Note: Questioning Bob Huggins does not often go over well with West Virginia fans. In fact, I know what I’m getting myself into when I do so and unlike every other media member in the state, I’m only bound by truth, reason and what’s best for the Mountaineers. With that said…
You can’t have a starting lineup in college basketball without a shooter capable of hitting consistently from three point range. The Mountaineers’ starters (McCabe, Haley, Matthews, Tshiebwe and Culver) are shooting just 26% from behind the arc and no one in this lineup can be relied on to hit big shots. Instead, opposing teams are able to “pack it in” in the paint, which makes it very difficult for any interior players to produce.
Immediate changes should happen and the most glaringly obvious adjustment in the starting lineup should be Jordan McCabe. McCabe has been an incredible disappointment this season and he is a liability defensively. He’s a fine young man, I’m sure, and a tremendous asset in the locker room and in practices, but you can’t have a starting point guard shooting 27% from the field and 20% from three point range and expect to be successful. His 13.5 minutes per game should be divided among Brandon Knapper, who has been greatly improved and is a better defender, and Jermaine Haley, whose natural position is point guard.
Taz Sherman, Sean McNeil and Miles McBride, the team’s only three pure scorers, need more minutes. Huggins will need to be more creative with his lineups to get these three players in the game more often because there are too many scoring droughts and moments of complete ineffectiveness on offense.
A three guard lineup of McBride, McNeil and Sherman paired with Tshiebwe and Culver would not only be effective, it would be downright dangerous, and there would be almost no dropoff in rebounding or on the defensive side of the ball.
West Virginia will continue to beat teams that they are far more talented than, but a good coach will make the Mountaineers hit perimeter shots and right now the starting lineup is not capable of doing that. Bob Huggins has a team that can go far in the NCAA Tournament and do some real damage in March, but he must make immediate adjustments to his rotations to get scorers on the floor.