QB Club honors UW basketball seniors

The Cheyenne Quarterback Club honored the seniors from the Wyoming men’s and women’s basketball teams Tuesday night.

Djibril Thiam was the lone senior for the UW men, while Randi Richardson, Jade Kennedy, Aubrey Vandiver and Cheyenne Central graduate Hillary Carlson were honored from the Cowgirls. The club presented all five with senior rings, and the five also gave a brief speech.

The Cheyenne QB Club has done this for years for UW senior football, men’s basketball and women’s basketball players.

Some notes from the gathering:

–Carlson was the last to be introduced, being the hometown girl. Her high school coach, Chad Whitworth, presented her with her ring. Her dad told me that she has hired an agent and is waiting on opporutnites to play professionally, either in this country or overseas.

–Thiam also is hoping to play overseas and has hired an agent. He played three years for UW and had 82 career dunks, now known as “Thiam jams.”

–Vandiver certainly has a chance to play professionally somewhere. She was part of 96 wins in her career, played in 133 games — all school records — and finished her career in the top 10 in 10 different statistical categories.

–Cowgirls assistant coach Kristin Becker is leaving the team after five seasons to pursue a career away from basketball in Colorado Springs, Colo.

–Kennedy had the only triple-double in Cowgirls history this past season against Colorado State. She also wore jogging shoes when she played instead of regular basketball shoes.

–Thiam already has a degree from UW in communications. Richardson and Vandiver graduate next month. Kennedy has one semester left and Carlson will graduate next year.

–Was told UW has sold 6,500 season tickets for football so far, driven largely by the Nebraska game on Sept. 24. That’s 2,500 more than this time last year, and the school is hoping to reach 10,000 for the first time in school history.

–Extra bleachers will be put in the north and south ends of War Memorial Stadium for the Nebraska game, putting the stadium’s capacity at a little over 31,000.

–War Memorial Fieldhouse will have some work done on it as it will get a new track and infield surface. Both are more than 20 years old. The project should be done in August or September.

Pokes confident heading into play-in game

The Wyoming men’s basketball team is at least saying the right things heading into today’s play-in game with TCU here at the Mountain West Conference Tournament in Las Vegas.

“The feeling that’s going on is positive. We think we can win. We’re going in with the mindset to win,” sophomore guard Desmar Jackson said.

This will be the Cowboys’ third play-in game in the last four years, and they’ve lost their previous two including a humbling 59-40 loss to Air Force last year.

“I think there are some pretty sour memories of the play-in game last year,” sophomore forward Amath M’Baye said. “I think everybody here is ready for this game and I think we will be better prepared for this game and this team will have a different mentality.”

See Wednesday’s Wyoming Tribune Eagle www.wyomingnews.com and Laramie Boomerang www.laramieboomerang.com for more on this game, and on how the Cowgirls hope to end their MWC Tournament woes this year.

Also, live blog links are above this story for today’s UW men’s and women’s games. Hope you will join me.

Cowboys, Cowgirls prepare for MWC tourney

The brackets are out and the match-ups are set for the Mountain West Conference men’s and women’s basketball tournament in Las Vegas. Action begins Tuesday.

The Wyoming men and women both play Wednesday. The Cowboys play TCU in the play-in game at 3 p.m. MST. The Cowgirls get a bye in the first round as the tournament’s third seed, and get the winner of Tuesday’s six-seven game between New Mexico and San Diego State at 8 p.m. Wednesday.

I like the men’s chances against TCU. UW beat TCU by 10 a few weeks ago and the Horned Frogs have lost 13 in a row. UW is 2-5 since interim coach Fred Langley took over. The play-in game often times comes down to who wants it the most. I think UW will do just enough to win by five.

The winner gets top-seeded BYU, and UW hung with the Cougars for a while before a 102-78 loss Saturday in Provo. But the Cowboys can’t look ahead to that, they need to focus on the Horned Frogs.

