Nance Jr. measures up at NBA Draft Combine

Former Wyoming men’s basketball player (kind of sounds weird to read that, doesn’t it) Larry Nance Jr. is currently at the NBA Draft Combine in Chicago and will be there through the weekend.

Larry Nance Jr.

Larry Nance Jr.

Similar to the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis, players go through a wide range of sport-specific tests. With the NBA Draft Combine, players also will play games for scouts and NBA team officials to watch, and interviews will be held.

Here are some of Nance’s specifics:

Height without shoes: 6-7 1/2

Height with shoes: 6-8 1/2

Weight: 226.6

Body fat percentage: 6.4

Hand length: 9.0 inches

Hand width: 9.75 inches

Standing reach: 9 feet

Wingspan: 7-feet, 1.5 inches

Lane agility time: 10.89 seconds

Shuttle run: 3.01 seconds

3/4-court sprint: 3.25 seconds

Standing vertical jump: 29 inches

Maximum vertical jump: 37.5 inches. That tied for the best jump among all power forwards at the combine.

Here’s the link to all the measurables for all the players at this year’s NBA Draft Combine:
http://stats.nba.com/draftcombine/#!/anthro/?ls=iref:nba:specialst3b

Nance played in the Combine’s first 5-on-5 game Thursday afternoon, and finished with eight points, eight rebounds and two blocked shots in 21 minutes. He was 3 of 6 from the field and had five offensive rebounds. Nance was 2 of 7 from the free-throw line, which is uncharacteristic of him as he was well over a 70 percent free-throw shooter at UW.

Friday, Nance had four points, seven rebounds (four offensive), four turnovers and three fouls. He was 2 of 5 from the field.

Nance received some high praise from the broadcast team from ESPN2 during Thursday’s game. Friday, ESPN’s Fran Frachilla said he thinks Nance will be drafted in the second round, but may spend some time in the NBA’s Developmental League..

Nance will not be with four of his senior teammates in Laramie this weekend for graduation ceremonies. However, UW sent this picture of those guys along with coach Larry Shyatt.

From left to right, Jack Bentz, Charles Hankerson Jr., Derek Cooke Jr., Larry Nance Jr. and Riley Grabau pose with coach Larry Shyatt as all five Wyoming men's basketball seniors will receive their degrees this weekend. Photo from UW.

From left to right, Jack Bentz, Charles Hankerson Jr., Derek Cooke Jr., Larry Nance Jr. and Riley Grabau pose with coach Larry Shyatt as all five Wyoming men’s basketball seniors will receive their degrees this weekend. Photo from UW.

Jack’s Journal: UW senior guard Jack Bentz gives his take on Cowboys’ NCAA Tournament experience

University of Wyoming senior guard Jack Bentz is going to write a daily journal entry on his and the team’s experiences this week as the Cowboys prepare to play in the NCAA Tournament against Northern Iowa.

The game is at 11:40 p.m. MT Friday at Key Arena in Seattle. Here is Bentz’s take from Thursday.

 

Preparation meets opportunity.

Today was our last day of preparation before the game tomorrow. We began the day with a morning practice at Seattle Pacific University where we did a lot of work with the scout team. As a four-year scout team veteran, it is our job to impersonate our opponent’s personnel and simulate their offensive and defensive schemes.

Jack Bentz

Jack Bentz

From there we went to Key Arena, the site of where our game will be played and the former home of the Seattle Supersonics, to have another workout. Before we took the floor, though, we had a NCAA team media session. After the media obligations, the Pokes stepped foot on the Key Arena floor and were greeted by Wyoming fans and “Ragtime Cowboy Joe” playing from the speakers. During the workout, the goal was to get a feel for the gym and arena. After we warmed up we did our normal pre-game ritual of everyone taking a charge. This time, however, was different. After the last person to go, coach Shyatt jumped in and took one himself. At 63, his form and technique was impeccable. We were all very impressed and just happy to see him get up afterwards. Our workout consisted mostly of ball handling and a lot of shooting.

As the game draws near, we are reminded of what’s at stake. While we are preparing for this game like every other, we know that this tournament is one-and-done. Northern Iowa is a very good team, very well coached and is 30-3 for a reason. Nevertheless, we are embracing the moment and are determined to leave it all out on the floor. As the saying goes in March Madness, “survive and advance.”

We will have a team dinner and film session and then it is time to rest and get our minds right for the game. We are eagerly looking forward to tipoff and seeing a lot of brown and gold in the stands at Key Arena. Go Pokes!

 

Jack’s Journal: Day 3 of UW senior guard Jack Bentz’s take of NCAA Tournament experience

University of Wyoming senior guard Jack Bentz will provide WyoSports and this blog with a daily diary of his thoughts as the Cowboys go through the process of preparing for the NCAA Tournament. Here’s the third installment from Wednesday, March 18:

Seattle bound.

