Junior forward Derek Culver has done it all for West Virginia in the Mountaineers’ first two games of the season.
In two games, Culver is averaging 15 points, 14.5 rebounds, two assists, 1.5 steals and three blocks. Against VCU on Thursday, Culver scored his first double-double of the season with 23 points and 15 rebounds in the 78-66 victory. He averaged 10.9 points and 9.2 rebounds per game last season.
Culver scored the Mountaineers’ first six points against the Rams and eight of the team’s first 10. After the game, Culver said his fast start was simply a product of him playing hard on both ends of the floor.
“I try to play hard on the defensive end and the offensive end was just going to follow suit because of how hard I was playing,” Culver said. “I end up getting there through playing hard.”
Culver said his focus this offseason was on slowing down his play and being more in control when he has the ball.
“I feel like if I just take my time, get the ball in the post, quarter it, see what I have, then if they’re not going to double-team me I can work on my post moves but if they are I can kick it out to my teammates like Sean [McNeil] and Taz [Sherman], who can make open shots,” Culver said. “For the most part, I feel like slowing down has helped me a lot, it makes me see the floor a lot better.”
WVU coach Bob Huggins said Thursday’s game was an example of how slowing down can help Culver be more effective.
“I’ve been trying to get him to slow down, he gets in just a little bit too big of a hurry at times but when he slows down you saw how effective he can be,” Huggins said.
While Culver has enjoyed a fast start to the season, Oscar Tshiebwe, his partner in the frontcourt, has not. Tshiebwe was limited to just 14 minutes due to foul troubles against South Dakota State on Wednesday and scored only 11 points against VCU with a pair of turnovers. Tshiebwe did grab 16 rebounds and draw six fouls, however.
“Oscar is going to be a factor regardless,” Culver said. “He’s still going to command respect in the post, they can’t really double-team me and if they do I have another person who does the same thing I do that I can just dish the ball to him. Oscar’s always going to be a factor. If Oscar’s in the game, he’s going to find some way to contribute because he plays so hard.”
West Virginia is set to take on Western Kentucky in the championship game of the Crossover Classic Friday at 1:30 p.m. EST.