UW-Nevada men’s basketball: 3 takes, notes, quotes and video

My three takes from Wyoming’s 63-55 win over Nevada Saturday:

1. Chairmen of the boards: UW outrebounded Nevada 34-24 and 12-9 on the offensive glass. Rebounding is not the Cowboys’ strength, especially not on the offensive glass. But they were good there against a Nevada team that averaged more than 41 rebounds per game, and 15.4 offensive rebounds per contest. Even though senior forwards Larry Nance Jr.(11 points, 10 rebounds) and Derek Cooke Jr. (14 points, 10 rebounds) both had double-doubles, it was more than just rebounding. UW got to most of the 50-50 balls, or hustle plays in this game. Sometimes that resulted in an offensive rebound. Other times in extended a possession. The hustle the Cowboys showed was impressive. UW was credited with five team rebounds — four offensive — and many of those came on hustle plays. The Cowboys also scored a season-high 16 second-chance points.

Here are video highlights from the second half:


Riley Grabau

Riley Grabau

2. Grabau getting hot: Senior guard Riley Grabau was 3 of 5 from 3-point range and is 11 of 21 in his last three games. Doubt he can shoot at that pace the rest of the season, but it is good to see him knock down some shots. Junior guard Josh Adams was 2 of 5 from behind the arc and sophomore Jason McManamen was 1 of 2. If senior guard Charles Hankerson Jr. can only bust out of his slump. Hankerson was 0 of 5 from the field and 0 of 3 from 3. In his last three games he is 0 of 16 and 0 of 12 from behind the arc. Coach Larry Shyatt isn’t concerned about Hankeson because he’s playing good defense and being unselfish offensively. Hankerson said via his Twitter account after the game: “Great win. It’s all about the team. But I have to be better. I will be better.”

Here is Shyatt after the game:

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UW-Nevada men’s basketball: 3 keys, notes, quotes and video

My three keys for Wyoming’s men’s basketball game vs. Nevada today, which tips off at 4 p.m. at the Arena-Auditorium in Laramie:

Larry Nance

Larry Nance

1. Nance vs. West: Two of the better big men in the Mountain West will go against each other today in Wyoming senior Larry Nance Jr. and Nevada junior AJ West. Nance leads UW in scoring (16.4 ppg), rebounding (6.9 rpg) and blocked shots (1.1 bpg), and those figures go up to 19.6 ppg, 8.1 rpg and 1.3 bpg in league play. West is one of 19 players in the country that averages a double-double (12.3 ppg, 10.1 rpg). He also averages nearly three blocks per game, and leads the nation in offensive rebounds (6.1 per game). These two have formed a nice rivalry over the last year or so.

Here is my video preview on the game:

2. Second-chance points: West isn’t the only player for Nevada that crashes the offensive glass. Nevada averages more than 15 offensive rebounds per game. UW must do a good job of defensive rebounding and not giving the Wolf Pack second and third chances at baskets.

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UW-Utah State men’s hoops: 3 takes, notes, quotes and video

My three takes from Wyoming’s 56-44 loss at Utah State Tuesday night.

1. It was bound to happen sometime: Meaning a team was going to take away UW senior forward Larry Nance Jr. inside and make the Cowboys win by shooting from the outside. Even though Nance had 14 points, six rebounds and four assists, he was 7 of 15 from the field and six of his shots were outside of the paint. Utah State’s zone defense, with is long and athletic players, wreaked havoc. UW had 14 turnovers, including a season-high by junior guard Josh Adams. The Cowboys shot just 36 percent and was 30.4 from 3-point range. They also got to the free-throw line only three times.

Here is Nance after the game:

2. Turnover trouble: UW came into the game averaging 12.6 turnovers in league play, and the 14 turnovers in this game marked the fifth straight game where its had 13 or more. Utah State scored 14 points off UW’s turnovers in this game. That must improve moving forward. Discouraging from this game was Adams and Grabau combined for 10 turnovers. Said Grabau: “We’ve got to clean that up, and I have to do a better job as the point guard leading the team. I put that stuff on me. I need to put the guys where they need to be and take care of the ball.”