Jack Bentz

Jack Bentz

After a solid morning practice in Laramie, we loaded up our bus and headed to the Laramie regional airport. There, waiting for us, was a huge 737-charter jet, accompanied by some pretty distinguished guests. Governor Matt Mead, Maury Brown, Tom Burman, and Adam Waddell were all on board. Not to mention our cheerleaders and other members of the Cowboy Joe and UW athletic administration. If that’s not cool enough, get this: All 12 of us players were reserved first class! As you can imagine, the guys were pretty excited.

As we flew into Seattle, the view from our plane windows gave us some beautiful aerial views of scenic Seattle skyline and famous landmark, the Space Needle. We then landed and upon arrival, climbed into a Seattle Seahawks team bus. From there, we drove through the city and passed Safeco Field (Mariners) and Century Link Field (Seahawks) en route to our downtown hotel.

Inside the hotel, NCAA official hosts greeted us, welcoming us with gift bags full of snacks and NCAA March Madness gear. The team will room with their same teammates that we’ve roomed with all year. For me, this is my second year rooming with Junior (Hankerson) and thank goodness he is not a snorer. We also have a team meeting with film followed by a team dinner at a restaurant.

While the trip has obviously gotten off to a great start, we are treating this like every other road trip, which is with the mindset of a “business trip.” There are certainly many perks that come with playing in the NCAA tournament, but we know what our main reason is for being here. There is a time and place to enjoy the moment and there is a time to take care of business. We are already looking forward to tomorrow’s practice and our last day of pregame preparation.

Jack’s Journal: Day 2 take from Wyoming senior guard Jack Bentz

University of Wyoming senior guard Jack Bentz will provide WyoSports and this blog with a daily diary of his thoughts as the Cowboys go through the process of preparing for the NCAA Tournament. Here’s the second installment from Tuesday, March 17:

 

“Win the day.”

Jack BentzThis has been the team’s motto for the past month. As the season progresses, coaches and players are determined to take advantage of every day and make the most of each opportunity we take the floor.

Coach (Larry) Shyatt’s message was to not look backward and only focus on what’s ahead of us — today’s practice and Northern Iowa. We had a great practice, film session and team dinner. The team is definitely locked in and we’re starting to learn more about Northern Iowa through film and scouting reports.

We are very fortunate to have a coaching staff as experienced and accomplished in the NCAA Tournament. Their history and expertise in the tournament is invaluable to us. We are able to learn from them about the ins and outs of the tournament and how to effectively prepare as well as game plan for our opponent.

Today we will have practice in the morning and then it is wheels up to Seattle. The team will be chartering out of Laramie in the afternoon and we are packing for five days. We all have our raincoats ready and I’m told Papa Shy’s gold sweaters are waterproof — so don’t worry, Poke Nation.

Bentz shares Wyoming NCAA Tournament experience with you

University of Wyoming senior guard Jack Bentz will provide WyoSports and this blog with a daily diary of his thoughts as the Cowboys go through the process of preparing for the NCAA Tournament. Here’s the first installment:

Back to work.

Jack Bentz

Jack Bentz

After a long week in Las Vegas, we could not wait to return home to Wyoming, with the Mountain West Conference championship trophy in our hands, and championship hats on our heads. On top of that, we could not believe the amount of people who came to the NCAA Selection Show watch party Sunday at the Gateway Center.

We cannot thank all of the fans and supporters of our team enough. It is truly an honor to represent the state and wear the brown and gold. And to be able to enjoy that moment together, seeing our name announced, was truly special.

Despite all the celebration and post-tournament festivities, we were eager to get back to work. We had an afternoon practice and weight lifting in the A-A (Arena-Auditorium), where the focus was solely on ourselves. While the coaches have been watching lots of game film on Northern Iowa and preparing scouting reports, we took today to clean things up on our offense and defense from the past tournament. Not to mention getting our wind back and re-acclimating ourselves to the unforgiving 7,200 feet altitude.

One of Coach Shyatt’s favorite quotes is “don’t drink the poison.” The poison stands for negative distractions, i.e. social media, “bracketologists,” or anything else that can get in our way and impair our vision.

We have already heard this message from Coach Shy multiple times throughout the year (for some of us four years) and I can guarantee it won’t be the last time we hear that phrase this week.

The team is on edge and excited to not only continue playing but to travel to Seattle, determined to win. Tomorrow is a new day and another opportunity to get better.

3 takes on Wyoming’s 52-49 OT loss at New Mexico

My three takes from Wyoming’s 52-49 overtime loss at New Mexico Saturday night to end the regular season.

