UW at New Mexico men’s hoops: 3 keys, notes, quotes and video

My three keys for Wyoming’s regular-season finale today at New Mexico. Tipoff is at 6 p.m. MT at WisePies Arena, aka, the Pit in Albuquerque.

Hugh Greenwood

Hugh Greenwood

1. Defend Greenwood: New Mexico senior guard Hugh Greenwood leads the Mountain West with 66 made 3-pointers, and he made five in UW’s 63-62 overtime win in Laramie in January. Perimeter defense has been an issue for the Cowboys, but they were better in Wednesday’s 76-53 win over Utah State as the Aggies shot just 6 of 18 from behind the arc. No one else on the Lobos roster that will play today has made more than 16 3s. UW needs to defend well against everyone on the perimeter, but especially on Greenwood.

“We can’t let New Mexico’s crowd and emotion take over because that will be tough to overcome,” senior forward Larry Nance Jr. said.

If Greenwood gets hot — or any of New Mexico’s players — that can easily happen.

Charles Hankerson Jr.

Charles Hankerson Jr.

2. Lobos have some size: New Mexico’s starting lineup will go 6-foot-3, 6-4, 6-5, 6-7 and 7-1. It also will bring a 6-10 center off the bench. Bigger teams, especially in the backcourt has given UW fits this season. UW  needs defend 6-5 senior guard Deshawn Delaney well. He leads the team with 12.1 points per game. Look for senior guard Charles Hankerson Jr. and redshirt sophomore Jason McManamen to see a lot of time on Delaney when UW plays man-to-man defense. The Cowboys will need to do a good job of getting out in transition and attacking the basket when they can, and also moving the ball around well in their half-court offense. And obviously, UW will have to hold its own on the boards and not allow a lot of second and third-chance opportunities from the Lobos.

One player that has played better for New Mexico inside is 7-1 sophomore center Obij Aget, who over his last four games has averaged 10.3 points, 8.5 rebounds, 2.5 blocked shots and has shot 50 percent from the field.

Here is my video preview of the game:


Continue reading

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:



Continue reading

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:


Continue reading

3 takes on UW’s 67-59 loss to UNLV; with VIDEO

My three takes from Wyoming’s 69-57 loss at UNLV Saturday night:

1. Getting away from what got them here: UW won 21 games by playing good defense, but the first thing coach Larry Shyatt said after the game was that the Cowboys focused more on scoring than getting stops against the Rebels. UNLV was 11 of 19 from 3-point range — 6 of 10 in the second half. Some of those shots were contested, but too many were not. Shyatt didn’t have many answers for why, but UW better figure it out or it could lose its final two games of the regular season this week — home for Utah State Wednesday and at New Mexico Saturday.

Here is Shyatt after the game:


2. Early turnovers: The Cowboys committed nine turnovers in the first half, and looked a lot like it did in its 64-59 home loss to Fresno State on Wednesday. There were some sloppy passes, some good defense by UNLV, but too many unforced errors by the Cowboys. To their credit, they had only three turnovers in the second half. However, UNLV scored 15 points off UW’s turnovers. The Cowboys are not good enough to give anyone in this league that many extra possessions and points.

Continue reading

UW-UNLV men’s basketball: 3 keys, notes, quotes and video

My three keys for the Wyoming men’s basketball team in its game at UNLV, which starts at 6 p.m. today at the Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas.

Larry Shyatt

Larry Shyatt

1. Pick and choose: Meaning when UW wants to get into transition and drive to the basket, or even when it drives to the basket in its half-court offense, the Cowboys must be smart as UNLV is fourth in the nation with 6.9 blocked shots per game. “Those are turnovers. They block a shot that goes in bounds, that’s no different than  a dropped ball,” UW coach Larry Shyatt said. “You have to pick and choose when you attack the rack and look for inside out drop-offs. They really have a presence in the paint.”

That presence includes 6-foot-11 sophomore Christian Wood (2.9 bpg) and 6-10 freshman Goodluck Okonoboh (2.8 bpg). Okonoboh is the Mountain West record holder for blocked shots by a freshman with 74.

Here is my video preview of the game:


Continue reading

UW-UNLV men’s basketball Q&A

WyoSports senior editor Robert Gagliardi did a question-and-answer session with Matt Youmans, who covers UNLV men’s basketball for the Las Vegas Review-Journal, on Saturday’s game with the University of Wyoming.

Tipoff is at 6 p.m. MT at the Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas.

Follow on Twitter: @mattyoumans247

Matt Youmans

Matt Youmans

In your wildest imagination did you ever see the season go as it has for UNLV at 15-13 and 6-9 in the league?

In my wild imagination, if the season turned into a debacle for the Rebels, they could finish fifth in the conference. It appeared to be a team too talented to slip below fifth in a mediocre conference. I always was high on San Diego State, Colorado State and Wyoming, so I had UNLV finishing third or fourth. The Rebels’ upset of Arizona in December fooled some of us who were impressed with this team’s talent and potential. But that said and all excuses aside, to finish seventh or eighth is just ridiculous.

 

Injuries have played a factor in the struggles, but what else has led to the team’s shortcomings this season?

