Pregame notes/quotes for UW-New Mexico men’s hoops

Wyoming (9-5 overall, 0-1 Mountain West) hosts the preseason favorite to win the conference in New Mexico (10-3, 1-0) at 7 p.m. tonight.

The Lobos have won four of the last five MW regular-season titles, and became the first school in league history to win back-to-back regular season and conference tournament titles. Four starters and six lettermen return from last season’s team.

Despite a new coach in Craig Neal, who was Steve Alford’s top assistant and got the job after Alford took the UCLA job, the Lobos do much of the same things — and they do them well.

It should be noted this game was originally scheduled to be played at 9:05 p.m. as a ESPNU/ESPN3 flex game. When ESPNU didn’t pick up the game for television, UW was able to move the game time back to 7 p.m. ESPN3 is an online only way to watch the game. Here is the link to watch it:

http://espn.go.com/watchespn/index/_/id/1447688/Mens-College-Basketball-New-Mexico-vs-Wyoming
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Video: Steve Fisher

In basketball mode this weekend as I post some video with some of the Mountain West’s men’s basketball coaches. Fisher has been at San Diego State since the MW was formed. He mentioned one of the best players he coached against was current New Mexico coach Steve Alford, who was sitting directly across from Fisher when I did this interview.

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.

MWC men’s hoops news and notes

Wyoming’s next opponent, Air Force on Saturday, has already matched its win total from last season at 10. The Falcons are 10-6 and 1-2 in Mountain West Conference play and nearly beat UNLV at home last Saturday before losing 64-52.

“They’re playing witha lot more confidence, and the biggest thing is (Air Force coach Jeff Reynolds) has all his guys healthy,” UW coach Heath Schroyer said. “They’re much improved. They’re a lot better and they’re hard to play. They’re very good at home. They had Vegas on ropes and beat Utah at home.”

UW hopes to use this week to get some guys healthy and figure out a way to snap a 17-game road losing streak. For more on that, see Tuesday’s Wyoming Tribune Eagle www.wyomingnews.com and Laramie Boomerang www.laramieboomerang.com.

Some other news and notes from Monday’s MWC coaches teleconference:

–Air Force may have beaten UNLV last Saturday if it had made free throws, but it was only 12 of 25 from the line.

–San Diego State made 13 3-pointers in its 87-77 win at New Mexico. The Aztecs (19-0, 4-0) remain No. 6 in the nation.

–Brigham Young senior guard Jackson Emery will be honored prior to Tuesday’s home game with TCU for breaking the school’s career record for steals, previously held by Danny Ainge. Reynolds described Emery as one of the best shooters in the MWC. Emery shoots 38.8 percent from 3-point range.

–UNLV coach Lon Kruger said senior guard Tre’Von Willis (knee) is probable for Wednesday’s home game against Colorado State. Willis didn’t play at Air Force.

–Brigham Young senior guard Jimmer Fredette is getting a lot of national attention these days after his 47-point game last Tuesday at Utah. He was named MWC Player of the Week for the third straight week, fifth time this season and 12th time in his career.

“He’s more of a humble kid now than he was then,” said Cougars coach Dave Rose when asked how Fredette has handled all the attention this season. “At times I think it’s almost embarassing for him.”

MWC men’s basketball news and notes

Here are some tidbits from Monday’s first Mountain West Conference men’s basketball teleconference of the season:

–At 15-0, No. 6 San Diego State is the only undefeated team in conference history heading into league play. The Aztecs play three of their first four conference games on the road, starting Wednesday at TCU.

–Brigham Young senior guard Jimmer Fredette won player of the week honors for the third time this season. Fredette leads the MWC in scoring (24.1 ppg) but more impressive to coach Dave Rose is the fact Fredette leads the Cougars and is fourth in the MWC in assists (4.4 apg).

–Air Force coach Jeff Reynolds said in less than two years players in his program have suffered 11 concussions. Ouch!!

–The only team not to open conference play during the week is New Mexico. It hosts Cal-State Bakersfield Wednesday before heading to Wyoming Saturday.

–The game of the week is Wednesday where No. 15 BYU (14-1) plays at No. 25 UNLV (12-2) Wednesday. BYU has won four straight games, while UNLV has won three in a row to get back into the top 25. BYU leads the MWC in scoring (83.9 ppg) while UNLV is second in scoring defense (60.1 ppg).

–UW coach Heath Schroyer said the school is still trying to reschedle the Houston Baptist game, which was postponed last week because UW couldn’t get to Denver in time to catch its flight due to poor weather. Schroyer said he wasn’t sure when it would be rescheduled, and if it wasn’t the series would be moved to next season. The Cowboys reportedly get two home games out of the contract for going to Houston once.

–Colorado State coach Tim Miles said his team was emotionally down after a 77-75 loss to Hampton at a tournament last weekend in San Francisco. Hampton made a 3-pointer with less than a second to play for the game-winning basket. But when asked if that would be a factor in Tuesday’s home game with UW, Miles said. “It’s Wyoming.”

–The best quote from the teleconference came from San Diego State coach Steve Fisher. He was asked how scheduling might be for his team next season based on the success its had so far this season, and based on how difficult this season’s schedule was to put together. “Next year everyone might want to play us since we lose five players and possibly a sixth.”

See Tuesday’s Wyoming Tribune Eagle www.wyomingnews.com and Laramie Boomerang www.laramieboomerang.comfor more UW-CSU and MWC men’s basketball coverage, along with an analysis piece by Scott Nulph on the Cowgirls heading into MWC play. Hope you will join me for the first live blog of 2011 from the UW-CSU men’s game in Fort Collins. We will start at about 6:45 p.m. Here is the link: http://wyomingcowboysblog.com/2010/12/30/live-blog-wyoming-vs-colorado-state-tuesday-14/

NCAA and agents

My column today, and first in quite some time, hit on the recent investigations involving sports agents and alleged contact with college football players. This isn’t a new problem by any means, but it has certainly been in the news a lot lately.

What can be done about it in terms of the agents breaking the rules? I offered some ideas, perhaps far-fetched, but hopefully it will make for some discussion and make you think. If I had the answer to this, I probably wouldn’t be doing this right now. Let me know what you think after reading the column below.

http://www.wyomingnews.com/articles/2010/07/22/sports/19sports_07-22-10.txt

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The Wyoming women’s volleyball team will play two games on the mtn. this fall, both on the road. UW will play at UNLV at 7:30 p.m. Oct. 7 and at TCU at 5:30 p.m. Nov. 11

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Here are some other interesting stories from around the MWC I found this morning. Check out the tomfoolery with the CU-CSU football game.

http://www.deseretnews.com/article/700050012/BYU-basketball-Jimmer-Fredette-is-a-more-crafty-player-at-the-USA-team-camp.html

http://blogs.denverpost.com/sports/2010/07/21/csu-students-hack-computer-system-for-cu-tix/11266/

http://gazetteafasports.freedomblogging.com/