Initial thoughts of UW men’s hoops

It was nice to break out of football mode for a couple of hours Thursday night to watch the Wyoming men’s basketball team.┬áThe Cowboys easily defeated Division II Chadron State 75-50 in front of a packed house of 1,187 at Eastern Wyoming College.

After a slow start for UW, the game was never in doubt, which is what you would expect in an exhibition game.

First, here is first-year UW coach Allen Edwards after the game:

As for some initial thoughts:

— UW could be good in Edwards’ more up-tempo style. Don’t look for it to be a crazy run-and-gun type of tempo, but there are enough athletes on this team to be able to get out in transition and create open shots for each other.

— Thursday’s game was sloppy from UW’s standpoint with 17 turnovers. Turnovers were the biggest reason why former coach Larry Shyatt shied away from pushing the tempo in past years. More turnovers is kind of a by-product of pushing the tempo, but Edwards knows 17 is too many.

— Sophomore forward Justin James showed some flashes of brilliance, and also some head-scratching stuff. He played only 11 minutes and fouled out in the second half. But he had seven points, four rebounds and two assists. He isn’t afraid to get the ball and push it in transition. He also looks bigger, or perhaps more toned is the better way to put it.

— The Cowboys’ two smaller point guards — junior Jeremy Lieberman and redshirt freshman walk-on Cody Kelley of Gillette looked pretty good. They combined for 12 points, eight rebounds and four assists. They also were 2 of 4 from 3-point range.

— Sophomore center Jordan Naughton started, and finished with four points and five rebounds. He had a decent amount of chances to score around the rim early, but couldn’t convert. Naughton also looks more toned athletically. I think he will be UW’s best option when it comes to a true center this season.

— Junior guard Lou Adams’ play pretty much epitomized the game for UW. At times he looked really good and sharp, and at other times he looked out of sorts. Adams came off the bench and scored 10 points, and led the team at 6-foot-4 with seven rebounds to go along with an assist, steal and blocked shot. Adams also had three turnovers, and got into a pushing and shoving match with a Chadron State player in the second half. Both players got technical fouls as a result, and although that is never a good thing, I liked the fight and fire Adams brought too the floor. I think UW fans are going to enjoy watching this kid play.

— Chadron State wasn’t very good — at least not in this game. It shot just 26.2 percent and was 5 of 26 from 3-point range. Some of that was due to UW’s defense, but the Eagles has plenty of decent looks at the basket. They also were just 11 of 25 from the free-throw line. Not sure if this game can give a real good read of how good or bad the Cowboys will be this season.

— Finally, it was cool to see senior guard Jason McManamen play in his hometown, and see how the fans reacted to him being there. McManamen was solid with a game-high 15 points. Here is McManamen after the game:

UW opens regular-season play at 8:30 p.m. Friday at home against Division II Western State. Its first game against a Division I foe is Nov. 14 at Montana.

See Sunday’s Wyoming Tribune Eagle and Laramie Boomerang, and also log on to wyosports.net for a story I wrote on redshirt freshman forward Andrew Moemeka and how he may fit into UW’s plans this season. Also in Sunday’s WTE and Boomerang is WyoSports’ 60-page UW basketball preview section, full of good stuff from both the men’s and women’s teams. Here is a preview of the cover.

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Hope to have the entire section posted at wyosports.net early next week.