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.

Langley doesn’t make excuses

Wyoming interim men’s basketball coach Fred Langley didn’t pull any punches after the Cowboys lost 85-58 to No. 9 San Diego State Tuesday night in the final home game of the season.

At the final media timeout of the first half UW trailed 28-20 with 3:36 to play. The Cowboys trailed 37-20 at halftime, and they made only three field goals over the final 17 minutes of the half.

“We faded, along with our intensity,” Langley said. “I was really disappointed in our effort. As coaches we didn’t push the right buttons tonight. The players didn’t respond to their teammates.”

Langley was asked if there is an illness going around the team. A couple of players on Twitter hinted at that earlier in the day.

“I told them (after the game) you let yourself down if you can’t perform your best,” he said. “You’ve got to get to the doctor and you’ve got to do the things you need to do. You let your teammates down and a you let the fans down. There is no excuses. You’re going to sniffle and you’re going to tough it out.”

Langley said the offense dictated the defense, which is something he doesn’t want to see happen. UW made only 2 of 16 3s and couldn’t do anything inside agaisnt SDSU’s big and athletic frontcourt. SDSU was outscored 52-32 in the paint.

The 27-point win was the most by SDSU in a MWC road game in school history.

Langley went with a bigger lineup by not starting junior point guard JayDee Luster. He went with junior center Adam Waddell, sophomore forward Amath M’Baye and senior forward Djibril Thiam all between 6-9 and 6-10. It worked for about three-quarters of the first half, but UW was still outrebounded 43-26.

“It’s not an excuse to put a product like that on the floor for the fans,” Langely added. “It was hard to be a Cowboy player tonight. It was hard to be a Cowboy fan tonight. It was hard to be a Cowboy coach tonight. It was just a tough night. I can’t put my finger on it, but we’ve got to fix it.”

In his last home game Thiam had 13 points and two rebounds.

UW plays at No. 3 BYU Saturday. The Cowboys have lost 21 straight road games going back to more than two years. However, BYU suffered a blow today when sophomore forward Brandon Davies was dismissed from the team for a violation of the school’s honor code.

“Wow. He’s a big-time player,” SDSU senior forward Malcolm Thomas said. “Without him they’re still a good team and can still make a run. I don’t know what to say to that. I didn’t know that.”

Added Langley, who heard about Davies before the game: “I’m sure they’ll miss him, but they have a lot of depth as well.”

Schroyer talks about negativity

Wyoming coach Heath Schroyer wasn’t happy his team lost 69-62 at home to No. 8 Brigham Young Wednesday.

But he was pleased with the effort from his team, and the overall execution.

UW held BYU to 15 points below its scoring average, and caused senior point guard Jimmer Fredette to have his worst shooting game of the season. He was 7 of 21 from the field, but 10 of 11 from the line including a huge three-point play with 47.6 seconds to play.

The Cowboys are 8-14 overall, have lost six in a row and are in last place in the MWC at 1-7.

Not a lot to be positive about, despite a gutsy effort tonight.

“It’s been a very negative environment around this program for a month, and that’s been very taxing on these kids,” Schroyer said. “I’m really proud of them and how they came out tonight and really executed.”

“There’s been a lot of things that’s been out of this team’s control for a year and a half. When your limited on who you can play in practice and who you  an play in a game, and the league becomes the fourth-best league in the country, you’re going to struggle at times.

“I’m proud of our guys. This is a high-character group and has stuck together. It’s just very unfortunate the negativity that has surrouned this program for a month. It is what it is. Our kids have really battled and stayed together.”

Any thoughts on that?

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Some other notes and quotes from the game:

–“I didn’t really get it going, our team didn’t really get it going great tonight, but we were able to get a win,” Fredette said. “Sometimes you just don’t play well. We didn’t shoot the ball well (40.7 percent and 5 of 24 from 3-point range) and Wyoming was ready to play and had a great game plan.”

–Schroyer said BYU sophomore forward Brandon Davies is “next pro” on the Cougars’ roster. He was good against UW with 20 points and nine rebounds.

–Schroyer said junior center Adam Waddell had an MRI on his foot prior to the game Wednesday. Waddell played, but only 11 minutes off the bench with no points and three rebounds. Kind of weird to have an MRI the same day you play a game, isn’t it? Would hate to see another injury setback for Waddell.

