier for Huggins is that even though he has two budding stars in the post in Tshiebwe and Culver, they are working with each other and committed to the team.
“I try to show him the ropes just like I wish somebody had kind of helped me last year,” Culver said.
“He is not about the individual,” Tshiebwe said of Culver. “He is about the team. The last time we played at home he was on fire. Our team is not selfish. Our team is really good about giving the ball to the person who is producing.
“Next time it might be me and I’m getting the ball and scoring all the time. If I’m doing that they will get me the ball all the time.”