The Cowgirls’ opener scares me. Not because UW lost its regular-season finale by 16 at home to top-seeded BYU Saturday. But because both New Mexico and San Diego State know what it takes to win games at this event, and the Cowgirls are just 3-11.

Both teams are dangerous, but that’s not to say UW isn’t, either. I talked to coach Joe Legerski last Thursday — less than 24 hours after his team went on the road and won at San Diego State — and he said this team continues to amaze him and that no challenge is too big. It’s nice that the Cowgirls have four seniors who have played in this kind of environment. If UW can avoid a slow start Wednesday it wins. If it starts slow, it will be tough.

That would set up a semifinal matchup with second-seeded TCU Friday. TCU swept the regular-season series. You know what they say, it’s hard to beat a team three times in a season. Hope that isn’t the case for UW Wednesday.

Any thoughts?

I will be live blogging all UW men’s and women’s games from the tournament. More information will be sent out soon.

Here is the men’s bracket: http://www.themwc.com/auto_pdf/p_hotos/s_chools/mwc/sports/m-baskbl/auto_pdf/mwc-11-m-baskbl-bracket

Here is the women’s bracket: http://www.themwc.com/auto_pdf/p_hotos/s_chools/mwc/sports/w-baskbl/auto_pdf/mwc-11-w-champ-bracket

Top UW-BYU basketball games

There isn’t much talk that Wednesday likely will be the last Wyoming-BYU men’s basketball game in Laramie, or at least for quite a while.

BYU moves to the West Coast Conference next season in hoops and most other sports, and will be an independent in football.

UW’s current basketball struggles has most to do with such little fanfare for Wednesday’s game. At 8-13 overall, 1-6 in the MWC and coming off a 39-point loss at No. 7 San Diego State last Saturday, most wonder how bad it will be Wednesday against No. 8 BYU.

The Cowboys have lost 11 straight to the Cougars dating back to 2005. The average margin of victory during that time for BYU has been about 13 points, and 17.5 points in the last five.

Good riddance if this is the last time UW sees BYU in Laramie, right?

But what is your favorite UW-BYU men’s basketball game or memory?

Even though I was only 11 years old at the time, my favorite was in 1982 when UW won at BYU 27-25.That win went a long way to helping the Cowboys get to the NCAA Tournament that year.

Other good ones include the last time UW swept BYU in the regular season, which was in 2005.

Steve McClain’s last game as UW’s coach was a loss to BYU in the semifinals of the MWC tournament in 2007. Not a favorite memory, but a memorable one.

Would love to hear yours.

See Wednesday’s Wyoming Tribune Eagle www.wyomingnews.com and Laramie Boomerang www.laramieboomerang.comfor more on Wednesday’s game, including a look at what people are saying about BYU senior guard Jimmer Fredette, a candidate for Player of the Year in the country. Is he the best player to have played in the Arena-Auditorium? Would love to know your thoughts on that.

Also, the UW and BYU women play for first place in the MWC Wednesday. And, Wednesday is signing day for UW football. Look for a story on two of UW’s newest players from Germany in Wednesday’s papers. Also join me at 4 p.m. Wednesday for a live chat about the signing class and anything else UW related. See the top of this blog for the direct link.

Carlson wins weekly award again

Wyoming senior post Hillary Carlson is the Mountain West Conference Player of the Week for the third consecutive week.

She shares this week’s honor with BYU’s Mindy Bonham. It’s Carlson’s fourth weekly award this season and fifth of her career.

The Cheyenne Central graduate scored a career-high 34 points to start the week in a 69-61 win at UNLV on Jan. 26.  Carlson scored 13 of the Cowgirls first 27 points and grabbed a season-high 13 rebounds and four blocked shots.  Against San Diego State on Jan. 29, Carlson finished with 16 points and seven rebounds as the Cowgirls won their fifth game in a row, 59-51.

UW plays at BYU Wednesday, with the winner having sole possession of first place in the MWC at the midway point of the conference season.

Carlson earns MWC women’s hoops honor

Wyoming senior forward Hillary Carlson has been named Mountain West Conference Women’s Basketball Player of the Week for the third time this season and fourth in her career. 