–Schroyer also said sophomore forward Brian Gibson didn’t play due to back spasms.

–“I kept emploring our team to don’t play not to lose, we have to play to win. I thought we did that. I can’t fault our effort,” Schroyer said.

–Senior forward Djibril Thiam scored 12 points for his first double-digit scoring game in league play this season. He also had three blocked shots and is now tied for ninth place in school history with 82.

–Junior guard Francisco Cruz matched a career-high with 16 points and had a career-best nine rebounds. More impressively, he played all 40 minutes for the fourth time this season.

–The attendance of 5,131 was the first over 5,000 for UW this season, and largest of the season as well. There were times where the crowd was really into the game. I also noticed more BYU fans than normal. Many of them waited after the game to get Fredette’s autograph.

For more on this game, a complete recap of football signing day and an interesting historical piece on UW men’s hoops by Bob Hammond see Thursday’s Wyoming Tribune Eagle www.wyomingnews.com and Laramie Boomerang www.laramieboomerang.com.

Schroyer talks San Diego State

Talked with Wyoming men’s basketball coach Heath Schroyer for about 10 minutes this morning about the Cowboys’ game Saturday at No. 4 San Diego State, and the Aztecs’ 71-58 loss at No. 9 Brigham Young Wednesday night in Provo.

I don’t know about you, but that was a heckuva game.

Schroyer said SDSU has an “NBA-type front line” with the likes of sophomore Kawhi Leonard, seniors Malcolm Thomas and Billy White and junior Brian Carlwell.

“This is the best team the Aztecs have ever put out on the floor,” Schroyer added.

Despite the loss Schroyer was impressed with SDSU’s defense and it held BYU to 14 points below its scoring average, despite 43 points from senior guard Jimmer Fredette.

When asked about Fredette, the nation’s leading scorer and who comes to Laramie Wednesday to play the Pokes, Schroyer said: “Jimmer’s one of those guys that comes around once every so often. I think he’s the best player in college basketball.”

Schroyer said his team needs to rebound the ball better after UW was outrebounded 40-26 in its 74-65 home loss to UNLV Tuesday. Schroyer said his guards need to be more involved in rebounding.

Schroyer liked the minutes that senior Djibril Thiam and sophomore Brian Gibson played together in the post against the Rebels, and that combination could see more minutes at San Diego State, especially to help in rebounding. Gibson’s specialty is rebounding, and is fourth on the team (3.3 rpg). His 27 offensive boards are the third-most on the team.

Utes leave UW with a win

Saturday was the last time Utah played Wyoming in men’s basketball in the Arena-Auditorium.

Some sentimentalists may feel bad as Utah moves on to the Pac-12 next season. But based on the performance of the Cowboys, the Utes’ departure suits them just fine.

Utah made 12 3-pointers and UW made only two. The Cowboys were outrebounded 47-29 and lost 68-51 in front of their largest crowd of the season of 4,670. The 47 rebounds were the most UW has allowed this season.

“Inept” was how UW coach Heath Schroyer described the Cowboys’ offense.

A good word to describe UW’s 3-point shooting defense as the Utes made 12 treys. For more on that, see my Sunday column in the Wyoming Tribune Eagle www.wyomingnews.com and the Laramie Boomerang www.laramieboomerang.com.

UW also had no answer for Utah’s twin towers inside of 7-foot-3 David Foster and 7-footer Jason Washburn. They combined for only seven points, but had 19 rebounds and Foster had eight blocks.

“Anytime you have two big guys like that and when you drive to the rim they’re going to affect shots,” said junior center Adam Waddell, who had eight points and five rebounds. “You saw that (in this game).

UW trailed by as many as 18 early in the second half, but cut it to nine with about 13:20 to play. Utah made three huge 3s after that to put it away.

A few other interesting notes from the game:

–Sophomore forward Amath M’Baye had his first-ever double-double with 11 points and a career-high 10 rebounds.

–Waddell blocked a career-high four shots, and played a season-high 29 minutes. Hope that Achilles can hold up.

–Utah junior Will Clyburn was described by Schroyer as the Newcomer of the Year in the MWC. He backed that up with a game-highs 24 points and 12 rebounds. He’s a really nice player.

