MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Many fans refer to West Virginia forward Gabe Osabuohien by the nickname “Gabe O,” as that’s what tends to happen when you have a last name with that many letters in it.
For most of this season, “Gabe D” might have been a better moniker for Osabuohien given his prowess on the defensive end of the floor — the floor being where he frequently sprawls, whether for loose balls or after getting bowled over taking a charge.
But West Virginia’s past two games have demonstrated that Gabe O’s game also has some “O” to it.
Osabuohien was the only highlight in an 84-68 loss at Kansas State, scoring his WVU-career high of 10 points on 4 of 5 shooting from the field.
His hand wasn’t quite as hot against Texas, but Osabuohien went 4-for-8 from the field and hit his lone free throw to score nine points.
The shots have been there because opponents were rightfully more concerned about Derek Culver or Oscar Tshiebwe in the low post than anything Osabuohien has shown on film from the high post.
“Huggins told me to be more aggressive, but to still be in my role,” Osabuohien said. “Coach Huggins wants me to work to hit that more consistently. I’ll hopefully be guarded more. That’s better for the team and better for everybody.”
If defenses are forced to start respecting Osabuohien’s shot, then it could break up the double teams they prefer to plant on Tshiebwe and Culver.
“When they’re on me, it makes it easier for me to pass it to DC and Oscar,” Osabuohien said.
Bob Huggins said the progress that Osabuohien is making on offense is a direct byproduct of the extra work he puts in.
“Gabe puts a lot of time in,” Huggins said. “[Former WVU assistant] Billy Hahn used to say it was the basketball gods. I said basketball’s like your girlfriend, if you don’t pay any attention you’ll probably lose her.
“When guys don’t get in the gym and get extra shots up, they don’t show some appreciation, it gets ’em. We’ve had guys who have been guilty of that… Gabe gets in the gym.”