Here is coach Larry Shyatt after the game:

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UW-New Mexico men’s hoops: 3 takes, notes, quotes and VIDEO

My three takes from Wyoming’s 63-62 overtime win over New Mexico Saturday at the Arena-Auditorium in Laramie:

1. Similar to last week for Nance: UW senior forward Larry Nance Jr. missed a free throw with 14.9 seconds left to play in overtime that would have tied the game. But a few seconds later, he stole the ball and ended up with the game-winning dunk with 3.2 seconds left. In UW’s 70-65 triple overtime win at Fresno State last week, Nance missed two free throws with 0.5 seconds left in the second overtime that would have won the game. “Apparantly its my thing to miss clutch free throws late when we win,” Nance said. Still, Nance finished with a team-high 23 points, and was 11 of 13 from the line. He also had six rebounds, five turnovers, four assists, two steals and a blocked shot. Only one of those turnovers came in the second half and overtime.

Here are late-game highlights, including Nance’s steal and dunk in the final seconds, and player interviews after the game:

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UW-New Mexico men’s basketball: 3 keys, notes, quotes and video

Three keys for Wyoming in its game today against New Mexico, which tips off at 2 p.m. MT at the Arena-Auditorium in Laramie.

1. No 3s for Greenwood: New Mexico senior guard Hugh Greenwood shoots 30.1 percent from 3-point range. But he made six 3s in each of the Lobos’ last two road games — both wins. A lot of different New Mexico players can hurt UW today, but the Cowboys can’t let Greenwood go off from the perimeter or it could be a long afternoon.

2. Make perimeter shots: New Mexico will play 11 guys, and there is no shortage of post players it can turn to. UW needs its offense to feed off of senior forward Larry Nance Jr. inside, but the Cowboys probably won’t get New Mexico into foul trouble. The Lobos and a long and athletic squad, so to loosen things up inside, the Cowboys need to make some perimeter shots.

3. Feed off the atmosphere: UW’s largest crowd in 10 years is expected to be there today (10,000-plus). The players need to feed off that energy, especially early. They can’t be too amped up and make silly mistakes, but if they can grab some early momentum and go with it, it could be a fun afternoon at the A-A.

Here is my video preview of today’s game:

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More minutes coming for Aka Gorski?

Some fans have asked me recently what is up with Wyoming true freshman guard Alexander Aka Gorski and why he has not played much, especially in the Cowboys’ first few conference games.

Alexander Aka Gorski

Alexander Aka Gorski

Prior to the Cowboys’ game at Fresno State last Saturday, Aka Gorski played one minute in games against UNLV and Boise State.

But at Fresno State, Aka Gorski played eight minutes and hit his first shot — a 3-pointer — in UW’s 70-65 triple overtime victory. Most of those minutes, and his 3-pointer, came in the first half.

“He’s put himself in position (to play more) because he’s in great shape now, he’s healthier now and he does make shots at practice, which reminds you there’s a need to get him on the floor,” UW coach Larry Shyatt said Monday.

Aka Gorski fractured the middle finger on his left hand during fall practice. He missed UW’s first four games, but despite wearing a large splint, did see some playing time. The splint has been off for about a month now. Continue reading

UW-Fresno State men’s hoops: 3 takes, video and interviews

Where do you start to sum up No. 25 Wyoming’s 70-65 triple overtime win at Fresno State Saturday night?

Don’t know of three takes does it justice, but here we go:

1. Big Shot Hank: Senior guard Charles Hankerson Jr. made a 3-pointer in the final seconds of the third overtime to seal the win for UW. It’s been Hankerson’s thing to make 3s late in the shot clock this season, and none were as big as this one. Maybe it wasn’t planned, and perhaps it was a bit lucky, but it was a huge shot. Hankerson finished with nine points, six rebounds and two assists.

Here are all the late-game highlights, including the final sequences in all three overtimes. Sorry for some of the obstructive views. And, here is Hankerson talking about his big shot.

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UW-Boise State postgame thoughts, notes, quotes and video

One thing you can say about this Wyoming men’s basketball team — it does a good job with halftime adjustments.

