MORGANTOWN — Friday’s practice had ended, at least for most of the Mountaineers’ players, but on one end of the Coliseum court, Bob Huggins and Derek Culver were just getting started.
Culver’s two games since coming back from two weeks off to battle COVID-19 had produced two sub-par games and after the Texas Tech game, which West Virginia escaped with a one-point victory, the coach minced no words about it.
“He looked like the old Derek rather than the new Derek, and I like the new Derek a lot better than the old Derek,” Huggins said in his media press conference on Friday.
The old Derek was the one from last year and earlier this season when he was in there with Oscar Tshiebwe.
The new Derek was the one that was playing since Tshiebwe left the team until the time out for COVID break.
“He just wasn’t playing strong, he was playing straight up and down,” Huggins said. “Derek is so powerful when he is in an athletic stance. There’s a reason why shortstops don’t play baseball with their legs crossed or their hands on their hips. You have to be able to move.
“In Derek’s case, he has to be able to move and, in a lot of instances, move several people because there’s a whole lot of people grabbing him and holding him and pushing on him. It’s important that he’s in an athletic stance.”
Huggins promised that the issue would be addressed at that day’s practice.
And so it was as he patiently went back to Elementary Basketball 101 with Culver on Friday, working on post play and free throw shooting, rebuilding a game that seems destined to end up in the NBA.
“We stayed about an hour after practice yesterday,” Huggins said. “This game, when you break it down, is a whole bunch of simple things, not hard things. What makes it hard is you have to do one simple thing to the next to the next in rapid succession.
“All we did for an hour yesterday were the simple things, both with post plays and his free throws,” Huggins said. “Once you grasp the simple things, you can put it together.”
In some ways it’s like riding a bicycle. You never really forget how but if you haven’t ridden one in a while you might want to go slow at first, and that’s how it was with Culver.
He was agreeable to take Huggins’ course.