Derek Culver may have been the Most Valuable Player at the Bad Boy Mowers Crossover Classic last weekend. But the revelations came in the play of guards Sean McNeil and Taz Sherman.
As the No. 11 Mountaineers (3-0) prepare to take on No. 1 Gonzaga on Wednesday night as part of the Jimmy V Classic, the play of McNeil (6-foot-3) and Sherman (6-foot-4) may have as much to do with West Virginia challenging the Bulldogs as Culver, Oscar Tshiebwe and Miles McBride.
Consider the pair’s first three games of the season. Each managed to hit double figures twice — McNeil scored 16 points each in the Mountaineers’ first two games of the Classic, while McBride scored 14 points in the opener and 12 points in the Classic finale against Western Kentucky. They both scored nine points in the other game in the Classic.
So as they enter Wednesday’s game, McNeil has per-game averages of 13.7 points, 3.3 rebounds, 1 assist and 0.7 steals. Sherman has per-game averages of 11.7 points, 1.3 rebounds, 1 assists and 0.7 steals. The only difference is that McNeil starts and Sherman comes off the bench, which makes the pair a great swap for the Mountaineers, since they don’t seem to lose much in terms of scoring.
The pair’s totals through three games is promising and a stark improvement from last season. The pair averaged a little over 5 points per game in 2019-20, meaning they’ve each doubled their scoring average from a year ago.
Plus, they’re making an impact as an on-floor combo. In the Bad Boy Mowers semifinal game against Virginia Commonwealth, Sherman and McNeil hit back-to-back 3-pointers to give the Mountaineers a six-point lead that broke open the second half.
Their season-opening performances have put the pair among the Top 4 scorers on the team behind Culver (15 ppg, along with 10 rpg) and McBride (16.3 ppg). Tshiebwe, who spent at least one of the three games in foul trouble, is averaging 7.7 points and 8.7 rebounds per game.
But the Mountaineers needed more options than Culver (who was just named Big 12 Player of the Week), McBride and Tshiebwe, and if the early returns are any indication, they may have them in McNeil and Sherman.
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