–Junior point guard JayDee Luster (hip) and senior forward Djibrial Thiam (toe) didn’t start but played. Luster has seven points, five assists and one turnover in 27 minutes. Thiam had two points and two boards in 14 minutes. On a scale of 1-10, Schroyer described their effectiveness as maybe a 6. Schroyer said he was “shocked” Luster played.

“That’s something we’re going to really have to watch because we can’t lose that kid, for sure,” said Schroyer on Luster.

–After playing all 40 minutes in the previous two games, junior guard Francisco Cruz got a little bit of a break having played 39 minutes.

UW hoops injury update

In a text message from Wyoming men’s coach Heath Schroyer, he said senior forward Djibril Thiam (toe) participated some walk-through activities in practice Friday afternoon.

Schroyer also said junior point guard JayDee Luster (hip) didn’t practice.

Both remain game-time situations for Saturday’s 1:30 p.m. contest with Utah.

Two starters day-to-day, Muojeke done

Wyoming coach Heath Schroyer said Thursday morning, less than 24-hours since the Cowboys’ 78-60 loss at TCU, that junior point guard JayDee Luster (hip) and senior forward Djibril Thiam (toe) are day-to-day for Saturday’s home game with Utah. Both players didn’t make the trip to TCU.

“They’re getting better. I think they feel better today than they did (Wednesday),” he said. “It will be game-time decisions for both. Neither one of them will be able to practice today.”

Luster was injured less than a week ago in what Schroyer described as one of the lightest practices of the season doing a shell drill while on offense. Thiam injured his big toe on his left foot prior to the start of conference play.

Schroyer also confirmed that junior forward Afam Muojeke will miss the rest of the season after he tore the meniscus in his left knee. It’s the same knee Muojeke ruptured the patellar tendon last year at Brigham Young. Schroyer said the meniscus injury is unrelated to the patellar tendon injury. He also felt he didn’t bring Muojeke back too fast from the tendon injury.

“He was cleared,” he said. “We really controlled his minutes and practice time. It’s just one of those things. It’s unfortunate and I feel sorry for him. But I do believe he will come back and have a great senior year.”

Schroyer described junior center Adam Waddell’s play against TCU as good, but that he wasn’t 100 percent like he was against New Mexico last Saturday. Waddell had six points and two rebounds in 28 minutes.

For more on UW’s injury-depleated roster and on Saturday’s game with Utah, see Friday’s Wyoming Tribune-Eagle www.wyomingnews.com and Laramie Boomerang www.laramieboomerang.com.

Schroyer said UW will look into getting Muojeke a medical redshirt, but didn’t know good the chances were. The way he talked about it didn’t sound too optimistic.

Injuries continue to plague Cowboys

Things keep getting tougher for the Wyoming men’s basketball team.

My fellow colleague and friend Eric Schmoldt at the Casper Star-Tribune reported late last night that senior forward Djibril Thiam (toe), junior point guard JayDee Luster (hip) and junior forward Afam Muojoke (knee) won’t play and didn’t make the trip for today’s game at TCU.

UW men’s basketball sports information director John Paradis said this afternoon that coach Heath Schroyer is “hopeful” Thiam and Luster — both starters — will play in Saturday’s home game against Utah. Paradis said both weren’t healthy enought to play at TCU so both were left home to receive more medical treatment.

Thiam hurt his toe about 10 days ago in practice, and aggravated the injury in both of the Cowboys’ first two conference games against Colorado State and New Mexico. Luster was injured in practice after last Saturday’s New Mexico game.

Muojeke injured his left knee recently, the same knee where he ruptured his patellar tendon nearly a year ago at Brigham Young. However, Paradis said this most recent injury is unrelated to the patellar tendon. Paradis said Muojeke will be re-evaluated by doctors when the team returns from TCU.

The Cowboys will have only eight scholarship players available against TCU.

Between this and all that’s been going on with UW football in the recent days, there’s a lot to talk about for my live chat at 3 p.m. today. Hope you can join me then. Here is the link, but it also is posted at the top of the main blog page. http://wyomingcowboysblog.com/2011/01/11/live-chat-u-of-w-sports-wednesday-112-3pm/

Thiam has bruised toe

Wyoming men’s basketball coach Heath Schroyer said Thursday senior forward Djibril Thiam has a bruised toe, which he aggravated in the Cowboys 73-60 loss at Colorado State Tuesday.

