Contributors, Justin Jackson, Men's Basketball, Sports, WVU Sports

COLUMN: Taz Sherman is WVU’s go-to guy, but will he get any help?

MORGANTOWN — It was at an offseason function earlier this year where Taz Sherman just happened to run into Darris Nichols.

The two shared small talk, mostly about life rather than hoops, Sherman explained.

“I just know that he was a hard worker,” Sherman said of Nichols, now the head coach of Radford, which fell to WVU 67-51 at the Coliseum on Saturday. “I know he loved to win. He means a lot to this program and (Bob Huggins) means a lot to him.”

In the years to come, it may be said of Sherman many of the same things he said of Nichols.

Hard worker. Talented. Passionate. Smart.

These were Nichols’ traits when he was a WVU player. It is becoming quite obvious they, too, are shared with Sherman.

“Seeing him last year when I was at Florida to this year, I think he spent the summer working on his overall game,” Nichols said. “Last year, he was catch-and-shoot and now he’s putting it on the floor a little more. He’s really good with his shot fakes. He’s gotten so much better in a year. You can tell he’s a gym rat.”

The difference? Nichols was never considered a go-to guy. He had that ability, but always gave way to guys like Alex Ruoff or Joe Alexander or Kevin Pittsnogle.

Those stars were the cake. Nichols was the icing.

Sherman is turning out to be the whole damn dessert for these Mountaineers, and at this point, we’re not exactly sure if anyone knows what that means.

“I knew I had to be more aggressive, but I had to try and play my same game,” Sherman said after scoring 27 against the Highlanders. “I wasn’t going to try and force anything. I really wanted to try and get my teammates more shots.”

Getting his teammates involved, that is something Sherman has mentioned a number of times this season, but we really have to begin to wonder if those teammates are ever going to respond to the point that is needed for WVU (7-1) to contend in the Big 12?

They didn’t Saturday against Radford. Sean McNeil missed the game with a bad back, something Huggins didn’t seem exactly thrilled with in his postgame press conference.

Jalen Bridges took just two shots. Isaiah Cottrell attempted four.

Kobe Johnson, who moved into the starting lineup to replace McNeil, took just three shots.

Malik Curry took nine shots, but made only two.

In all reality, this game represented a great opportunity for someone to step up and get themselves noticed with McNeil on the sidelines, but no one really took advantage of that opportunity.

“They should have. They’d be foolish not to,” Huggins said. “You get an opening, why wouldn’t you try to take advantage of it?”

And so we get to the question: Is this everyone jump on Sherman’s shoulders and let the fifth-year senior take you as far as he can?

No one really wants that. Sherman, who is now averaging 21 points per game, surely doesn’t want that.

McNeil, when healthy, can give you some sort of boost, but if the first eight games are any determining factor, they say Sherman is already a major player and everyone else is just sort of running through the motions.

“I don’t think we have any choice,” Huggins said when asked if the other players have become too reliant on Sherman’s scoring. “I don’t think it was a choice whether we relied on him too much or not, we had to.”

There is no doubt Sherman has put in the work to be a star.

It remains to be seen if anyone else on WVU’s roster is going to give him any help.

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