Cowboys must avoid outside distractions at San Jose State

A small arena where very few fans attend the games.

That sums up San Jose State’s home-court advantage in a nutshell, and what Wyoming faces when it plays there at 8 p.m. MT Wednesday.

Allen Edwards

Allen Edwards

For a minute, let’s take away what the Cowboys will face player-wise in this game. The Spartans’ home arena — The Event Center — is the smallest in the Mountain West at 5,000. Rarely is it half full. It resembles more of a high school gym than one for college basketball.

A couple of years ago when I covered a UW game there, the students were not back in school and the facilities crew didn’t have the heat turned on. It was down-right cold in there.

It’s not like playing in MW arenas like the Pit at New Mexico or Viejas Arena at San Diego State in terms of loud and abundant fans, but it presents a different challenge for many teams.

First-year UW coach Allen Edwards has seen that first-hand as an assistant for the Cowboys the previous five seasons. Wednesday’s game will be his first there as a head coach, and already knows one thing he has to be leery of.

“It’s a quiet gym, and it’s one of those games where you can’t get on (officials) becuase everyone hears you, and the (officials) take it personal when they feel like everyone hears you,” Edwards said.

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Cowboys return home for two straight games

As Wyoming enters its third week of conference play, it also starts a critical stretch.

Allen Edwards

Allen Edwards

The Cowboys (11-5 overall, 1-2 Mountain West) are coming off two road losses to UNLV and Fresno State, play their next two games at home this week. The first is at 7 p.m. Wednesday against Utah State (8-7, 2-2). The second is at 4 p.m. Saturday against Nevada (14-3, 3-1). The Cowboys are 9-0 at home this season, and are one of three teams in the MW undefeated at home. Boise State and Nevada are both 7-0.

Do you consider Wednesday’s game a must-win for UW? First-year coach Allen Edwards doesn’t.

“It’s a big game, but as a staff we’re trying to get guys to understand every game is that way,” Edwards said. “We want to protect our home floor, but we also know if we want to compete for a championship we have to take some on the road.

“However, I never try to put pressure on guys that we need this particular game. We play our game, and at the end of the day we believe our game will put us in position to win. The spirit of our guys has not changed. They’re still confident, but they also know that it doesn’t matter who you play. They  better be ready to play every night.”

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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. The 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:

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Moemeka turning heads in summer workouts for UW hoops

I talked to first-year Wyoming men’s basketball coach Allen Edwards for about 15 minutes earlier this week about the Cowboys’ trip to the Bahamas Aug. 8-13. In case you missed the story on that, here’s the link: http://www.wyosports.net/university_of_wyoming/mens_basketball/uw-men-s-hoops-looks-to-benefit-from-trip-to/article_7c93ab8a-5ac7-11e6-89a0-73d6349d4122.html

Andrew Moemeka

Andrew Moemeka

When I asked Edwards if any individuals stood out during summer workouts, or the practices leading up to the Bahamas trip, he said he could give positives on just about every player. However, one player Edwards liked was redshirt freshman forward Andrew Moemeka. Edwards didn’t say a lot about Moemeka, but he did say he has “made progress” from his redshirt year and has given UW “a nice presence in the paint.”

Senior guard Jason McManamen and junior forward Alan Herndon both were redshirted by UW, and now they are two of UW’s best players heading into the season. Redshirt years benefitted them, and they’ve noticed a difference so far in Moemeka this summer coming off his redshirt year.

“Moe has stood out,” Herndon said. “He’s tall (6-8) and athletic. He’s worked on his game a lot during the redshirt year, just like I did. That was an important year for him last year.”

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Despite giving football a try, Conway with high praise of new UW hoops coach

Two questions came to mind when Wyoming basketball player Austin Conway decided to give football a try were:

Austin Conway

Austin Conway

Is Conway still on the basketball team after being one of five players cited for drug use by police prior to the Mountain West Tournament? All five were suspended for the rest of the season?

Was his decision based on coach Larry Shyatt stepping down and the hiring Shyatt assistant Allen Edwards?

“Not at all,” said Conway during a recent interview.

I will have more on Conway’s decision to give football a shot in Tuesday’s Wyoming Tribune Eagle and Laramie Boomerang, and the story also will be posted at wyosports.net.

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VIDEO: Cowboys Coaches Clinic – UW men’s basektball

This is the first of a season-long video series involving the University of Wyoming men’s basketball team and some of the things its coaches do to get players prepared for games.

Today, assistant coach Allen Edwards demonstrates some basic defensive concepts taught to all players. The players involved in this video include four true freshmen — center Jonathan Barnes, guard Jeremy Lieberman, forward Tyrell Williams and wing Alex Gorski.


