Did Big O Stop Working Hard?

Morgantown, West Virginia – During West Virginia’s opening game against South Dakota State, the announce team of Doug Sherman and Chris Spatola briefly touched on something that was very, very surprising.

Sherman said something along the lines of, “Oscar (Tshiebwe) told me he didn’t spend a lot of time working on his game this offseason.”

This was shocking to hear because 1.) Bob Huggins demands that his players work hard and 2.) Tshiebwe has been a known gym rat since arriving in Morgantown.

Through 2 games, Tshiebwe has not looked like the typical Oscar Tshiebwe that we saw last season.  In the season opener, Tshiebwe got into early foul trouble and finished with only 7 points and 3 rebounds on 3-5 shooting.  In the second game, he showed improvement, scoring 11 points (4-9 FG) and 16 rebounds.

However, Tshiebwe didn’t look like himself.  He appears to have regressed offensively with his back to the basket and his jumpshot suddenly looks weird.  Tshiebwe’s 18 points so far this season have come on very easy one-foot shots following outstanding post-entry passes from Derek Culver.

In fact, Tshiebwe has missed several easy layup opportunities and has yet to show the above-the-rim explosiveness that he’s capable of.  But it’s not just the regression in his offensive game, it’s Tshiebwe’s lack of fire that has been most glaring.

Tshiebwe seems to be going through the motions right now and looks lost most of the time early.  Again, this is only through two games, but Tshiebwe’s lack of intensity combined with the ESPN announcer’s claim that he “didn’t put in the same effort this offseason” is concerning.

For West Virginia to be one of the best teams in the country this season, Oscar Tshiebwe will need to be Oscar Tshiebwe, the ultra-talented physical freak that gets every rebound, plays above the rim offensively and shuts down the opposing team’s best interior player.

Oscar Tshiebwe has an incredible future ahead of him, but it starts with hard work here at West Virginia and a deep run in the NCAA Tournament.