Huggins Sees Both Good And Bad In Gold-Blue Debut
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – In any intrasquad scrimmage, there are going to be some things a coach likes and some things he doesn’t.
So it was for West Virginia head basketball coach Bob Huggins, who saw both good and bad during Friday’s Gold-Blue Debut, which the Gold team won 67-54.
Many from the WVU Coliseum crowd, which was listed at 6,000, stayed around to get autographs from the players after the scrimmage.
While the Mountaineer players were providing their signatures on posters, basketballs, hats, jerseys and every other article imaginable, Huggins was meeting with the press, dissecting the individual and overall performances.
“We have multiple guys who can score, and I think that’s good,” said Huggins, who is starting his 13th season as the head coach at his alma mater. “We probably defended better today than we’ve defended in practice, and that’s good.
“We threw it around too much,” he added. “We throw it around in practice. We had 14 turnovers (Blue) and 11 (Gold). We can live with 11, but 14 is too much. We’ve got to get better at not turning it over. We’ve got to get shots.”
West Virginia’s big men had a bulk of the turnovers, as Logan Routt and Oscar Tshiebwe Were each tagged with four turnovers, and Derek Culver had two. But those post players made up for those miscues by scoring. Tshiebwe, the heralded freshman, and Culver tied for the Blue lead with 15 points each. Routt had 12 for the Gold, which also got 18 points from Taz Sherman, 15 from Jermaine Haley and 11 from Deuce McBride.
“The Blue got outrebounded (34-31). How do you get outrebounded when you have Derek and Oscar on that side?” pondered Huggins. “Oscar held up his end with 11, but Derek with three? That’s not good enough. He missed enough of his own shots, though (Culver was 7-of-13), that he may have actually had more than three.”
Arkansas transfer Gabe Osabuohien, whose eligibility for this coming season still is to be determined, topped the Gold rebounding effort. The 6-foot-8 junior had eight boards to go along with seven points and a game-high four assists.
“He is like that every day,” Huggins said of Osbuohien’s high motor. “He plays really hard every day. He handles the ball and passes it really well for a big. He’s active, really active.”
Of the veterans, sophomore guard Jordan McCabe had six points but no assists; sophomore forward Emmitt Matthews had eight points and five rebounds; sophomore guard Brandon Knapper missed all four of his shots and had zero points but three assists; and senior guard Chase Harler, who has been battling a back injury as of late, finished with two points.
Two newcomers, Taz Sherman and Sean McNeil, impressed with their perimeter shooting. Sherman was 4-of-6 from three-point range, while McNeil was 2-of-4.
“I thought they were (WVU’s best outside shooters) when we recruited them,” stated Huggins. “I think they are our two best shooters now. We’re counting on them. We’re going to end up playing three guards (a lot). Emmitt is really our only small forward. Jalen (Bridges, a 6-foot-7 true freshman) is going to redshirt, so Emmitt is our only small forward. We’re going to have to play with three guards.”
The 6-foot-9 Tshiebwe added two assists, two blocks and three steals to his stat line, which also included 7-of-11 shooting from the floor. The freshman still has things to learn yet, his coach said.
“The thing about Oscar is he wants to be good,” said Huggins. “He’ll get the practice tape and now this tape, and he’ll learn from that.
“I’ve said it a lot, but this is a game of neuromuscular integration, and when you haven’t done things, it takes a while for those things to come – I wouldn’t say natural because you’ve worked at it – but just becomes part of your neuromuscular system,” Huggins said of Tshiebwe’s adaptation to WVU’s system.
“He was so much bigger and stronger than everyone in high school that he got away with things,” West Virginia’s coach added. “But with us, he doesn’t overpower Derek and he doesn’t overpower Logan and for that matter, he doesn’t overpower Gabe. That’s a great thing for him, because now he’s forced every day to do things more fundamentally sound than what he’s used to doing.”
Tshiebwe and the rest of the Mountaineers will host Duquesne in an exhibition at the WVU Coliseum on Friday, Nov. 1, and then West Virginia will tip off the regular season the next Friday, Nov. 8, when Akron comes to Morgantown.