First and foremost, it is good to be back posting on this blog. Sorry that it has been so long since the last post — some time during football season last fall. There were plenty of issues and reasons why, but I know you don’t care about that.
Anyway, Saturday marks the final home game for the University of Wyoming men’s basketball team. A forgettable season is about over as UW enters the 4 p.m. game with New Mexico at 7-23 overall and 3-14 in the MW.
It is senior day for two UW players — guard Justin James and forward Jordan Naughton. I have a feature on James that will run in Saturday’s Wyoming Tribune Eagle and Laramie Boomerang, and online at wyosports.net so I hope you will check that out.
James’ career at UW has been prolific. Unfortunately for Naughton, his has been quiet and unassuming — much like his personality. Back and knee injuries have limited Naughton to 20 games this season, and Saturday will be his 90th in four years. However, 60 of those games came in his first two seasons.
Naughton’s career averages are 3.7 points, 2.2 rebounds and 12.2 minutes per game. This season, in 20 games, he’s averaged 4.0 points and 1.9 rebounds.
The way Naughton’s season started is pretty much a microcosm of how this season has gone for the Cowboys. After lingering back issues allowed Naughton to play only nine games last season, Naughton appeared healthy, optimistic and even more talkative entering 2018-19. In UW’s lone exhibition game, Naughton came out and went behind the bench to do some yoga-type stretches for his back. He ended up tearing a knee ligament and missed the first nine games.
Third-year UW coach Allen Edwards joked earlier this season that Naughton, who turned 21 recently, has the body of a 50-year-old. Edwards was asked to reflect on Naughton’s career with the Cowboys.
“Naught has just been banged up his whole career,” Edwards said. “His freshman year was probably his best in the sense of his health. He knows how to play and he’s long. He could have had a promising career oversees and maybe work his way to the NBA if he was healthy.”
Naughton isn’t bitter about his injury issues, or wonders what could have been had he stayed healthy. Instead, he is grateful for his time at UW coming from Rancho Cucamonga, California.
“It has been great. There have been some ups and downs, but the support has been unbelievable from the fans, people, coaches and things like that. It has been a really good experience. I wouldn’t trade it for anything.”
Naughton will earn his degree in computer science in the spring. James also will get his degree this spring in kinesiology.