Corner concerns

The topic of my Sunday column last week was the continued struggles in conference play the Wyoming men’s basketball team has had defending the 3-point shot.

Here’s a link to the column: http://www.wyomingnews.com/articles/2011/01/16/sports/20sports_01-16-11.txt

In four conference games UW is last in the MWC in 3-point shooting defense at 48.9 percent, and teams have averaged 11.5 3s per game.

And many of them have come from the corners against the Cowboys’ 2-3 zone.

Six of New Mexico’s 10 3-pointers came from at or near the corners. Same thing with TCU. But the Cowboys really struggled rotating to the corners last Saturday against Utah as 10 of the Utes’ treys were at or near the corner.

Utah coach Jim Boylen said his team made the extra pass to find the open player. Here’s what a couple of other MWC coaches told me when I asked them about their good 3-point shooting against UW.

“We were coming off a game where we played awful (an 83-49 loss at UNLV), and we were playing at home,” said TCU coach Jim Christian, whose team beat UW 78-60. “We shoot the ball much better at home, for whatever reason. I thought we played unselfishly. I thought our key players made shots early (guard Ronnie Moss and forward Garlon Green combined to go 9 of 17 from the field and 5 of 8 from 3-point range in the first half) so we played with a lot more confidence. I don’t think it was anything from their defense that we saw and was able to figure out. I think it was how we played and led us to get some good looks and build some confidence.”

There wasn’t a shot chart available from UW’s 73-60 loss at Colorado State to open MWC play on Jan. 4. But the Cowboys allowed a season-high 14 3s, and there were a fair share made from the corners. Senior guard Adam Nigon made 7 treys, including five in the first half.

“Wyoming is in a zone defense so you kind of know where your 3s are going to come from,” CSU coach Tim Miles said. “I think that helps a little bit. We had a senior (Nigon) that kind of willed us for that first half. Free-throw shooting and 3-point shooting I think are kind of catchy. They’re like a virus. One guy starts getting it and it gets to everybody.”

Needless to say, if UW is going to stay with a zone defense, and it likely will, it better work on better rotations and movement.