If there’s any doubt Wyoming senior forward Larry Nance Jr. is recovered from ACL surgery back in March, the Cowboys’ large number of games to start the season should prove that he’s fine.
UW will play its 10th game over a 24-day period when it plays at California at 9 p.m. MT Wednesday. Nance has started every game, and leads the team in scoring (12.7 ppg), rebounding (5.4 rpg) and blocked shots (1.1 bpg).
“I’m doing well, but it’s been a little taxing combing back and playing this many games in a pretty short amount of time,” Nance said. “Let’s just say this: I’ve been in the training room quite a bit. I feel good and looking forward to this next one.”
Nance averaged 15.4 points, 8.6 rebounds, 2.1 blocked shots and 1.4 steals per game last season before his injury, which earned him First Team All-Mountain West honors and a spot on the league’s All-Defensive Team.
Nance’s scoring average has dipped in the last couple of games. He was held to four points on 1 of 4 shooting in UW’s 66-53 loss at SMU last Friday, and he played only 16 minutes and had six points in a 70-35 home win over Division II Regis last Sunday.
SMU did a good job of taking Nance away last Friday, and perhaps UW should have done a better job of getting him the ball, or at least finding ways of getting him the ball. It will be interesting to see how Nance does against California, who has a big front court.
UW was outrebounded 35-16 at SMU, and California has outrebounded teams by about six this season, including nearly 41 rebounds per contest. UW averages about 30 rebounds per game, with 25.4 of those coming on the defensive end, which leads the Mountain West.
“We got crushed pretty good on glass at SMU. That’s something we’ve always had to work on and a hurdle we’ve always had to get over. This game will be no different than the others,” Nance said.
The Cowboys led 42-36 at SMU with 10:44 to play, but struggled mightily after that shooting the ball. Wednesday will be only their second road game.
“This team has already experienced playing in front of large crowds at home and on the road, and playing in front of some smaller crowds (at home),” UW coach Larry Shyatt said. “I didn’t think the game was intimidating at SMU. Had we got down, say 20-6, early and thought our rhythm, timing and mind set were not right I would be far more concerned.”
This is another good nonconference game for UW. California enters the week with an RPI of 59 as of Monday. UW’s RPI is 83.
Shyatt said he welcomed a full day of practice Monday. With so many games so far this season, UW has not had a lot of practice time. Nance agreed with that.
“It will be really nice to work on ourselves a little bit instead of focusing so much on other teams,” he said. “The games are more fun, but practice is probably what we need right now. We’ve got to tighten a few things up.”
Shyatt said in his post-game radio interview after last Sunday’s win over Regis that he talked with SMU coach and Hall of Famer Larry Brown about his team, and asked for some advice on how the Cowboys can be better.
Will be interesting to see if UW shows some new things tonight against California.
For more on the game, see Wednesday’s Wyoming Tribune Eagle and Laramie Boomerang, and log on to wyosports.net.