The West Virginia Mountaineers (17-4, 5-3) have the size, strength, skill and depth to beat any other team in the nation, but Head Coach Bob Huggins will need to make some changes for the team to win a National Championship this season.
There are far too many scoring droughts for the Mountaineers right now and going 5, 6, 7 or 8 minutes without a score will not win many games in the NCAA Tournament. A lineup of Brandon Knapper, Chase Harler, Emmitt Matthews, Jr., Gabe Osabuohien and Logan Routt, for example, will always struggle to score because none of these players are particularly good at creating their own shots.
Huggins must make certain that a scorer who can create shots is always on the court. Taz Sherman, Miles McBride and Sean McNeil should be on the floor way more often because they have the ability to hit perimeter shots, which will open up the paint for interior players Oscar Tshiebwe and Derek Culver.
Re-visit the Press
When the Mountaineers become “Press Virginia”, it causes problems for the opposing team, particularly in March when coaches don’t have time to prepare for it. The chaos creates turnovers and easy points for the Mountaineers and this seems like a very obvious way to win games in the NCAA Tournament.
West Virginia has plenty of depth and is capable of wearing out teams with a constant full-court press. If Huggins decides to not go back to it full-time, he should certainly consider using it in spurts to confuse teams at critical times in games.
Stop Giving the Ball to Gabe Osabuohien at the Top of the Key
Gabe Osabuohien is an outstanding rebounder, defender and trash man, but he should not have the ball in his hands at the top of the West Virginia offense and he certainly shouldn’t be forced into being a playmaker or decision-maker.
One of the mystifying things about this West Virginia team is Osabuohien getting the ball at the top of the key, then penetrating and throwing up a double-pump contested layup or throwing the ball away. This is not a strategy that will win many games for the Mountaineers.
Consider Playing Culver and Tshiebwe Separately
The experiment of playing Derek Culver and Oscar Tshiebwe together has not been succcessful. For whatever reason, they don’t play well together and that doesn’t appear that it’s going to change anytime soon.
Rather, imagine a fresh, bouncy Oscar Tshiebwe coming off the bench to replace Culver once he inevitably gets into foul trouble. Playing Tshiebwe and Culver together is essentially a waste of one of them because they never both play good at the same time. Playing only one of them gives them more room and freedom to work in the interior, and it would give West Virginia a lot more flexibility with their offense.
This West Virginia team is a National Championship-caliber team, but it is far from perfect and needs the aforementioned tweaks to reach its full potential now and when it really matters in March.
In addition, just as a side note for my readers, challenging Bob Huggins is not anti-West Virginia. Rather, my expertise is given only to advance the Mountaineers and offer solutions to problems.