Taz Sherman Provides Hope For WVU Shooting Woes In Baylor Loss
Once upon a time, many, many, many decades ago, there was a junior high intramural basketball team that found itself matched up in its opening game against a group of players who would, a few years later, go on to make up the heart and soul of a high school team that would finish as runner-up in the New Jersey State Tournament one year and state champion the next.
I know the story, because I was on the losing team that day. Somehow yours truly scored the first two baskets of that game.
They were the only two baskets I scored that day and only two of four that our team scored in a defeat that was something like 76-8.
I bring this up only to let you know I can sympathize with West Virginia this morning.
Been there, done that, just like West Virginia was on Saturday afternoon when it went up against the nation’s No. 1 team, Baylor, a team that simply embarrassed them.
OK, the final score doesn’t tell that story. Baylor’s 22nd consecutive victory, tying the all-time Big 12 record held by Kansas, was only by an 11-point margin at 70-59 but that score is a mirage, for the Mountaineers trailed by 28 points with 10:34 to play.
If you look at it as if the game were broken into quarters rather than halves, WVU would have had 25 points after three quarters had been played. What’s more, it did not score its first basket of the second half until Oscar Tshiebwe hit a bank shot at the 10:14 mark.
The only thing that kept this from being a defeat of biblical proportions was a savior by the name of Taz Sherman.
Sherman had come to West Virginia this season as a reputation as a great — not good, but great — shooter who had been unstoppable in junior college play, but he really hadn’t shown that at any time this season.
But it was funny, there was an indication this would be the day he broke out for on the pregame radio show, Bob Huggins was asked the key to the game for his team and, as expected, he answered:
“Make some shots.”
With that, play by play broadcaster Tony Caridi noted that in the shootaround Saturday morning, Taz Sherman was shooting lights out.
“That reminds me of something when I was playing at West Virginia,” Huggins responded. “We’d have our shootarounds and had this guy, Stevie, and he would just make all kinds of shots. Well, Tony Robertson came up and said to me, ‘That guy’s a 4 o’clock All-American.’”
Huggins didn’t quite get what he was trying to say and asked, ‘What’s that mean.?
“The game starts at 8 o’clock.”
In other words, the only shots that count come between the opening tip and the final horn.
That was what Sherman had been, but on this day he broke out of the cocoon which had enclosed him.
Sherman went into halftime as if this was going to be another of those days. Brought in to get some offense, he missed the only two shots he took in the first half.
But then in the second half he looked like Steph Curry at his greatest, hitting five of five shots from 3-point range, all six of the shots he took for the half and finishing the game with 20 points.
This was a game in which Derek Culver scored three points, Emmitt Matthews zero, Miles McBride five, Chase Harler four and Jordan McCabe two.
All of a sudden, WVU has a shooter … the thing they’ve looked for all season.
It is a ray of sunlight on a dismal day, but with six league games left and with WVU need to win them all, according to Huggins, perhaps he has an option.
In fact, it would not be surprising at all to see them come out when they return home to play Oklahoma State and go with Jermaine Haley at the point, Sherman at the shooting guard, McBride or Haley at another guard spot with Culver and Oscar Tshiebwe inside.
Why not mix and match now? What’s to lose, another game? They already have tasted three defeats in a row.