Big men Oscar Tshiebwe and Derek Culver finished West Virginia’s top-two scorers last season.
The towering duo combined to average 21.6 points per game with Tshiebwe leading the team with an 11.2 average and Culver right behind him at 10.4. The WVU offense ran through the two as Culver finished tied for the team lead with 254 field goal attempts and Tshiebwe was right behind him with 223.
Despite this, West Virginia head coach Bob Huggins said Thursday that the two have a lot of room for improvement this season.
“Derek has spent a lifetime missing easy shots and Oscar has missed plenty of easy shots,” Huggins said. “Obviously, they’ve got to score the ball. They’re working at it, there’s some mechanical things that we’ve got to get straightened out, but it’s hard, it’s hard after you’ve played one way your whole life.”
Culver and Tshiebwe did miss their fair share of shots last season. culver shot 45.7% from the floor and Tshiebwe shot 55.2%. Overall, WVU was one of the weaker shooting teams in the Big 12 with a 42.2% shooting percentage.
Huggins said getting Culver and Tshiebwe to shoot more efficiently involves fixing how they attack the rim.
“We’ve got to get them to finish inside, we’ve got to get them to get their head on the rim,” Huggins explained. “It’s hard to score when you never look at the rim, you’re just kind of throwing up there and hoping. That’s what we did a year ago, we can’t do that this year. They understand that.”
With WVU’s style, Huggins also said he wants better ball security out of his big men in 2020-21.
“Like everybody else in the world, we’re playing a lot of roll and replace so one of them’s going to be the passer and one of them’s going to be the receiver,” Huggins said. “It depends on which side of the floor that [point guards] Deuce [McBride] and Jordan [McCabe] decide to use.”
Culver lead the team with 71 turnovers and Tshiebwe finished second with 53. Culver did have some success passing the ball as he racked up 54 assists but Tshiebwe finished the year with just 11.
The thing to keep in mind with these two is how young they were last season. Culver, a sophomore, had played 26 games prior to the 2019-20 season and Tshiebwe came in right out of high school as a true freshman.
The Mountaineers should also be deeper in the paint this season than they were last year. WVU will have Culver and Tshiebwe as well as defensive specialist Gabe Osabuohien and true freshmen Seny Ndiaye and Isaiah Cottrell.