Morgantown, West Virginia – In the past, when the West Virginia Mountaineers struggled, Bob Huggins said he would fix it and we believed it. Now, following three consecutive losses and a very challenging schedule ahead, turning it around seems like an unlikely, overwhelming task for the legendary head coach.
Lack of Interior Presence
This West Virginia team has a lot of flaws and it begins and ends with the poor play of the interior players. The Mountaineers are now consistently out-rebounded and Bob Huggins said in his postgame today that “we don’t rebound.” Bob Huggins’ teams don’t get out-rebounded.
Not only does West Virginia struggle to rebound, they also have a hard time finishing around the rim. The ESPN commentator saying that he’s “never seen a team miss so many shots from 2 feet away” is unfortunately extremely accurate.
This has a lot to do with the interior players that Huggins brought in. Gabe Osabuohien, Isaiah Cottrell, Pauly Paulicap and Dimon Carrigan are all capable of contributing in different ways, but none of them are true interior scorers. Osabuohien is a garbage man. He’s one of the best garbage men in the country but he’s still a garbage man. Cottrell is playing out of position and is more of a perimeter player. Paulicap and Carrigan are defensive players.
Not many games are going to be won by a team that doesn’t rebound and struggles to make easy shots, particularly in one of the best conferences in the nation.
Unfortunately, this isn’t an easy fix. As great as Bob Huggins is, he’s not ever going to turn Osabuohien, Cottrell, Paulicap or Carrigan into the interior threat that his team so desperately needs.
West Virginia had 17 turnovers in today’s loss at Texas Tech, many of which were players throwing the ball away or dribbling off their own leg. Taking care of the ball is one of the most fundamentally important things a team must do to be competitive, and again, West Virginia just isn’t doing it right now.
No Reliable, Consistent Third Scorer
Although Taz Sherman and Sean McNeil have been relatively consistent scorers this season, rarely do they both have great games at the same time. One typically steps up while the other has an off night or isn’t relied on as much.
With that said, the need for a reliable, consistent third scorer can’t be overstated enough. Jalen Bridges is the obvious answer, but he simply disappears far too often. As talented as he is, it doesn’t appear that he’s ready to take on the kind of the role that the Mountaineers need from him quite yet.
Malik Curry has shown real promise over the last three games, so perhaps he will continue to step up as the team’s legitimate third scorer. Sherman and McNeil are two of the finest scorers Bob Huggins has ever had at West Virginia, but it’s becoming clear that they can’t do it on their own.