For the third time in four conference games UW trailed at the half. Saturday, it was down 31-30 at home to Boise State. The Broncos made 6 of 14 3-pointers in the first 20 minutes. They only made four 2-point baskets.

But the Cowboys played better defense, had some spectacular offensive plays and made all 10 of their free throws in the second half for a 65-54 victory in front of a solid crowd of 7,024 — the second largest of the season — Saturday afternoon at the Arena-Auditorium.

UW won its seventh straight game, 13th in a row at home and sits atop the Mountain West at 15-2 overall and 4-0 in league play — the only undefeated team in the MW right now.

Boise State entered the game leading the MW in scoring (71.8 ppg) and 3-point shooting percentage (38.3). It shot 40 percent for the game at 10 of 25, which ties for the most 3-point baskets UW has allowed this season.

Sophomore forward James Webb III — at 6-foot-9 — was 5 of 7 from 3. He came into the game 10 of 29 on the season. But aside from Webb, UW did a good job on the other Boise State players from the perimeter. No one made more than one 3, and UW made senior guard Derrick Marks get most of his points from outside the arc. Marks had 16 points, but only one 3-pointer.

“In first half we gave Webb too many wide open 3s,” UW senior forward Larry Nance said. “He was still 5 of 7 but he hit three in the first half that were wide open. Their bigs like to shoot the 3. That is their threat, and ours is inside. It was a clash of play styles.”

Coach Larry Shyatt said UW also did a good job of switching defenses from man to zone in the second half, and recognizing those switches. Here is Shyatt after the game:

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UW-CSU postgame thoughts, notes, quotes and VIDEO

It may not have been one of the best played games between Wyoming and Colorado State in its long men’s basketball history.

But it was one of the more exciting ones as the Cowboys won 60-54 in front of a near sellout crowd of 8,108 Wednesday night at Moby Arena Wednesday night.

Wyoming had 17 turnovers, went nearly nine minutes without a basket in the second half, had two of its better players in foul trouble and its best player rattled by an injury.

Yet, the Cowboys never trailed in the game and improved to 14-2 overall, 3-0 in the Mountain West. It is the first time since the 2002-03 season that UW has started 3-0 in MW play. The Pokes also snapped a five-game losing streak at Colorado State (14-2, 1-2) and snapped the Rams’ 10-game home winning streak.

And one last streak, UW has won three straight road games after losing its first two this season.

Redshirt sophomore guard Jason McManamen of Torrington hit a 3-pointer with 23 seconds to play to give UW a 59-54 lead. That sealed the win. McManamen had eight poins off the bench and made both of his 3-pointers in the game.

Here are highlights of that last 3-pointers, and what McManamen had to say after the game:

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Shyatt couldn’t be happier with play, presence of Nance Jr.

Conference play begins Wednesday in the Mountain West, and Wyoming hosts UNLV at 7 p.m. Wednesday in Laramie.

Matt Youmans, who covers UNLV men’s basketball for the Las Vegas Review-Journal asked UW coach Larry Shyatt about senior forward Larry Nance Jr. and his return from ACL surgery back in early March. Youmans asked Shyatt if Nance has exceeded his expectations as far as his return and play so far this season.

Larry Nance

Larry Nance

“Larry’s never exceed my expectations in anything because it starts with the family and his value system,” Shyatt said. “Then it flowers onto the court. Was he ahead of schedule from a physical aspect? Absolutely. In this day and age, with young athletes I’ve had a chance to watch, coach and coach against, what  breath of fresh air to have a person that’s both fun to be around off the floor and who understands the game mentally.”

Nance was voted as the Preseason Player of the Year in the MW by the media, and Youmans asked Shyatt if he thinks Nance is the best player in the league.

“I haven’t seen many of the players, nor would I get into predictions,” Shyatt said. “You let that play out. It’s sort of fun to write and talk about, but it’s absurd to speculate when we haven’t had a league game yet.”

Nance leads UW with 14.5 points, 6.2 rebounds and 1.3 blocked shots per game. He also is shooting 57 percent from the field (69 of 121). Nance is second in steals (1.3 per game) and third in assists (2.3 per game).

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