Thoughts on All-MW men’s hoops team

Here is the link to the All-Mountain West men’s basketball team and other honorees:

http://www.themwc.com/sports/m-baskbl/spec-rel/030512aad.html

I was fortunate to vote on this, and I had four of the five players on both the first and second teams, including UW junior forward Leonard Washington. He’s UW’s highest All-MW pick since senior guard Brandon Ewing made the first team in 2008-09.

I didn’t vote for senior point guard JayDee Luster as the Defensive Player of the Year, but it was well-deserved. When coach Larry Shyatt says he’s the best defender he’s coached in his 40 years on the job, that really says something.

Continue reading

UW-TCU postgame thoughts

Even though the weather and the road prevented me from going to the game, it wouldn’t matter if you saw Wyoming play in person, on TV, listened on the radio or read a box score — the seniors took center stage on Senior Night.

Wyoming beat TCU 71-59 in arguably its best offensive game in Mountain West play to date.

One turnover and 18 assists on 28 baskets says it all. So does shooting nearly 54 percent from the field.

Continue reading

Coaches like MW balance at midway point

The second half of Mountain West play begins Saturday for the league’s eight men’s basketball teams, and the eight coaches have been impressed with what the league has done so far.

“You don’t see a huge separation,” said San Diego State coach Steve Fisher, whose team is ranked 13th nationally and is in first place in the MW at 20-3 overall and 6-1 in the league.

“Even though a team like Boise State has yet to win (a league game), they’ve without any reservation could e 3-4 or 4-3 with a blink of an eye. That’s good.”

Boise State lost to at San Diego State by two last week, and at home to No. 14 UNLV in overtime. 

Continue reading

No Cowboys on MWC all-conference teams

It can’t come as a big surprise that no Wyoming men’s basketball players made the first, second or third All-Mountain West Conference teams that were released Monday. You don’t get a lot a all-conference players when you’re 10-20 and 3-13 in league play.

But I thought sophomore guard Desmar Jackson would make the third team. He was a third team pick last season and was the league’s Freshman of the Year where he averaged 11.8 points per game and and 44 steals. As a sophomore Jackson was fifth in the league in scoring (14.7 ppg) and was second with 61 steals. He also was 12th in the MWC in rebounding (4.9 rpg).

Jackson and sophomore forward Amath M’Baye both earned honorable mention All-MWC honors. M’Baye played like an all-conference player in the second half of the conference season as he averaged 16.7 points per game over the last seven contests. He scored 10 points or more 20 times, but M’Baye didn’t do enough early in the season, at least in the eyes of the voters (which consisted of coaches and select media) to get into the first three teams.

I was one of those media members that voted. I had Jackson on the third team. TCU, which is 10-21 and 1-15 in the MWC got point guard Hank Thorns on the third team. He leads the MWC in assists at seven per game.

_______________________________________________________________________________

Couldn’t be happier for UW women’s players Hillary Carlson and Aubrey Vandiver. Both were first team All-MWC picks, and Vandiver was the Player of the Year.

Two great players that need to play great in the tournament.

Congrats ladies!

_______________________________________________________________________________

A couple of quotes from the final MWC coaches’ teleconference Monday:

“Players pretty much understand what BYU is and they come here because of that.” — Dave Rose on if he thinks BYU’s recruiting will be hurt or made harder with the dismissal of sophomore post Brandon Davies last week.

“I have no idea.” — UNLV’s Lon Kruger on if playing the MWC Tournament on the Rebles’ home floor at the Thomas & Mack Center will help his team. Here’s a clue coach, yes it will!!

“For the first time we know whether we win or not we’ll be in the (NCAA) Tournament.” — San Diego State’s 12th-year coach Steve Fisher on if his team is playing for seeding this week for the NCAA Tournament.

“You have to fight to keep your season alive, or it comes to an end.” — TCU’s Jim Christian

______________________________________________________________________________

An early prediction on who wins this tournament: UNLV beats New Mexico in the finals. UNLV has won five straight and nine of its last 11, and will upend San Diego State in the semis. New Mexico will beat BYU in the semis (after a hard-fought win over Colorado State in the quarterfinals Thursday) for its fifth straight win over the Cougars and third this season. The Cougars have no answer for New Mexico’s size.

If New Mexico beats UNLV then the MWC gets four teams in the NCAA Tournament for the second straight year. But UNLV will use the momentum of a home crowd and wins. It will be the Rebels, Cougars and Aztecs in the NCAAs. New Mexico and CSU go to the NIT. Air Force goes to the CBI.

Would love to hear your predictions.

