First-year Wyoming men’s basketball coach Allen Edwards feels like his team is “right there” in terms of closing out and winning close games in conference play.
However, UW (13-7 overall, 3-4 Mountain West) isn’t there yet. Two of the Cowboys’ four conference losses were by single digits. But even in an 85-70 loss at Fresno State on Jan. 4, UW was close in the second half before things fell apart.
“We can’t continue to be just right here. Have to take the next step to get over the hump,” Edwards said.
Edwards on Monday listed three things he told his players they must do:
- Taking care ball.
- Don’t allow offensive rebounds.
- Positioning and execution on defense.
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UW hosts UNLV (10-10, 3-4) at 7 p.m. Wednesday, and those factors — especially the first one — played a role in the Cowboys’ 81-75 loss in Las Vegas on Dec. 31. UW committed 16 turnovers in the game, which led to 15 UNLV points. However, a good number of those turnovers came in the final 10 minutes of the game.
In the Cowboys’ 78-71 loss at New Mexico last Saturday, the Lobos had five of their eight offensive rebounds in the second half (the game was tied at 38-38 at halftime). The game was tied at 59-59 with eight minutes to play, but a couple of defensive lapses helped New Mexico go on an 11-2 run over the next four minutes.
“At the end of the day it’s process of this team growing,” Edwards said. “Sometimes you have to go through (those struggles) to grow. This is a team that hasn’t been put in those situations enough. Last year’s team relied heavily on (senior guard Josh Adams). Now, guys are playing bigger roles and we are telling them to be more assertive and aggressive. There’s growth to be done, but at some point we have to get over that hump.”