Early Look At WVU Hoops Future

West Virginia guard Deuce McBride is fouled, vut doesn't ge the call, on a scramble for a loose ball
West Virginia guard Deuce McBride is fouled, but doesn't get the call, on a scramble for a loose ball

Early Look At WVU Hoops Future


MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Already Bob Huggins is looking ahead at his next basketball team, understanding that the most important thing he’s lost is time.

Think about it for a moment. This year’s team went 21-10 and while the seniors it lost — Jermaine Haley, Chase Harler and Logan Routt — were important to that bounce-back from the previous year’s collapse that produced only 15 wins and neither an NCAA nor NIT bid, they weren’t the key figures on the court.

The only other loss to date is guard Brandon Knapper, a guard who suffered through a very difficult season, which finished with him making just two of his final 28 shots. He has entered the transfer portal.

West Virginia forward Oscar Tshiebwe (34) shoots over a pair of vertical Oklahoma defenders
West Virginia forward Oscar Tshiebwe (34) shoots over a pair of vertical Oklahoma defenders

In truth, WVU was one of the youngest teams in college basketball this season, and two of its three best players were freshmen — Oscar Tshiebwe and Miles McBride — while the third was only a sophomore in Derek Culver.

Many have questioned whether Culver and Tshiebwe would leave WVU before next season.

Huggins has an answer for that.

“I think they are coming back. I think they are excited about the possibilities,” he said.

Neither is ready for the NBA at this time and, speaking of Huggins having lost time, they and their teammates may have benefited more than any other team in the nation from playing in the NCAA Tournament.

They would have had practice time and high-pressure game experience, something the team missed the previous year when its post-season play was limited to the Big 12 Championship — where it did surprisingly well — and the low-level CBI.

Huggins sees no real limits on what Tshiebwe and McBride can do next year or in the future.

“They both are surrounded by pretty good people. Deuce has a good family and Oscar, the guy he lives with, Sags lived with him. He’s a great guy. He’s raised six of those African kids. He knows what he’s doing,” Huggins said.

Having Tshiebwe and McBride back, however, gives Huggins an inside and outside presence that this past season promised greatness.

Huggins was asked if he ever had a pair of freshmen as good at WVU.

“Kevin and Devin,” he said.

He was, of course, referring to Kevin Jones and Devin Ebanks.

If he’s right, that portends huge things for those two wound up being key members of the Mountaineers’ Final Four team as sophomores.

McBride, unheralded out of Cincinnati Moeller as he missed time in high school with a broken leg, debuted against Akron and scored 11 points, hitting 3 of 5 field goals, 5 of 6 free throws, grabbing six rebounds and dishing out four assists.

He was ready from the start, finishing the season as the man most likely to take over from the point late in a close game. He did, after scoring in double figures in 10 of 12 games, including a pair of 20-point performances in mid-season, before he hit a wall as freshmen are wont to do.

Not surprisingly, his slump coincided with WVU’s slump during which it lost six of seven games after looking like it might be a No. 2 seed. It’s not a stretch to say it was cause-and-effect either way you looked at it.

McBride, who finished the season averaging 9.5 points a game while splitting time with Jordan McCabe and Knapper, had 56 assists to 41 turnovers, showed to be a solid 3-point shooter and had a surprising 15 blocks, some spectacular.

Tshiebwe, as one might guess from someone who is inexperienced at basketball having spent his youth playing soccer, was inconsistent during the year but some research by play-by-play announcer Tony Caridi showed him to be one of the best freshmen big men to play at WVU since freshmen became eligible in 1973.

Tshiebwe’s 287 rebounds ranked 25th all-time in a single season by WVU player and were the most ever by a WVU freshman since they were made eligible in 1973. The previous record was held by Bob Huggins’ teammate Warren Baker, who pulled down 279 during his freshman season.

Tshiebwe grabbed off 29 more than Derek Culver snared the previous year and were 49 more than Devin Williams had as a freshman and more than Kevin Jones collected in a single year until he was a senior.

Tshiebwe and Culver dominated the boards and when they bring their offensive game up to the same level their rebounding is at, they will overpower the Big 12 inside.

Another key to next season is for Huggins to figure out a way to get Culver to make his free throws. It isn’t that he can’t, for he’s shown an ability to shoot them well.

“If you go back and look at it, if Derek continues to make free throws like he did early in the year …. he made free throws for us down the stretch of games early in the year. Then, all of a sudden he couldn’t buy one,” Huggins said.

Culver opened the year hitting 8 of 8 against Akron and through the first seven games he had hit 32 of 39, which is 82.1%.

From that point on Culver made only 59 of 137 free throws, which is 43.1% — and in that group of games he had one game against Texas Tech where he made 14 of 16.

Take the Texas Tech game away Culver shot just 37.2%, including two games of 3 of 10, 3 of 9, 2 of 8 and 0 of 6, including the final-game upset of Baylor.

“With Derek, it’s a matter of we are going to have to make you do it,” Huggins said. “There are guys who you say, ‘Come in and shoot 100 free throws,’ they come in and shoot 200. We may have to sit on Derek if he doesn’t do it.

