Mountaineers on the Rebound

January 15, 2020






A year ago Bob Huggins was looking to replace All-American defender and floor general Jevon Carter and senior leader Daxter Miles. He knew it would be impossible to replicate what the two brought experience and energy wise to the floor. What he didn’t knkw was how the team was going to completely crumble without both of them on the floor. The Mountaineers finished the 2019 season with a 4-14 conference record and with 15-21 overall marking easily Coach Huggins worst record since taking over his home state team. At the end of the season Huggins pleaded with all 1.8 million in the state that his team plays for saying “I will fix this!” Huggins started this process in the middle of last season by kicking junior Wesley Harris and Senior Esa Ahmad off the team for what was said to be “conduct detrimental to the program.” Following that James “Beetle” Bolden grad transferee to Alabama shortly after leaving the team mid year and then the premier shot blocker in the country Sagaba Konate saga ended with him declaring for the draft. Huggins countered all that by going out and bringing in the Mcdonald’s All American and Big 12 preseason Freshman of the Year Oscar Tshiebwe, Cincinnati native and two sport star Miles McBride along with two of the nations top Junior College scorers in Taz Sherman and sharp shooter Sean McNeil. The final piece to the puzzle may have been adding defensive stand out Gabe Osabuohien a transfer from Arkansas whom was granted immediate eligibility. Huggins vow to “FIX IT” has proven to be correct as the Mountaineers are all the way up to 12th in the Associated Press poll and 13th in the Coaches Poll. The high praise doesn’t stop there ESPN’s own Fran Fraschilla calls West Virginia “the best defensive team in all the country.” He also went onto day the only think holding them back is a consistent scoring. He’s not wrong while Huggins‘ team will strangle you with their defense by only allowing 59 points per game. The offense has been somewhat anemic while they are averaging 72 ppg most of that is attributed to second chance points where they sit at 4th best in the country. Mcdonald’s All American Oscar Tshiebwe is nearly averaging a double-double on the year at 12 points per game and 9 rebounds per game. Fellow big man Derek Culver is also closing in on a double-double average at 10 ppg and 9 rpg. Along with freshman phenom Tshiebwe, freshman Miles McBride has emerged as the top guard scoring threat off the bench he’s averaging 10 a game but has shown the ability to have huge games in big moments with 22 against at the time 17th ranked Texas Tech and 21 on a somewhat neutral floor in Cleveland against then number 2 ranked Ohio State. If West Virginia’s guard play can mature and give a consistent effort on the offensive side of the court the sky really might be the limit for Huggins‘ young basketball team. The Mountaineers will be one of the teams in March you don’t want to see in a short turnaround game in the tournament. Their length and effort will make it tough for anyone to score especially on tired legs. This West Virginia team hands down is the deepest team in the country they have 11 guys averaging more than 10 minutes per game and a 12th who sees 8 minutes a game. This team will wear you down on the glass and on the defensive side of the court. Going forward West Virginia will only be underdog in road games against Baylor and Texas Tech. With Kansas losing a home game to Baylor already the Mountaineers and Bears could be the teams to finally take the Big 12 crown from the Jayhawks.

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