There’s been a lot of firsts for Wyoming men’s basketball this season.
A first-year coach.
First-year players, and others with bigger roles.
Five UW players will go through another first Wednesday when the No. 7 seed Cowboys (18-13) play No. 10 Air Force (11-20) at 2:30 p.m. MT in a first-round game. They will play in their first-ever MW Tournament game.
Two in particular are sophomore guard Justin James and junior forward Hayden Dalton. Both were on the team last year, but were suspended prior to the tournament after being cited by Laramie police for drug use. James and Dalton are UW’s two leading scorers at 15.5 and 12.5 points per game, respectively.
“It hurt knowing I couldn’t be out there helping my team in some way. This year I’m ready to play,” James said.
Needless to say, UW needs both players to have good games Wednesday, but perhaps the biggest area is ball security. James and Dalton lead UW in turnovers. Between both, they average about five turnovers per game, and many of them are careless turnovers that can easily be avoided.
After Wyoming’s 78-73 home loss to Colorado State Tuesday, first-year coach Allen Edwards said at some point his players must get what he and his staff are telling them and go out and do it.
For those of you who missed it, here is Edwards’ complete postgame comments:
To me, there seems to be a communication problem between the coaching staff and the players, which led me to write column which ran Thursday in the Wyoming Tribune Eagle and Laramie Boomerang and online at wyosports.net. Here’s the link: http://bit.ly/2kPmH9h
Saturday is the biggest game on the schedule for the Wyoming men’s basketball team. One reason is because it’s the next game on the’ schedule. But the biggest reason is up until now, this is the best team that’s come into the Arena-Auditorium this season.
UW (12-5 overall, 2-2 Mountain West) hosts Nevada (14-3, 3-1) at 4 p.m. MT, and fans can watch it online on ESPN3. Nevada is in second place in the conference behind Boise State, but has the best record in the league.
When you look at this game on paper, you see two pretty even teams.
— Nevada leads the MW in scoring (79.4 ppg), followed by UW (78.6 ppg). Both teams allow pretty much the same amount of points. Nevada allows 72.2, UW 72.9 per contest. Look for a high-scoring, entertaining game Saturday if nothing else.
Some pre-game reading prior to Wyoming’s game at Eastern Michigan, which kicks off at 5:30 p.m. Friday and is televised on CBS Sports Network.
First, my No. 1 key to the game for the Cowboys:
Keeping balance: Wyoming has averaged 216 rushing yards and 210 passing yards through its first three games. That balance has been a key to its success, and has to continue today. UW can’t let Eastern Michigan make it one dimensional.
Yes, no or am I full of it?
— I had this note in Friday’s story in the Wyoming Tribune Eagle, Laramie Boomerang and online at wyosports.net, but I found it interesting. The Cowboys play their third Friday night game in as many seasons. However, the last time UW played a nonconference game on a day other than Saturday was on Dec. 23, 2004 when it beat UCLA 24-21 in the Las Vegas Bowl.
Hint: He’s a starter for Wyoming’s football team as a true freshman walk-on.
Still no clue?
Szpor came to UW this summer as a 6-foot-3, 202-pound true freshman walk-on quarterback from Central High in Fresno, California, right in Fresno State’s backyard.
“One of my best friends from home picked Wyoming to go to school as a regular student, and he offered to bring me out here to check things out,” Szpor said. “My dad found (UW director of recruiting) Gordie Haug’s email address and contacted him.
“We took a trip here. Gordie gave us a tour. We met with (UW offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach) Brent Vigen and I was offered a walk-on spot.”