The big news of the day came about nine hours before the game when senior guard Luke Martinez pleaded not guilty to a felony aggravated assault and battery charge Wednesday morning in district court in Laramie.
A trial is set for Aug. 26-28, and Martinez is still suspended indefinitely from the team.
What was surprising was what Martinez’s attorney, Tom Fleener said to the media after the hearing.
“Luke’s the victim here,” Fleener said. “He’s lost his college basketball career. He wasn’t the aggressor that night. It was a bar fight in a college town and no weapons were used. While the injuries were certainly unfortunate, Luke’s the one that truly suffered today.”
According to an affidavit, a multiple witnesses reported to police that Martinez kicked a limp and unconscious man, Parfait Nayigihugu, in the face.
Martinez made his first public statement to the media since the Dec. 30 bar fight, and said: “It’s been tough. Just hoping for the best and keep praying. That’s it.”
When asked if he thought his absence has hurt the team, Martinez said “no comment.”
UW is 6-11 without Martinez. The Cowboys are 18-11 overall, 4-11 in the Mountain West heading into tonight’s game with Colorado State (22-7, 9-5).
As for the game, senior forward Leonard Washington is a game-time decision whether or not he will play with his injured back. Everyone else should play.
With Washington UW was outrebounded 42-28 and 32-18 on the defensive glass in a 65-46 loss at Colorado State last month. The Cowboys like to work inside-out with Washington and Larry Nance Jr. in the post. Might be more of Nance and sophomore Derek Cooke Jr. Still, UW needs big games from its guards to have a chance tonight.
Colorado State of 501-of-700 from the free-throw line this season. Only New Mexico has attempted and made more free throws in the conference. UW is 375-of-547 from the line.
“They get tot he foul line. They play physical basketball. They rebound the living heck out of the ball,” UW coach Larry Shyatt said about Colorado State.
“Most of the better teams this time of year have to remove their weaknesses as often as possible and play to their strengths. CSU does that.”
Colorado State coach Larry Eustachy had some kind words for this week about Shyatt and the Cowboys.
“With Larry Shyatt, is there a better coach in the country? No. He does a great job,” he said.
“I don’t care who they put out on the court. I know they’ve lost some key players, but they always have a chance to win based on how they play. It would be a big upset if we go up there and get it.”
A win would get UW out of the play-in game Tuesday at the Mountain West Tournament in Las Vegas. UNLV didn’t do the Cowboys any favors with its 68-64 home win last night against Boise State. If UW and Fresno State finished tied for seventh in the conference standings, Fresno has the tie-breaker based on its home win over UNLV. UW was swept by UNLV.
This could be one of the more odd senior night’s for UW. Washington might not play, Martinez is still suspended. The only senior who looks to play is point guard Derrious Gilmore. He said he has a sister here for the game, but his mom and uncle were supposed to catch a flight today from Baltimore (where Gilmore is from), but a big winter storm back there may prevent them from making it.
Follow me on Twitter tonight for updates throughout the game: @rpgagliardi, @wyosports. See Thursday’s Wyoming Tribune Eagle and Laramie Boomerang, and log on to www.wyosports.net for more on the game.
And, join me at 3 p.m. Thursday for the weekly live chat on UW sports. You can log on here on the blog or at wyosports.net.