Also the reminders above this story for the live blogs for all UW games, with two on Wednesday. Join me at about 2:45 p.m. for the men and at about 7:45 or so for the women. Links are on the main page of the blog.

Corner concerns

The topic of my Sunday column last week was the continued struggles in conference play the Wyoming men’s basketball team has had defending the 3-point shot.

Here’s a link to the column: http://www.wyomingnews.com/articles/2011/01/16/sports/20sports_01-16-11.txt

In four conference games UW is last in the MWC in 3-point shooting defense at 48.9 percent, and teams have averaged 11.5 3s per game.

And many of them have come from the corners against the Cowboys’ 2-3 zone.

Six of New Mexico’s 10 3-pointers came from at or near the corners. Same thing with TCU. But the Cowboys really struggled rotating to the corners last Saturday against Utah as 10 of the Utes’ treys were at or near the corner.

Utah coach Jim Boylen said his team made the extra pass to find the open player. Here’s what a couple of other MWC coaches told me when I asked them about their good 3-point shooting against UW.

“We were coming off a game where we played awful (an 83-49 loss at UNLV), and we were playing at home,” said TCU coach Jim Christian, whose team beat UW 78-60. “We shoot the ball much better at home, for whatever reason. I thought we played unselfishly. I thought our key players made shots early (guard Ronnie Moss and forward Garlon Green combined to go 9 of 17 from the field and 5 of 8 from 3-point range in the first half) so we played with a lot more confidence. I don’t think it was anything from their defense that we saw and was able to figure out. I think it was how we played and led us to get some good looks and build some confidence.”

There wasn’t a shot chart available from UW’s 73-60 loss at Colorado State to open MWC play on Jan. 4. But the Cowboys allowed a season-high 14 3s, and there were a fair share made from the corners. Senior guard Adam Nigon made 7 treys, including five in the first half.

“Wyoming is in a zone defense so you kind of know where your 3s are going to come from,” CSU coach Tim Miles said. “I think that helps a little bit. We had a senior (Nigon) that kind of willed us for that first half. Free-throw shooting and 3-point shooting I think are kind of catchy. They’re like a virus. One guy starts getting it and it gets to everybody.”

Needless to say, if UW is going to stay with a zone defense, and it likely will, it better work on better rotations and movement.

MWC men’s basketball news and notes

Here are some tidbits from Monday’s Mountain West Conference men’s basketball coaches teleconference:

–Wyoming coach Heath Schroyer said junior center Adam Waddell is sore after he played 23 minutes on a bad Achilles in last Saturday’s 67-66 win over New Mexico. Waddell, however, is scheduled to make the trip for Wednesday’s game with TCU — as is junior Afam Muojeke (knee).

–Schroyer was asked how much altitude and travel difficulties to Laramie helps his team. He said those are advantages, but not as much as a when the the MWC or the old WAC had travel partners and teams were forced to spend a weekend along the Front Range playing UW and Colorado State.

–TCU has lost four straight games, but opened league play against two of the MWC’s top teams — No. 6 San Diego State at home and at UNLV, which was No. 25 last week. This is what coach Jim Christian said when asked what he expects from his team moving forward: “I better see them respond by playing harder. I better see them respond by coming to practice today excited to get better and play Wednesday with a sense of urgency. That’s what I better get.”

–Christian said for the first time in his 22-year coaching career, he witnessed one of his players suffer an injury in pregame warm-ups when junior J.R. Cadot, a junior-college transfer from Sheridan College, sprained an ankle at UNLV. Cadot played but was ineffective. He is fifth in the MWC in rebounding (6.6 rpg) and has the most offensive boards with 51.

–For the first time in the MWC’s 12-year history, there are two league teams in the top 10 of the Coaches’ Poll. SDSU is sixth and BYU 10th. BYU is 11th in the AP Poll.

–Colorado State coach Tim Miles had the best quoteon the call. His team didn’t play last Saturday and Miles said he watched the second half of San Diego State’s win at Utah and had this to say about SDSU’s front court: “They make college teams look like intramural teams.”

–Utah coach Jim Boylen got a little defensive when a writer from the Seattle Times asked him about his recruiting and if there might be a void of talent there with the signing of four junior-college players. The writer asked if Boylen’s recruiting has or will change as the Utes move to the Pac-12 next year. Boylend defended his recruiting philosophies and said he and his staff are actively recruiting 25 of the top 100 recruits in the nation right now.

See Tuesday’s Wyoming Tribune Eagle www.wyomingnews.com and Laramie Boomerang www.laramieboomerang.com for more on Monday’s teleconference.

I will host a live chat at 3 p.m. Wednesday to talk anything and everything UW sports. See this blog for more details on the link.