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

Hankerson Jr. shows solid improvement for Cowboys this season

In 27 games last season, Wyoming guard Charles Hankerson Jr. averaged 6.1 points per game. He made 14 of 35 of his 3-point shots, and had 35 assists compared to 30 turnovers.

Charles Hankerson Jr.

Charles Hankerson Jr.

Not a bad season for Hankerson, who was a redshirt junior in 2013-14 — his first season of playing for the Cowboys after transferring from Alabama.

After 10 games this season, Hankerson averages 8.8 points per game, which is third-best on the team. He’s nearly tripled his rebounding production at 3.8 per contest after averaging 1.3 last season.

Hankerson is second on the team with 32 assists, and his assist-to-turnover ratio is nearly at 2-to-1.

He also leads the team in 3-point shooting percentage at 48.6 percent (18 of 37). He’s already made two more 3s than all of last season. When I told him he’s made more 3s this season than all of last season, Hankerson sounded surprised.

“I just tried to work hard in the off-season,” Hankerson said. “I knew how much talent and potential this team has. I just wanted to work on improving everything about my game.”

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UW-Regis men’s basketball postgame thoughts

It was what many expected from the Wyoming men’s basketball team coming off its first loss of the season Friday at SMU.

The Cowboys hosted Division II Regis and easily won 70-35 Sunday at the Arena-Auditorium in Laramie.

UW (8-1) held Regis (2-4) to 28.6 percent shooting, and 21.6 percent from the 7:11 mark of the first half. The Cowboys wanted the starters to get a big lead so the bench guys could log some minutes, especially since the team didn’t return from SMU until mid-afternoon Saturday.

None of UW’s starters played more than 19 minutes, but they combined to go 11 of 15 from the field.

Senior center Matt Sellers sparked a 19-5 first-half run with 12 points. Sellers scored all of his points in the game during that run as UW led 38-17 at halftime. Sellers played only nine minutes.

Redshirt freshman post Alan Herndon was impressive with seven points and career-highs with seven rebounds and two blocked shots. He had a one-handed follow up dunk in the second half that was impressive.

Here is Herndon, Sellers and true freshman center Jonathan Barnes — who had a career-high eight points and scored with a short jumper and inside — after the game:

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UW-Western State postgame thoughts

It was a very Wyoming-like win Tuesday night.

The Cowboys worked through a barrage of 3-pointers by Division II Western State and got a balanced offensive attack in a 61-46 victory Tuesday night at the Arena-Auditorium to improve to 2-0.

Western State got to the free-throw line about 35 times a game in its first two contests, and that was something UW wanted to eliminate. It did, as the Mountaineers got to the line three times.

But they made 3s — 10 in all — and five came from senior wing Dominique Wright who had not made one in the previous two games.

However, UW held Western State to just seven 2-point baskets.

Here is coach Larry Shyatt after the game:

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UW-Utah State postgame thoughts

It’s a pattern that is becoming all too familiar for the Wyoming men’s basketball team.

A decent to good first half and a not-so-good second half.

The Cowboys lost their fourth consecutive game with a 65-54 loss at Utah State Wednesday night. They led 29-26 at halftime and led by as many as eight early in the second half.

But then UW couldn’t make shots and couldn’t control the glass.

Utah State outscored UW 39-25 in the second half, and outrebounded UW 47-27 for the game.

That pretty much summed this game up. Utah State coach Stew Morrill said Utah State switched its defenses up more in the second half, but it looked to me its zone defense frustrated UW the most.

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UW-Air Force postgame thoughts

This was a game I wasn’t at. Poor weather in Cheyenne kept me from getting to Laramie.

But this was a tough game for Wyoming to lose. Albeit shorthanded, the 55-53 loss to Air Force Tuesday at the Arena-Auditorium will sting for a while.

From a distance UW didn’t seem to have a lot of energy, especially in the first half. Although it didn’t look like there was a lot of energy — or people — in the A-A.

Senior guard Nathan Sobey was great: 18 points, including 14 in the second half. He scored the Cowboys’ first seven points to start the second half. Jerron Granberry scored a career-high 14 points, but was quiet in the second half and missed the front end of a one-and-one with less than two minutes to play.

Junior guard Riley Grabau and sophomore guard Josh Adams were a combined 3 of 16 from the field. UW won’t win any games the rest of the way if those two shoot like that. They also combined for six of the team’s nine turnovers (three apiece).

Shooting 9 of 17 from the free-throw line didn’t help, and that ties for the team’s worst percentage this season.

UW was outrebounded 37-29, and 29-24 on the defensive glass. The Cowboys are 1-9 when they get outrebounded in defensive boards. Even though they forced 15 turnovers the Cowboys scored just 13 points off them.

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UW-Colorado St. postgame thoughts

Wow, that game slipped away from the Wyoming men’s basketball team in a hurry.

Tied at 31 at Colorado State at halftime, the Cowboys had no answer for the Rams in the second half in an 82-67 loss in front of a loud and energetic crowd of 6,590 at Moby Arena. There were a good number of UW fans here, but they didn’t have a chance to make a lot of noise in the second half.

Colorado State shot 58.6 percent in the final 20 minutes, and made 12 of its first 17 shots. It also was 7 of 15 from 3-point range, and 5 of 9 in the second half.

UW coach Larry Shyatt and all the players I talked to after the game said UW couldn’t stop the Rams. The Cowboys also couldn’t rebound. They were outrebounded 37-21 and 13-2 on the offensive glass. Colorado State scored 36 points in the paint (18 for UW) and 12 second-chance points.

Not many highlights for UW in this one, but here are a few:

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UW-New Mexico postgame thoughts

No head coach and without one of its best guards.

Outrebounded 43-22.

That’s what Wyoming faced Wednesday night at The Pit against New Mexico. Yet, the Cowboys had a chance to win the game in regulation, but junior forward Larry Nance Jr.’s fade-away jumper in the key didn’t fall.

Not much else fell for UW in overtime in a 66-61 loss. The game was tied at 57 in regulation. The Cowboys (14-8 overall, 5-4 Mountain West) made only one basket in overtime.

Here are some video highlights from the first half. Sorry, no second half or overtime highlights because I had to re-write my story for the newspapers about six different times on a tight deadline.

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UW-New Mexico postgame thoughts

Three has not been kind to the Wyoming men’s basketball team.

For the second straight Mountain West game, UW lost by three points. This time it was 72-69 in overtime to New Mexico at the Arena-Auditorium.

First the bad news for the Cowboys:

They missed four free throws in overtime — two each by senior guard Nathan Sobey and sophomore guard Josh Adams. They also were outrebounded 14-5 on the offensive glass and outscored 12-4 in second-chance points.

But without Sobey and Adams, UW doesn’t take this game into overtime. Sobey had a season-high 16 points. He looked good driving to the basket and running the floor. Adams had 12 points, but his defense on New Mexico senior guard Kendall Williams, the reigning MW Player of the Year, was outstanding. Williams, who averages 18.8 points per game, had just 10 on 4 of 16 shooting. He also averages 5.3 assists, and had only two.

Here is some second half video highlights in regulation, including Williams’ last-second shot that doesn’t come close.

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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:
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