1. Good defense or bad offense?: A combination of both. The two teams missed a combined 67 shots. There were missed dunks, missed chances on the fast-break — just about any missed shot you can imagine occurred in this game. For UW, it was good to see it play good defense, but the missed shots were too much to overcome the good defense. The 15 make baskets the Cowboys made tied a season-low, as did the 14 first-half points. When your two leading scorers — senior forward Larry Nance Jr. and junior guard Josh Adams — go a combined 8 of 30 from the field, UW won’t win many games.

Here is UW coach Larry Shyatt after the game:


2. Shot selection: As you heard Shyatt say in his postgame interview, he liked the fact that Nance took a 3 late in overtime that would have won the game for UW in the final seconds. Not sure if having a guy like Nance, who is 10 of 32 this season from 3-point range should be taking that shot. New Mexico keyed on senior guard Riley Grabau, who made three 3s in the second half and missed a shot at the buzzer in regulation that would have won the game. Even though Adams was 1 of 11 in the game and 0 of 2 from 3, wouldn’t he have been a better option?

Here is Nance on that after the game:


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Wyoming 76, Utah State 53: 3 takes, notes and video

My three takes from Wyoming’s 76-53 victory over Utah State Wednesday night.

1. That’s more like it: UW played better defense as the 53 points was the second-lowest point total its allowed in Mountain West play this season. Utah State shot a respectable 45.8 percent, but was just 6 of 18 from 3-point range. The Cowboys forced 11 turnovers and scored 15 points off those mistakes. The Cowboys also didn’t allow any second-chance points, and held a 30-21 rebounding edge. The Cowboys did a good job of going after Utah State redshirt freshman forward David Collette, who had 10 points in 5 of 6 shooting, but he wasn’t much of a factor in the game. The Cowboys never trailed in the game. This was the UW team many fans were used to seeing much of this season.

Larry Nance Jr.

Larry Nance Jr.

2. Nifty Nance: Senior forward Larry Nance Jr. had his seventh double-double of the season and 18th of his career with 21 points and 10 rebounds — both game highs. But what stood out about Nance’s game was his ability to hit short to mid-range jumpers. Seven of his nine baskets were jumpers, which Utah State was willing to give him. If Nance can continue to hit those shots, he becomes much more difficult to defend. Perhaps it was the emotion of senior night, but Nance looked more like the preseason player of the year in the MW in this game, and looked like he is on the tail end of recovering from mononucleosis — good news for the Cowboys as tournament time approaches.

Here are some second half highlights — along with some special events late and after the game — along with the post-game interview session with all five UW seniors:



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UW vs. Utah State men’s basketball: 3 keys, notes, quotes and video

My three keys for Wyoming’s regular-season home-finale against Utah State, which starts at 7 p.m. MT Wednesday at the Arena-Auditorium in Laramie.

Riley Grabau

Riley Grabau

1. Perimeter defense: UW has lost four of its last six games, and in all of those losses they’ve allowed 10 3-pointers three times, and 11 in last Saturday’s loss at UNLV. Utah State shoots about 40 percent from behind the arc, and will have three or four guys on the floor most of the time that shoots between 40 and 50 percent. The Cowboys must do a better job defending the perimeter because if Utah State gets hot from long range, they will be in for a long night.

“Yeah, I think we’re a little out of rhythm. I think we getting back to where we were at the start of the year. We need to get tougher on the defensive end. Coach (Larry Shyatt) said we need to get tougher on the defensive end and I agree with him, we do.” — UW senior guard Riley Grabau

Here is my video preview of the 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-Southern men’s basketball postgame thoughts

Two things stood out to me in Wyoming’s 57-39 victory over Southern Saturday in Laramie: the play of senior walk-on point guard Jack Bentz, along with the energy and play of senior forward Derek Cooke Jr.

The Cowboys (10-2) were without senior starting point guard Riley Grabau (hamstring) and redshirt freshman forward Alan Herndon (back and chest). UW got off to somewhat of a slow start with six turnovers over the first nine minutes.

Derek Cooke Jr.

Derek Cooke Jr.

But when Bentz came in, there were no more turnovers and UW went on a 16-6 run to end the half. More on Bentz in my game story in Sunday’s Wyoming Tribune Eagle and Laramie Boomerang, and online at wyosports.net.

Cooke finished with 14 points, a season-high eight rebounds and tied career-highs with three assists and three steals. In the second half he pulled down a rebound and dribbled coast-to-coast for a dunk that had the sparse crowd at the A-A excited.

Cooke joked that he’s a point-forward, but junior guard Josh Adams quicky said he’s not joking but that Cooke — more often than not — makes the right decision and gets the ball to a guard after a rebound.

But Bentz chimed in with: “He’s taking our point guard spot.”

Here is Cooke, Adams and Bentz after the game:


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