MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – Saturday marked the first time in more than two weeks that Taz Sherman and Gabe Osabuohien stepped on the floor for a college basketball game.
The senior duo last played in West Virginia’s Dec. 22 contest against Youngstown State. Sherman scored 16 points, while Osabuohien grabbed three rebounds, dished out two assists, and came up with a pair of steals against the visiting Penguins.
During the nine-day stretch between the last game of the non-conference schedule, and the start of Big 12 play, both Sherman and Osabuohien were put into the COVID-19 health and safety protocols.
“It’s been rough. Not being able to do anything for seven to ten days,” Osabuohien said Saturday.
Freshman guard Kobe Johnson was also subject to the health and safety protocols. He, too, returned to the floor Saturday.
The trio were forced to sit out West Virginia’s Big 12 opener, which turned into a 15-point loss in Austin, against a ranked Texas Longhorns team.
“It’s also more difficult to watch a game than to play in it, for me,” Sherman said. “I’m way more nervous watching than playing. When I’m playing, you can have some type of control.”
Sherman, a Texas native, also missed seeing old friends and coaches, as well as family, by not being able to make the trip to Austin. It was going to be the first WVU game that his mom was going to be on-hand for, according to the guard.
Not only were Johnson, Osabuohien and Sherman unable to make the journey to Austin, but they weren’t able to be with the team until they exited the health and safety protocols.
For the three of them, it meant time away from the sport they love.
“Not being able to do something for at least seven days before they changed the rules, it was difficult,” Sherman said. “My life has revolved around basketball, to where you don’t know what to do no more when you don’t have that.”
Sherman said he was running and keeping up his conditioning while he was sidelined.
Without a gym to go to, Sherman ran until he stopped running, and kept track of his journeys on his Apple Watch. Instead of lifting, he did sit ups and push-ups.
To keep his mind off basketball, the guard watched multiple TV shows, and played video games while he was out.
“I probably went through like three different shows in the span of like a week,” Sherman said. “It’s different. When your life is more than half of the day is revolved around basketball, and you don’t have it, mine was spent watching shows, playing Call Of Duty, or sleeping. And the rotation repeated every day. It got pretty boring.”
With a week in between the first two games of conference play, all three were cleared to play for Saturday’s Big 12 tilt against Kansas State.
“And just coming in [with] one day of practice, you can’t go to hard, and then play a game,” said Osabuohien.
Johnson played just over five minutes, and scored a total of five points in the game.
Sherman scored eight points in the first half against the Wildcats. Osabuohien was held scoreless through the first 20 minutes, but did grab five rebounds.
“Yeah, I was tired, but it was just pushing through,” said the forward.
Sherman played nearly seven fewer minutes in the second half than he did prior to halftime. Osabuohien, on the other hand, played an extra four minutes in the second half, and came up with a number of big plays.
He grabbed seven rebounds after halftime to with a game-high 12 boards. And he drew four fouls, including taking multiple charges.
“Late in the second half, I kind of got my wind back. Started to get back into the regular motion and stuff,” Osabuohien said.
Sherman finished with 14 points. He has tallied double figures in every game this season, and has done so in each of the last 14 games dating back to last season’s NCAA Tournament.
Osabuohien finished with the following stat line: two points, 12 rebounds, one assist, one block, and seven fouls drawn.
“Yeah, I was pretty tired. I’m not going to lie,” the forward said afterwards.