How UW writers voted on All-MW men’s basketball team

On Monday, the media that covers Mountain West men’s basketball released its All-MW basketball postseason honors. A few years ago, the media voted with the league’s 11 head coaches for the all-conference team, but the league decided to just go with the coaches so the media decided to do their own all-conference voting.

The coaches’ all-conference team will be released Tuesday.

How it works with the media is each “market” is granted one vote. Myself and Davis Potter of the Casper-Star Tribune got together for the Wyoming “market” vote.

Here is a link to the media’s all-conference team, and individual awards.

https://www.wyosports.net/university_of_wyoming/mens_basketball/james-earns-first-team-all-mw-honors-by-media/article_c6e8d74a-4422-11e9-a524-0bab07e16a40.html

UW senior guard Justin James was UW’s lone representative on the all-conference lists by the media. He earned first team honors for the second consecutive year. James led the MW during the regular season in scoring (21.8 ppg) and steals (1.52 per game). He also was fourth is assists (4.4 per game) and fifth in rebounding (8.6 per game).

The media’s all-conference break down had a first, second and third team, along with some honorable mentions. All of the “market” ballots were tallied and given point totals.

Below is how myself and Potter voted:

1. Sam Merrill, Utah State
2. Jordan Caroline, Nevada
3. Justin James, Wyoming
4. Caleb Martin, Nevada
5. Nico Carvacho, Colorado State
6. Braxton Huggins, Fresno State
7. Jalen McDaniels, San Diego State
8. Deshon Taylor, Fresno State
9. Lavelle Scottie, Air Force
10. Neemais Queta, Utah State
11. Justinian Jessup, Boise State
12. Cody Martin, Nevada13. Nate Grimes, Fresno State
14. Ryan Swan, Air Force
15. Noah Robotham, UNLV

Player of the Year: Sam Merrill, Utah State
Defensive Player of the Year: Cody Martin, Nevada
Freshman of the Year: Neemais Queta, Utah State
Newcomer of the Year: Braxton Huggins, Fresno State
6th Man of the Year: Jazz Johnson, Nevada
Coach of the Year: Craig Smith, Utah State

Potter and I were on the same page with the rest of the media in terms of who made the first, second and third team. As you can see, we had Nevada senior Cody Martin as the league’s Defensive Player of the Year, but Utah State freshman center Neemias Queta garnered more votes.

Potter and I had the same guys for the individual awards as the rest of the media.

Any thoughts, opinions on the media’s all-conference team?

Naughton quietly sees his time at UW come to an end

First and foremost, it is good to be back posting on this blog. Sorry that it has been so long since the last post — some time during football season last fall. There were plenty of issues and reasons why, but I know you don’t care about that.

Anyway, Saturday marks the final home game for the University of Wyoming men’s basketball team. A forgettable season is about over as UW enters the 4 p.m. game with New Mexico at 7-23 overall and 3-14 in the MW.

It is senior day for two UW players — guard Justin James and forward Jordan Naughton. I have a feature on James that will run in Saturday’s Wyoming Tribune Eagle and Laramie Boomerang, and online at wyosports.net so I hope you will check that out.

Jordan Naughton

James’ career at UW has been prolific. Unfortunately for Naughton, his has been quiet and unassuming — much like his personality. Back and knee injuries have limited Naughton to 20 games this season, and Saturday will be his 90th in four years. However, 60 of those games came in his first two seasons.

Naughton’s career averages are 3.7 points, 2.2 rebounds and 12.2 minutes per game. This season, in 20 games, he’s averaged 4.0 points and 1.9 rebounds.

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MW men’s basketball power rankings entering third week of conference play

Here are my weekly power rankings for Mountain West men’s basketball teams. Look for these rankings on a weekly basis throughout the conference season. RPI numbers are from NCAA.com as of Jan. 7.

1. Nevada (15-3 overall, 4-0 MW, 16 RPI): The lone undefeated team in conference play, and also the team with the longest winning streak in the conference at four. Not the deepest team in the MW, but probably the most talented. It will take a heck of an effort from any team in the league to beat the Wolf Pack. Game this week: vs. Utah State, 6 p.m. Saturday (ESPN3 — online).

2. Boise State (13-3, 3-1, 45 RPI): Yeah, the Broncos lost in overtime at Wyoming last Saturday, but they stay No. 2 in these rankings because — to me — they are the most complete team in the conference with the best player in senior guard Chandler Hutchison. But Boise State has a big week ahead of it to stay in this spot, or possibly surpass Nevada. Games this week: at Fresno State, 9 p.m. Tuesday (ESPNU); vs. San Diego State, 8 p.m. Saturday (ESPN2).

3. Wyoming (11-5, 2-1, 50 RPI): The Cowboys’ first three games in league play were against San Diego State, Nevada and Boise State, and they went 2-1 with both wins at home. Any team would take that. Wyoming must become more consistent across the board, and a leg injury to junior guard Justin James late in last Saturday’s game with Boise State is a concern. The Cowboys also are last in the MW in scoring defense (76.1 ppg). That has to change. Games this week: at New Mexico, 7 p.m. Wednesday (Stadium/Facebook Live); vs. Colorado State, 2 p.m. Saturday (CBS Sports Network)

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Cowboys get little respect in preseason from MW media

The Mountain West held its annual Men’s Basketball Media Summit Wednesday, which is a fancy term for media day, here in Las Vegas at the Hard Rock Casino & Hotel.

Aside from the odd name, the oddest thing to me was the predicted order of finish for Wyoming. Selected media members picked UW seventh in the 11-team league. I voted in this, and had UW 4th.

