The season has been an up-and-down one for Wyoming men’s basketball so far with a 7-8 overall record.
Same can be said for the Cowboys’ young post players — sophomores Jonathan Barnes and Hayden Dalton and true freshman Jordan Naughton. Dalton and Naughton are in their first years at UW. Barnes is in his second.
I’m not including sophomore Alan Herndon here, even though this is just his second year in terms of playing for the Cowboys and third year in the program. He, too, has had is ups and downs, but for now we will consider him the veteran.
Coach Larry Shyatt knew the youth and inexperience in the post would be “challenging” this season.
“Watching their development has been outstanding for us in practice,” he said. “In games it’s been a different guy on a different night stepping up or struggling. Nothing has been a surprise, but what need to do is develop a little more consistency.”
The 6-foot-8 Dalton averages 4.8 points and 3.7 rebounds per game. He’s pulled down five or more rebounds in six of UW’s 15 games, but at 185 pounds it is evident that Dalton struggles against bulkier guys inside. That was evident in last Saturday’s 71-68 loss at Nevada where Dalton was 0 of 5 from the field, with many of those misses inside.
Barnes is UW’s biggest player at 6-10, 245 pounds. The will and want-to is there, but the feel for the game and skill in the games is still being developed. A 10-point effort against
California in Laramie back in early December was promising, as was his 28 minutes of action. But for a guy who takes most of his shots in and around the basket, Barnes is just 12 of 27 from the field and 12 of 24 from the free-throw line. He also has averaged only 1.8 rebounds per game.
Like Barnes, Naughton is raw but has shown glimpses of good things. His eight points and four rebounds in UW’s 62-59 win at New Mexico State on Dec. 13 played a huge role in that victory. Naughton just turned 18, and his better days on the court are ahead of him. Of UW’s big men, Naughton averages the fewest minutes at just under 10 per game. Don’t be surprised if that number rises as conference play continues.
“The attitudes of all these guys have been great,” Shyatt said. “There’s been some cases of physical immaturity in terms of weight and strength. Some things have been with their level of experience.
“But in each case, if there was a struggle attitude-wise or work ethic we’d be concerned. But that’s not been the case with any of them.”
UW hosts Air Force at 7 p.m. Wednesday as it tries to snap a three-game home losing streak to the Falcons, and a four-game skid overall. For more on that, see Wednesday’s Wyoming Tribune Eagle and Laramie Boomerang and log on to wyosports.net.