“At the end he got a little better and I think he understood how important it is.”

West Virginia freshman Jalen Bridges dunks
West Virginia freshman Jalen Bridges dunks

WVU will also get a lift out of Fairmont Senior’s Jalen Bridges shedding his redshirt and beginning to play, a bigger, stronger and better version of the kid who felt it was best to sit out a year.

“If this year is any indication, he’s going to be a really good perimeter shooter for us,” Huggins said.

Huggins sees him an off-guard who could replace Haley, although Huggins did admit he doesn’t have as many ball skills as Haley does, the senior often moving into the point with McBride at a shooting guard.

Huggins is also looking forward to bring in three signed recruits next year, 6-10 Isaiah Cottrell from Las Vegas who attended Huntington (W.Va.) Prep, Taj Thweatt, a 6-7 forward from Wildwood, New Jersey, out of Wildwood Catholic and 6-3 junior college guard Kedrian Johnson out of Dallas, Texas, who led JUCO in steals with 3.7 per game and was fifth in the country in scoring with 25.6 points a game.




Home Page forums Early Look At WVU Hoops Future

  • This topic has 11 replies, 5 voices, and was last updated by Kevin Kinder.
Viewing 12 posts - 1 through 12 (of 12 total)
  • Author
    Posts
  • #114771

    Early Look At WVU Hoops Future MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Already Bob Huggins is looking ahead at his next basketball team, understanding that the most impor
    [See the full post at: Early Look At WVU Hoops Future]

    #114789

    Biggest question I have is do we see Miles McBride as a top PG in the B12?  This game revolves around a dominate PG.  Without that and some outside shooters we are toast.

    IMO we have shooters ….. if we let them play ….. in Taz, Sean, Bridges,  Johnson and McBride.  We need a floor general to get them the ball, be able to space things out and prove to be a threat driving and dishing in the paint.   Can and will McBride step up his game enough to be that top B12 PG?  Do we take that chance or do we bring another PG in to take control?

    #114805

    I’d say WVU will bring in another player to try to fill the gaps you mention.

     

    #114810

    So KK, you think a PG to run the system ….. or at least push Miles to be a better PG …. is our #1 priority?

    There are other very good PG’s out there.  Shockers G just hit the portal.  That team is falling apart.

    #114816
    JAL

    The future looks promising but this year’s team should not had the slump they did.  They had games where they looked like they could anybody and others where they looked that could not beat anyone.  Need to put a full season of good games like Kansas does.

    #114818

    What this past team lacked was that elite PG.  McCabe and McBride have their moments, but neither have the B12 top PG skills.

    Secondly this team lacked spacing, off ball movement, passing.  Spacing is a function of not having outside shooting and bigs clogging the paint.  Off ball movement and passing are directly related to good PG play IMO.

    #115068

    The team will be as athletic as any we have had in recent memory.  Time to speed up the game.

    #115069

    Need a top PG to speed the game.  Don’t know if we have one.  McBride will be better but is in love with the dribble and isn’t the passer we expect.  McCabe has his limitations.   Kedrian? New recruit?

    #115071

    Speed it up from the defensive side with more pressure and teach O and DC to look for outlet passes after rebounds for more fast breaks.

    #115073

    As I’ve noted several times, lines between traditional positions are blurring, so the idea that a point guard who just passes and distributes isn’t the ideal situation. That said, without question WVU needs someone who can create off the dribble and make good decisions, especially with entry passes and with choices when WVU is running motion.

    If it can find that sort of player, that eases the pressure on others, and might make them better by association. Get one good passe/decision maker, that can result in more good situations where others can join in.

    In no way am I giving up on Deuce being able to perform in those roles – he was just a freshman this year. So, hoping that improvement there, along with perhaps an addition, helps shore this up.

    #115074

    As I’ve noted several times, lines between traditional positions are blurring, so the idea that a point guard who just passes and distributes isn’t the ideal situation. That said, without question WVU needs someone who can create off the dribble and make good decisions, especially with entry passes and with choices when WVU is running motion.

    If it can find that sort of player, that eases the pressure on others, and might make them better by association. Get one good passe/decision maker, that can result in more good situations where others can join in.

    In no way am I giving up on Deuce being able to perform in those roles – he was just a freshman this year. So, hoping that improvement there, along with perhaps an addition, helps shore this up.

    #115075

    As I’ve noted several times, lines between traditional positions are blurring, so the idea that a point guard who just passes and distributes isn’t the ideal situation. That said, without question WVU needs someone who can create off the dribble and make good decisions, especially with entry passes and with choices when WVU is running motion.

    If it can find that sort of player, that eases the pressure on others, and might make them better by association. Get one good passe/decision maker, that can result in more good situations where others can join in.

    In no way am I giving up on Deuce being able to perform in those roles – he was just a freshman this year. So, hoping that improvement there, along with perhaps an addition, helps shore this up.

Viewing 12 posts - 1 through 12 (of 12 total)
  • You must be logged in to reply to this topic.

Home Page forums Early Look At WVU Hoops Future

Home Page forums Early Look At WVU Hoops Future