West Virginia’s Missing Pieces of the Puzzle

Cover Photo by David Purdy/Getty Images)

Morgantown, West Virginia – Although the West Virginia Mountaineers are currently 13-5 this season, their weaknesses and flaws have really been exposed during their three-game losing streak.

West Virginia is ranked 243rd in the nation in rebounds per game, averaging 34.6. The Mountaineers rank 334th out of 358 teams in defensive rebounds per game with 22.8.

West Virginia’s field goal percentage isn’t any better. The Mountaineers are 252nd in the nation in field goal percentage, shooting 42.7% from the field as a team.

With that said, Bob Huggins lost his two best big men last season. Derek Culver made a poor decision when he decided to enter the 2021 NBA Draft. Even though he averaged 14.3 points and 9.4 rebounds per game, and was a 1st team All Big 12 Conference player last season, he was not considered by anyone to be a real professional prospect.

Oscar Tshiebwe appears to have made the very best possible move by going to Kentucky, where he’s a National Player of the Year candidate, averaging 16.1 points and a nation’s best 14.8 rebounds per game.

To say that West Virginia misses Culver and Tshiebwe this year is a massive understatement. Both were exaggerated versions of exactly what the Mountaineers need right now. Culver and Tshiebwe are/were high energy rebounders/defenders who could score around the rim.

Neither Culver or Tshiebwe were particularly polished scorers, but their shear physical dominance and strength made them difficult for any team to stop. Culver’s back-to-the-basket post game would open up so many perimeter scoring opportunities for Taz Sherman, Sean McNeil and Jalen Bridges. Oscar Tshiebwe’s energy and uncanny ability to track down rebounds would instantly take West Virginia from being the worst rebounding team in the Big 12 to one of the very best.

The untimely losses of Derek Culver and Oscar Tshiebwe have led to the current state of the West Virginia basketball program. Unfortunately, the Mountaineers not only lose a huge part of their scoring when Taz Sherman, Malik Curry and Sean McNeil leave the team next season, they will also lose most of their rebounding with the losses of Gabe Osabuohien, Dimon Carrigan and Pauly Paulicap.