MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Though hardly the centerpiece of West Virginia’s recruiting class last year, Rémi Dibo was nonetheless viewed as a crucial component: A lengthy wing player with the 3-point range to make Bob Huggins’ roster more closely resemble the others of the Big 12.
On occasion, Dibo has made West Virginia dangerous through his shooting. At other times he has treaded dangerously close to driving his coach mad.
The lapses on defense and a too-soft approach to rebounding that were Dibo’s deficit in junior college haven’t been tolerated by Huggins.
During Tuesday night’s 66-64 win at Baylor, however, Dibo made enough shots—while at least mitigating some of his shortcomings—to stay on the floor for 23 minutes. That included the Mountaineers’ final possession, when the presence of Dibo, Eron Harris and Terry Henderson helped spread Baylor’s defense enough to allow Juwan Staten a clearer path to the winning basket.
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Dibo provided his highest output since a Dec. 2 route of Loyola-Maryland, and his 13 points were six more than he scored in the previous three games combined.
“When I see that first (shot) going down, I’m looking for more to go,” said Dibo after finishing 3-of-7 from 3-point range.
“I’m trying to get more comfortable and hit the shots I didn’t make so far this season. But it’s shots I’ve been making all my career.”
Dibo also recorded his first two blocks of the season against Baylor, though the night wasn’t all rosy. His rebounding bugaboo resurfaced moments before halftime with Baylor at the foul line. After Huggins screamed “Remi, will you block?”, the errant free throw kicked high off the back rim and Taurean Waller-Prince (who’s also 6-foot-7) out-maneuvered Dibo for the rebound. The second chance led to an Isaiah Austin 3.
“I see a guy who doesn’t block out on the free-throw line,” Huggins said after the game, emphasizing Dibo’s need to round into a more complete player.
Still, the coach has witnessed a deeper commitment ince the Jan. 22 game against Texas Tech, when WVU won 87-82 without Dibo getting on the court.
“I didn’t play him at all in the Texas Tech game because he came to the shoot-around and didn’t know what he was doing,” Huggins said. “That’s unacceptable. So I told him you can get with the rest of us or you can sit over there for the rest of the year. And he’s been way, way better.”
Dibo admitted his lack of preparation for Texas Tech, along with other low-intensity practices, are instances that can sabotage playing time if he relapses. He’s averaging 7.1 points, 40-percent 3-point shooting and 3.1 rebounds, and with Kansas State coming to Morgantown on Saturday, Dibo aims to avoid the on-and-off fluctuation that has defined his first major-college season. He has yet to reach double figures in back-to-back games, and he hasn’t played 20-plus minutes in consecutive outings since the Loyola and Missouri matchups of early December.
At least the positive impact he had against Baylor has teammates predicting more consistent days for Dibo.
“That’s the Remi I know and that’s the Remi a lot of people haven’t seen yet,” said Harris.They’re going to start to see a lot more out of Remi the more his head gets into it and the more his confidence gets into it.”