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With Derek Culver Gone, Mountaineers Can’t Make Same Mistake From Last Season

Following a chaotic and confusing few days with the Derek Culver situation, the Mountaineers are moving on and now have a better idea of what the team will look like next season. Unfortunately, it could result in similar conflicts West Virginia dealt with when Oscar Tshiebwe was on the team.

The men’s basketball coaching staff will have to decide in the upcoming months if they want to play small again or play two big men on the floor. It seems like an obvious answer but there are still question marks in other positions that could result in the Mountaineers moving Jalen Bridges to small forward, rather than playing power forward.

On paper, it appears that one of the incoming transfers will replace Culver at the center position next season, whether that’s Dimon Carrigan (Florida International) or Pauly Paulicap (DePaul). Both have similar play styles and builds. Carrigan is 6-foot-9, 215 pounds and Paulicap is 6-foot-8, 225 pounds. Carrigan averaged 6.8 points, 6.1 rebounds and 2.5 blocks in his senior year at FIU. Paulicap averaged 7.2 points, 6.1 rebounds and 1.3 blocks at DePaul. It will be a tough decision for WVU head coach Bob Huggins, as Carrigan and Paulicap are almost identical.

What Huggins can’t do is have both of them on the court at the same time.

In the first half of the 2020-21 season, the Mountaineers experienced a terrible spacing issue with Culver and Tshiebwe on the court at the same time. Both big men couldn’t spread the floor out and space. Once Tshiebwe left, WVU’s offense was more smooth as Bridges took his spot and performed well. As the offense was better, the interior defense was worse. Culver had to hold back and not be as aggressive or else he would foul out. Once Culver got into foul trouble, the Mountaineers were in a tough decision: play an inexperienced freshman in Seny Ndiaye or play very small with Gabe Osabuohien.

Carrigan and Paulicap don’t ever shoot the ball as they combine for three 3-point attempts in their careers (yes, combined). They should not be on the floor ever together or else it will turn into the same problem when the Mountaineers had Culver and Tshiebwe. Luckily, this can be a good problem to have. If one of the two gets into foul trouble, you can just throw the other person in and it should be alright.

Still, there’s a lot of time left before we find out the decisions from Miles McBride, Taz Sherman and Sean McNeil, so Mountaineer fans can breathe for a few weeks and continue to have fun with hypotheticals.

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