Running The Court Key For WVU’s Oscar Tshiebwe
He scores. He rebounds. He’s big. He’s tough.
Oscar Tshiebwe has it all, but what he does best may come under none of the above.
Oscar Tshiebwe can run and that may just be what will separate him from the pack in college basketball.
On Saturday night in Pittsburgh, Tshiebwe used his sprinter’s speed and marathoner’s stamina to dominate Pitt as West Virginia won its fourth straight game in the Backyard Brawl rivalry, 68-53.
After working through his first game as a college player with seven points and seven rebounds against Akron, Tshiebwe was a man among boys in scoring 20 points and grabbing off 17 rebounds in his first game on a national network (ESPNU).
Why the difference? He ran.
“My coach told me to do the thing you can do best. I can rebound and run. I know if someone is guarding you I can make them run. If I run them a lot, no one is going to keep up with me,” Tshiebwe said.
“The conversation we had was that good players do what they are good at doing,” coach Bob Huggins recalled. “You watch guys who excel — say they can really run, and Oscar can really run — then run. Don’t trot, run. He got other guys open shots because he ran and collapsed the defense.
“I told him he wasn’t active enough against Akron. He was, not in a selfish way, looking to score instead of doing what he does and what he does is rebound the ball probably as good as anybody in college basketball.”
You don’t hear about speed very often in basketball these days.
Quickness? Yes. Jumping ability? Yes. Strength? Yes.
There is a certain irony here. Huggins is trying to get Tshiebwe to run fast while slowing his game down.
“I’m just trying to get him to slow down,” Huggins said. “He goes too fast at times. He has great hands. He takes a beating physically and it doesn’t bother him. It’s hard for them to get the ball out of his hands once he gets it.”
And it paid dividends in the second half as Pitt was too pooped to pop, hitting only three of 25 shots, 12%, in the second half. See, if Tshiebwe runs, the rest of his own team has to run to keep up with him … but that’s what Huggins wants.
He asks only that they play as hard as they can for as long as they can.
“All I said to the team was play as hard as you can play, run as fast as you can run and when you get tired, I’ll sub for you,” Huggins said, adding a warning. “If you don’t play as hard as you can play and run as fast as you can run I’ll take you out and I won’t put you back in.
“But if you ask out, I’ll take you and put you back in.”
And when a reporter asked about why the opponents get worn down, Huggins had a ready response.
“If you were out there running for 40 minutes and had to zig and zag trying to get the ball and as soon as you did you had to drive and then when you are driving someone comes to help so you have to throw it to somebody else and as soon as you do you had to try to get open again I’ll bet your butt will be tired too,” he said.
And there is no rest ahead for WVU, or its opponents, at it is back at it again on Monday at the Coliseum facing Northern Colorado at 7 p.m. in a game that can be seen on AT&T SportsNet.