Nine returning lettermen, most of which played big roles in the Cowboys’ 23-win season and CBI championship didn’t get a lot of respect from others who cover the conference.

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Another new experience for many Cowboys as MW Men’s Basketball Tournament begins

There’s been a lot of firsts for Wyoming men’s basketball this season.

A first-year coach.

First-year players, and others with bigger roles.

Five UW players will go through another first Wednesday when the No. 7 seed Cowboys (18-13) play No. 10 Air Force (11-20) at 2:30 p.m. MT  in a first-round game. They will play in their first-ever MW Tournament game.

Justin James

Two in particular are sophomore guard Justin James and junior forward Hayden Dalton. Both were on the team last year, but were suspended prior to the tournament after being cited by Laramie police for drug use. James and Dalton are UW’s two leading scorers at 15.5 and 12.5 points per game, respectively.

“It hurt knowing I couldn’t be out there helping my team in some way. This year I’m ready to play,” James said.

Needless to say, UW needs both players to have good games Wednesday, but perhaps the biggest area is ball security. James and Dalton lead UW in turnovers. Between both, they average about five turnovers per game, and many of them are careless turnovers that can easily be avoided.

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James evolving, still growing as a player for Cowboys

Wyoming sophomore guard Justin James, at 6-foot-7, is the Cowboys’ leading scorer this season at 15.3 points per game. All of those points have been off the bench, but James is among the team leaders in minutes at 24.2 per game.

Justin James

Justin James

James often is the Cowboys’ point guard, and of all the players on the team, has the ball in his hands more often than not. A by-product of that is turnovers. His 55 are second-most on the team.

The Port St. Lucie, Florida, product is coming off back-to-back 20-point games, including a game-high 26-point effort in the Cowboys’ 83-74 road win at Air Force last Saturday. James also had a career-high seven assists in that game.

The only other time this season James had consecutive 20-point games was back in late November when he had a career-high 28 at California, and 21 at home against Denver. In those games, James had a combined three turnovers. Against Air Force and the previous game against Boise State, he had nine.

“We’ve been harping on it,” said first-year UW coach Allen Edwards on the turnovers by James this season. “The thing with Justin is he’ll continue to get better. Sometimes he tries to rely on talent, and that’s where he gets into trouble. Sometimes it may not be the ultimate respect for guy guarding him.”

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Cowboys return home for two straight games

As Wyoming enters its third week of conference play, it also starts a critical stretch.

Allen Edwards

Allen Edwards

The Cowboys (11-5 overall, 1-2 Mountain West) are coming off two road losses to UNLV and Fresno State, play their next two games at home this week. The first is at 7 p.m. Wednesday against Utah State (8-7, 2-2). The second is at 4 p.m. Saturday against Nevada (14-3, 3-1). The Cowboys are 9-0 at home this season, and are one of three teams in the MW undefeated at home. Boise State and Nevada are both 7-0.

Do you consider Wednesday’s game a must-win for UW? First-year coach Allen Edwards doesn’t.

“It’s a big game, but as a staff we’re trying to get guys to understand every game is that way,” Edwards said. “We want to protect our home floor, but we also know if we want to compete for a championship we have to take some on the road.

“However, I never try to put pressure on guys that we need this particular game. We play our game, and at the end of the day we believe our game will put us in position to win. The spirit of our guys has not changed. They’re still confident, but they also know that it doesn’t matter who you play. They  better be ready to play every night.”

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Initial thoughts of UW men’s hoops

It was nice to break out of football mode for a couple of hours Thursday night to watch the Wyoming men’s basketball team. The Cowboys easily defeated Division II Chadron State 75-50 in front of a packed house of 1,187 at Eastern Wyoming College.

After a slow start for UW, the game was never in doubt, which is what you would expect in an exhibition game.

First, here is first-year UW coach Allen Edwards after the game:

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Cowboys say they will be more focused in regular-season opener

I don’t think anyone felt good about Wyoming’s 77-69 overtime loss to Division II Fort Lewis last Saturday.

Yes, it was an exhibition game. Even though the Cowboys’ three best players — senior guard Josh Adams, junior guard Jason McManamen and sophomore forward Alan Herndon — didn’t play the last 15 minutes or so based on the decision coach Larry Shyatt made earlier in the week, there was a level of disappointment.

Talking to the players this week, they seem determined that won’t happen Friday when the Cowboys open the regular season against Bristol University out of Anaheim, California.

Alan Herndon

Alan Herndon

“Increased focus,” said Herndon on what practice has been like so far this week. “Coaches have been more on edge. We know we have to prepare a lot better. We know we have to prepare and respect every single team we play no mater what their name is.”

Added McManamen: “It was tough. You don’t want to lose any game no mater who you’re playing. We have to learn from it. It will make us hungrier for this game Friday. We’re going to be ready.”

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UW men’s basketball signs four in 2014-15 recruiting class

Here is a list of the four players the Wyoming men’s basketball team signed Wednesday:

G Austin Conway, 5-10, 165, Overland HS, Aurora, Colorado

F Justin James, 6-7, 180, Oldsmar Christian School, Port Saint Lucie, Florida

F Andrew Moemeka, 6-8, 200, Oldsmar Christian School, Lake City, Florida

F/C Jordan Naughton, 6-10, 220, Etiwanda HS, Rancho Cucamonga, California

This class addressed immediate needs from the 1-5 positions for UW, and it still has one scholarship left to give.

Here is video highlights from Conway’s junior year, who was the first to commit in this class back on July 1:


James was the last to commit in mid-September, and UW beat out Mississippi State to get him. A player Cowboys coach Larry Shyatt said can play four different positions on the floor, including point guard. Here are his junior highlights:


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