Look for more of these videos throughout the season. UW plays its season-opener at 2 p.m. today against Northern Colorado at the newly renovated Arena-Auditorium.

For more UW hoops coverage, see the Wyoming Tribune Eagle and log on to wyosports.net. See today’s Laramie Boomerang for WyoSports’ 40-page preview section on UW men’s and women’s sports.

 

UW men’s hoops adds key piece to 2014-15 recruiting class

The verbal commitment of 6-foot-7 versatile guard/forward Justin James may have capped off the best recruiting class the Wyoming men’s basketball program has landed in recent memory.

Granted, all five players committed must sign, and all are supposed to during the early signing period in November.

Here is the full list:

G Austin Conway, 5-10, 165, Overland HS, Aurora, Colorado

F Justin James, 6-7, 180, Oldsmar Christian School, Port Saint Lucie, Florida

F Andrew Moemeka, 6-8, Oldsmar Christian School, Lake City, Florida

F/C Jordan Naughton, 6-10, 220, Etiwanda HS, Rancho Cucamonga, California

F Eric Turner, 6-5, 193, The Villages HS, The Villages, Florida

The class seems to address the future needs of the program. Conway is regarded as one of the quickest point guards in the region — and perhaps in the country. James said Conway is “crazy fast” when I talked to him on the phone Monday.

Turner, who averaged nearly 24 points per game as a junior in high school, seems like a good scorer along the wing. Moemeka and Naughton add size.

Justin James

Justin James

James is the wildcard here because he has played the 1, 2 and 3 spots in high school, and his coaches think he may be able to do that at UW. Whether he does or not remains to be seen, but his versatility is what stands out, and what has made programs like San Diego State, UNLV and New Mexico so good in the Mountain West in recent years is players who can play numerous spots on the floor.

Wyoming has not had a lot of players like that in the most recent past.

Here are some video highlights of James as a junior in high school to give you a taste of what I’m talking about:

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UW got their man in Williams

How bad did the Wyoming men’s basketball program want to sign 6-foot-8, 225-pound forward Tyrell Williams from Norland High in Miami, Florida?

Bad enough that once UW assistant coach Allen Edwards got the recruiting process started, the rest of the coaching staff followed.

Tyrell Williams

Tyrell Williams

Williams signed with the Cowboys Tuesday.

Head coach Larry Shyatt made two trips to Miami to watch Williams play, and to also meet with Williams and his mother. Assistant coaches Scott Duncan and Jeremy Shyatt also made trips to Miami.

The relationship the UW coaching staff built with Williams and his mother, LaShante Gay, was crucial, but so was the relationship it built with Williams’ high school coach — Lawton Williams (no relation).

Williams and his mother visited Laramie last weekend.

Williams averaged 7.2 points, 7.6 rebounds and 2.5 blocked shots per game as a senior. He also helped Norland win three consecutive state titles in Class 6A.

Here is a link to some video highlights from Williams as a senior:

http://bigcountypreps.com/181/tyrell-williams-norland-2014-pf-2013-final-4-performance/

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UW-Air Force postgame thoughts

No coach, no problem for the Wyoming men’s basketball team.

Well, I wouldn’t go that far, but despite head coach Larry Shyatt back home in Laramie with an illness the Cowboys rallied from a 15-point first half deficit to beat Air Force 66-59 Wednesday night in front of only 1,881 at Clune Arena here at the Air Force Academy.

That is by far the smallest crowd I have ever seen here for a game.

Here are some second half highlights from the game:


Shyatt is expected to be OK. Assistant Allen Edwards was the interim head coach for this game since he did the scouting report and game planning for this game. Edwards said he found out about 7:30 Wednesday morning about Shyatt, but didn’t say specifically what was wrong with him.

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Cowboys continue to get ready for Calgary

The Wyoming men’s basketball team practiced for the second time this week Tuesday afternoon in preparation for its exhibition trip to Calgary, Alberta, Canada, next week.

The 2.5-hour practice included some scrimmaging with referees. The Gold squad got the best of the White 28-23. The Gold consisted of mostly newcomers, other than senior forward Leonard Washington and sophomore walk-on guard Jack Bentz. Washington looked good in stretches, as did true freshmen guards Josh Adams and Jason McManamen of Torrington.

The White squad featured more veterans like senior guards Derrious Gilmore and Luke Martinez, and sophomore forward Larry Nance Jr. The White was down 10-0 to start the scrimmage, but played better as the scrimmage progressed.

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