Chip Shots

by Jim Buzzerd

WVU wins Oscar

I’m going to spend some time on West Virginia University basketball and the commitment of five star forward/center Oscar Tshiebwe right after a few thoughts on the Mountaineer football team. The Mountaineers return to action Thursday night at 7 p.m. as they host Baylor on FS1. It will be the first game since the 30-14 debacle at Iowa State on October 13. That loss has weighed heavy on this fan’s mind. The performance of the offense has me perplexed and I’m anxious to see if that unit can get their swag back.

In particular, I want to see if quarterback Will Grier, the former Heisman hopeful, can be his former self. Against Iowa State Grier was put in harm’s way by a porous offensive line, but he often looked more like a freshman than a potential first round draft pick as he repeatedly took sacks instead of throwing the ball away.

Baylor scares me because last year West Virginia held a 38-13 advantage going into the fourth quarter and had to survive a failed two point by Baylor to survive 38-36. Baylor won’t be afraid after that experience and watching the Iowa State game plan work so well will further fuel the Bears. Hopefully the WVU offensive coaches can make the necessary adjustments.

On the basketball front, Tshiebwe announced his decision to play at WVU. He is rated in almost everyone’s top 50 players, but it wasn’t until this summer the Congo native rapidly rose to five-star status with his dominance on the AAU circuit. Coach Bob Huggins offered Tshiebwe over two years ago, but as his status grew so did his list of suitors. All the blue bloods tried to get on the 6-9, 230 center/forward, but only Kentucky’s John Calipari was able to get Tshiebwe on campus. His other official visits were Baylor and Illinois.

Kentucky message board posters had WVU message board posters riled up for the last month or so. Wildcat fans assumed that Tshiebwe would be a Wildcat simply because Kentucky offered him. Guess they’re used to getting what they want. Many West Virginia fans feared the Kentucky fans might be right and that WVU would lose a prized recruit that seemed to be a West Virginia lock for two years. Calipari’s late full court press could not overcome Huggins’ diligence and established relationship.

Of course Huggins had an ace or two up his sleeve. Tshiebwe plays for Kennedy Catholic High School in Hermitage, Pennsylvania; the same school as current WVU center Sagaba Konate, also an African native, attended. Oh, by the way, Konate and Tshiebwe lived with the same host family.

Next week we’ll get more into this year’s basketball team, a team, it’s rumored, Huggins has said could be his best team yet at WVU. I think it would be prudent to pump the brakes on that idea for now, but reports from Friday’s Gold vs Blue scrimmage suggest there is plenty of talent and depth on the team. My biggest concern is how long it will take for Huggins to get so many moving parts in sync?