The Rebels were starting to put things together before the Rashad Vaughn injury. Still, that’s an excuse, too, because they lost six of seven games from Dec. 31 to Jan. 21 with Vaughn in the lineup. UNLV has come up short in most close games, and part of that is young players failing to execute and learning how to win, and part of that is the coaches not making the right moves. For a variety of reasons, it’s not a good defensive team. You always can find a few stats that say the defense is solid. But a good defensive team does not allow 51 points in the second half to Air Force or 48 points in the second half to Utah State, etc. A consistently good offensive team does not score 48 points in a home loss to Boise State. This team never has developed a real identity, and that’s a big problem.

Continue reading

3 takes from Wyoming’s 64-59 loss to Fresno State

Here are my three takes from Wyoming’s 64-59 home loss to Fresno State Wednesday night at the Arena-Auditorium in Laramie.

1. The better team — on this night — won: As UW coach Larry Shyatt said — along with the players — Fresno State beat the Cowboys based on the fact UW had 14 turnovers (compared to 13 in its previous two games), was outrebounded 12-6 on the offensive glass and made only 8 of 13 free throws in the second half. That pretty much sums it up. Fresno State, one of the top teams in the nation in steals, had eight in the game. It turned 14 turnovers into 17 points, and those 12 offensive rebounds into 15 points. I also thought what Shyatt said was accurate about how this game was a lot like several others UW played this season — especially in conference play. Close late in the game, but more often than not, UW made the plays down the stretch to win. In this game, it didn’t.

Here is Shyatt after the game:


Continue reading

UW-Fresno State men’s basketball: 3 keys, notes, quotes and video

My three keys for Wyoming’s home game with Fresno State, which tips off at 7:35 p.m. MT tonight at the Arena-Auditorium in Laramie and will be televised on CBS Sports Network:

Larry Nance Jr.

Larry Nance Jr.

1. Keep attacking and playing smart: In the last two games where UW has pushed the tempo more offensively and attacked the basket, it’s averaged 70.5 points per game with 33 assists and only 13 turnovers. Even with the probable return of senior forward Larry Nance Jr., the Cowboys need to continue to utilize this style — when it’s there — and take care of the ball. In the 70-65 triple overtime win over Fresno State last month UW committed 17 turnovers — way too many.

2. Limit the 3s: Fresno State attempted 34 3-pointers against UW last month, and fortunately for the Cowboys, made only seven. Coach Larry Shyatt said UW was fortunate that the Bulldogs didn’t make more of them. The Cowboys’ defense played a factor in several of those missed shots, but they will need to do a good job of getting out on shooters and not allowing them to get hot from the outside.

Here is my video preview of tonight’s game:


Continue reading

UW-Fresno State men’s basketball Q&A

WyoSports senior editor Robert Gagliardi did a question-and-answer session with Robert Kuwada, who covers Fresno State men’s basketball for the Fresno Bee, about Wednesday’s game with the University of Wyoming.

Tipoff is at 7:35 p.m. MT at the Arena-Auditorium in Laramie, and the game will be televised by CBS Sports Network.

Follow on Twitter: @rkuwada

Since Wyoming’s crazy 70-65 triple overtime in at Fresno State on Jan. 17 the Bulldogs have lost five of their last eight games. Where have the struggles been with this team in your opinion?

Part of that is just some tough matchups on the road. Since then, Fresno State has played at San Diego State, at Colorado State and at UNLV. But over the past three games, which includes a home victory over Boise State and a home loss against the Rams, the defense

Robert Kuwada

Robert Kuwada

has been inconsistent. They beat Boise State by doing a great job against Derrick Marks down the final eight minutes of that game. You look at the box and see 31 points and think, “Big game,” and it was. But Marks made only one basket over the final 8:38, which came with 22 seconds remaining, and he got to the free throw line twice in that stretch. They had Boise a little lost without him – it hit only one of its last seven shots and scored only 22 points in the second half. Boise State was on an eight-game winning streak at the time, in which it had scored an average of 39.6 points in the second half. So, they have that kind of defensive effort in them. But they had a tough time against Colorado State and got sliced up a bit at Utah State. The Aggies beat them off the dribble, beat them off ball screens and took advantage of just about every open look they got at the 3-point line, and there were a lot of them. Utah State had 20 assists on 29 baskets and knocked down 10 3-pointers.

Continue reading

UW-Nevada men’s basketball: 3 takes, notes, quotes and video

My three takes from Wyoming’s 64-58 win at Nevada Tuesday night at the Lawlor Events Center in Reno, Nevada.

1. Tale of two halves: Simply put, UW was awful in the first half and awful good in the second. The Cowboys were 6 of 23 from the field in the first half, and even missed all five

Larry Shyatt

Larry Shyatt

of its free throws — all by guards. The Cowboys were trying to drive to the basket, but Nevada did a good job of blocking shots and stopping that. UW had open outside shots, but it couldn’t hit them. But in the second half, after the Cowboys hit a few outside shots, they looked like the team that ran the floor in transition against San Jose State last Saturday in Laramie. The Cowboys shot 61.5 percent in the second half (16 of 25) and made 5 of 8 3-pointers. “I credit our assistant coaches for grinding, and I credit our players because to me this was one of the most incredible I’ve ever been part of on the road,” coach Larry Shyatt said.

Here are some of the late second half highlights as UW took the lead with 4:25 to play after a 3-pointer by redshirt sophomore guard Jason McManamen, and never gave it back up.

Continue reading