I don’t think anyone felt good about Wyoming’s 77-69 overtime loss to Division II Fort Lewis last Saturday.
Yes, it was an exhibition game. Even though the Cowboys’ three best players — senior guard Josh Adams, junior guard Jason McManamen and sophomore forward Alan Herndon — didn’t play the last 15 minutes or so based on the decision coach Larry Shyatt made earlier in the week, there was a level of disappointment.
Talking to the players this week, they seem determined that won’t happen Friday when the Cowboys open the regular season against Bristol University out of Anaheim, California.
“Increased focus,” said Herndon on what practice has been like so far this week. “Coaches have been more on edge. We know we have to prepare a lot better. We know we have to prepare and respect every single team we play no mater what their name is.”
Added McManamen: “It was tough. You don’t want to lose any game no mater who you’re playing. We have to learn from it. It will make us hungrier for this game Friday. We’re going to be ready.”
UW also announced Thursday that two true freshmen — guard Austin Conway and forward Andrew Moemeka — will redshirt this season. That could change if there are any injuries or other circumstances.
Are you surprised by this?
Not so much for me about Conway. Although I think he is a very talented player and will be good at UW, the Cowboys are somewhat deep at guard. Conway is a 5-10 point guard. Adams, redshirt sophomore Trey Washington III and sophomore Jeremy Lieberman all can play the point. All have experience in UW’s program, and have the most confidence right now among Shyatt and the coaching staff.
UW doesn’t have a lot of proven experience at forward. There’s Herndon and 6-10 sophomore Jonathan Barnes, although Barnes’ experience was limited last season. Newcomers Hayden Dalton and Jordan Naughton will see minutes. I also don’t see UW playing two bigs like it did a lot last season with Larry Nance Jr. and Derek Cooke Jr. I think you will see more four-guard lineups with one big.
The wildcard here could be 6-7 true freshman Justin James, who has been hampered with an ankle injury the last few weeks. Shyatt said James has been practicing this week and is expected to play Friday. James is versatile and can play several different positions. He may need to as UW just got a bit smaller with the redshirting of Moemeka.
See Friday’s Wyoming Tribune Eagle and Laramie Boomerang, and log on to wyosports.net, for my feature on Jeron Roberts, who is the coach and athletics director of Bristol University. Roberts makes his first trip back to Laramie since he was a player for the Cowboys from 1995-98.