Doubling Up In First Game, Oscar Tshiebwe Still Focused On Receiving Coaching

West Virginia forward Oscar Tshiebwe (34) clears space against Duquesne's Bailey Steele (44)
West Virginia forward Oscar Tshiebwe (34) clears space against Duquesne's Bailey Steele (44)

Doubling Up In First Game, Oscar Tshiebwe Still Focused On Receiving Coaching

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — West Virginia center Oscar Tshiebwe has played in national-level AAU events and All-Star games during his young basketball career, but he admits that his first game on the collegiate level, even though it was only of the exhibition variety, was a different animal.

“This one did feel a little bit different,” he admitted after WVU’s 78-70 win over Duquesne. “The coaches, they told me, you need to play hard. If you don’t play hard, it’s not good. You play hard, and if you need to come out for a minute, put your hand up and come out for a minute and rest, and then go back in. That’s why I came out and played with a high motor, running the floor. I was motivated to play hard and win the game. If you play hard, you help motivate your teammates.”

West Virginia forward Oscar Tshiebwe dunks
West Virginia forward Oscar Tshiebwe dunks

Tshiebwe has said all the right things while coming in as a highly-touted recruit, and has backed them up with good practice habits while showing them in both of WVU’s public events to date. Against the Dukes, who featured quality big men such as Michael Hughes and Baylee Steele, Tshiebwe recorded 17 points and 14 rebounds, including eight on the offensive end.

“That is good preparation before we jump into the Big 12,” he said of the opposition inside. “In high school there were some bigs, but not like this. So for me, it was good. I have to know how to post up and finish. By the time we get into the Big 12 I am going to be ready to go.”

Tshiebwe acknowledged there are still many things he has to learn, but a double-double in 27 minutes of action is an impressive showing. He’ll have to overcome outsized expectations – one fan yelled, ‘Come on, do something’ at one point late in the first half – but he’s taking all of the support and attention in stride.

“They were going crazy a little bit,” he said of the attention he receives. “We need to make people happy. We need to bring this team back to the way it used to be.”

During the game, West Virginia’s coaches were up a bit more than usual, coaching Tshiebwe and the other newcomers constantly. That reinforcement has been well-received by a team that listens to the staff and is trying to implement what it hears. Like most teaching environments, it’s a process of show and demonstrate, go out and play, then get feedback.

“It was kind of the same things,” Tshiebwe said of the mid-game instruction before giving an example. “The coaches say you cannot let your guy beat you and go straight line to the rim. If  somebody gets beat, you have to make sure you help. You help, somebody else will help you, too. You cannot let your teammates down by letting them go straight to the rim. That’s not great basketball.”

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Expectations aside, Tshiebwe showed plenty of fundamental basketball in his debut, which in the end, is great basketball in the eyes of the coaching staff. While he struggled at the free throw line, hitting just three of his seven attempts with a couple of clunkers, he does have what looks to be a solid shooting motion. He offset that by running the floor very well and crashing the glass repeatedly on both ends of the floor.

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Tshiebwe reunited with high school teammate Maceo Austin, who signed with Duquesne after helping Tshiebwe and Kennedy Catholic High School to back-to-back Pennsylvania state championships. The two shared some on-court chats while lined up next to each other during free throws.

“It was very fun,” Tshiebwe said with a big smile. “He called me before the game and asked ‘What do you think?’ I said we need to just play the game and have fun. We miss playing with each other, but that’s big boy basketball now.”

The by-play didn’t involve any trash-talking, even of the good-natured variety.

“No, it was all good,” the 6-foot-9, 258-pound Mountaineer noted. “He did ask me ‘Do you want to go to dinner after the game?’ and I said we’d talk about it after the game. He played good.”

Austin, a 6-foot-5, 190-pound shooting guard, got the start in Duquesne’s backcourt and finished with six points, an assist and two steals in 32 minutes.

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