The Cheyenne Central graduate led the Cowgirls to a 2-0 record last week with a non-conference win over Seattle and an MWC win over Air Force.  Carlson scored 20 points to go along with eight rebounds and six blocked shots against Seattle.  Against Air Force, Carlson was just two points short of her career-high with 27 in just 21 minutes of action as UW won 96-54. 

For the week, Carlson averaged 23.5 points, 7.0 rebounds and 4.5 blocks per game.  She shot .708 (17-24) from the field, including .667 (2-3) from three-point range, and .917 (11-12) from the free throw line.

Burman Q&A Part I

Here is the first of my four-part question-and-answer interview with Wyoming athletics director Tom Burman: http://tinyurl.com/4kdesna

Would love to hear your thoughts and opinions.

Here are links to the Cowboys and Cowgirls games from Saturday against Air Force:

http://www.wyomingnews.com/articles/2011/01/23/sports/20sports_01-23-11.txt

http://www.laramieboomerang.com/articles/2011/01/23/sports/doc4d3bbbad5c28e721680069.txt

Leftovers from UW-Kennesaw State

Wyoming coach Heath Schroyer said sophomore guard Desmar Jackson’s ability to play with two fouls for much of the first half was one of the biggest keys in the Cowboys’ 68-55 win over Kennesaw State Tuesday night at the Arena-Auditorium.

Jackson scored 12 of his 21 points and nabbed four of his career-high six steals in the first half where he played 15 of 20 minutes.

According to the Mountain West Conference statistics from games through Dec. 28, Jackson has moved up to sixth in scoring (15.5 ppg) and second in steals (2.6 spg).

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UW held Kennesaw State’s two leading scorers, sophomore guard Markeith Cummings and junior guard Spencer Dixon, to 14 and six points, respectively. That’s 12 points under their combined scoring average, and the two were 6 of 21 from the field.

“We really felt Cummings was the difference,” Schroyer said. “I thought Cummings on the block was a big deal for us. I thought our match-up zone did a nice job, and at times we even doubled him out of our zone. With Dixon, we wanted to be there on the catch, keep him out of the paint and make him shoot pull-up jumpers. I thought we did that.”

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A few other quotes from the game:

“I don’t think anything changed, we just communicated better on defense. We kept playing our regular zone defense.” — Jackson on the difference between UW’s defensive effort in the first half and second half. The Cowboys held Kennesaw State to six field goals and 22 percent shooting in the second half.

“He’s really long and he can reach every where.” — junior guard Francisco Cruz on Jackson and his six steals.

“He’s a threat no matter when he’s on the floor. When he came in during the first half, he brought a lot of attention to him. It was similar if he was scoring.” — senior forward Djibril Thiam on junior forward Afam Muojeke playing for the first time in four games due to injury. Muojeke came off the bench and scored three points on 1 of 6 shooting.

See Thursday’s Wyoming Tribune Eagle www.wyomingnews.com and Laramie Boomerang www.laramieboomerang.comfor a feature on the homecoming for Cowgirls head coach Joe Legerski and assistant Gerald Mattinson as they head back to their hometown of Rock Springs Thursday for an exhibition game against Montana-Western.

Also see Sunday’s paper for a look-ahead to conference play for the men’s basketball team.

Carlson earns MWC hoops honor

Wyoming senior post and Cheyenne Central graduate Hillary Carlson was named the Mountain West Conference women’s basketball player of the week Monday.

Carlson averaged 23.5 points, six rebounds, 2.5 assists and 2.5 blocked shots per game as the Cowgirls (9-3) won road games last week at Montana and Utah State by a combined 52 points. Carlson shot 58.3 percent from the field.

This was Carlson’s first weekly honor of the season and second of her career. Senior teammate Aubrey Vandiver also was a player of the week earlier this season.

The Cowgirls play Montana-Western, an NAIA team in Dillon, Mont., in an exhibition game at 7 p.m. Thursday in Rock Springs.