Schroyer said Thiam hurt the toe last week in practice, and injured it again going up for a layup in the first half at CSU.

Schroyer expects Thiam to start and play Saturday at home against New Mexico. Thiam is UW’s second-leading scorer (11.9 ppg) and leading rebounder (5.7 rpg), but had only five points and three boards in 31 minutes at CSU.

Schroyer held a teleconference with the media in his office Thursday. Here’s some other news and notes from that:

–Sophomore forward Amath M’Baye picked up his fourth technical foul of the season in the second half against CSU. The foul came early in the second half and M’Baye wasn’t much of a factor after that. He finished with four points and six rebounds. Schroyer said M’Baye responded well to the tongue-lashing he gave him after the technical and the next day after the game.

“Amath has to play well for us to have success,” Schroyer said. “We’re putting a lot on him as a sophomore. He’s a very emotional player and sometimes his emotions get the best of him. But he does play with passion and it matters to him, which is a really good thing.”

–Schroyer described New Mexico center Alex Kirk and guard Kendall Williams as the two best freshmen in the Mountain West Conference. The 6-foot-11 Kirk set a New Mexico freshman record with 31 points in the Lobos’ 102-62 home win over Cal-State Bakersfield Wednesday.

“He’s good, but he’s going to be really, really good,” Schroyer said of Kirk. “He reminds me of a (former Utah and current St. Louis men’s basketball coach Rick Majerus) big; a big dude that can score on the block but step out and shoot it. Kind of like a Michael Doliac kind of guy.”

Williams is New Mexico’s second leading scorer (11.9 ppg) and shoots 53.8 percent from 3-point range. Schroyer added he thinks Williams is the most talented freshman in the MWC.

–About New Mexico senior point guard Dariese Gary, Schroyer said: “He’s the most underrated player in the league. His on-ball defense is the best in the conference. He doesn’t make mistakes. He makes his free throws. He’s as good of a point guard as there is in the league.”

–Schroyer also described New Mexico junior forward Drew Gordon, a 6-9 transfer from UCLA, is a future NBA player.

–Junior forward Afam Muojeke (knee) and junior center Adam Waddell (Achilles) were “OK” during Wednesday’s light practice and work-out session. Both are expected to play Saturday, but still are day-to-day.

Free throws frustrate Luster

Wyoming didn’t lose to Colorado State 73-60 because junior point-guard JayDee Luster missed 7 of 8 free throws.

That’s right, 7 of 8.

But it didn’t help, and if Luster makes a few more of those in either half the outcome could have been different. But the Cowboys made only six field goals in the second half, and allowed CSU to make 14 3s. Those things were more damaging.

Nonetheless, another frustrating loss for UW (7-8 overall, 0-1 MWC), and a frustrating night for Luster.

“I’ve been making free throws all year, and I’ve got to step up to the line and make free throws,” said Luster, who was a 79.7 percent free-throw shooter entering the game.

“When we needed the free throws, we didn’t make them. When we needed the layups, we didn’t make them. When we needed to take good shots, we didn’t. Everybody, myself included, can be a lot better.”

CSU senior guard Adam Nigon scored 21 points on 7 of 10 3-point shooting. Five different players made 3s for the Rams (11-4, 1-0).

“We didn’t get to shooters, and Nigon just kicked our ass,” he said.

UW wanted to limit the touches of CSU senior forward Andy Ogide and Travis Franklin. It did as both combined for 17 points, about 14 below their combined average.

But UW didnt get a lot from its post players. Amath M’Baye, Djibril Thiam, Brian Gibson and Adam Wadell combined for nine points and 12 rebounds. Gibson and Waddell didn’t score.

CSU had 22 assists on its 25 field goals. UW was better in the assist category with 12 assists on 20 field goals.

Liked what I saw from junior Francisco Cruz with 14 points. He seems to be doing better of creating his own shot off the dribble. Not great, but better.

Still, UW has lost 15 straight road games and 19 of 21 away from Laramie (including neutral site games) dating back to Feb. 28, 2009.

See Wednesday’s Wyoming Tribune Eagle www.wyomingnews.com and Laramie Boomerang www.laramieboomerang.com for more on the game.