UW vs. Nevada basketball Q&A

Here is my question-and-answer session with Chris Murray, who covers Nevada men’s basketball for the Reno Gazette-Journal, about Wednesday’s game with Wyoming.

Tip off is at 7 p.m. MT at the Arena-Auditorium in Laramie.

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It will have been 18 days since the last time Wyoming played Nevada — a 71-68 Nevada win in Reno. Has anything changed a lot with he Wolf Pack since that first game?

Chris Murray

Chris Murray

Well, Nevada still can’t shoot. The team ranked 350th out of 351 teams last year in 3-point shooting against Division-I opponents and sits at 339th in the nation this year. Nevada made 5-of-11 3-pointers against Wyoming in the first matchup, one of its best shooting efforts of the season. But this team struggles to score and its defense and rebounding has slipped since it lost AJ West, who also missed the first game. It’s basically the same Nevada team that is reliant on creating turnovers, scoring in transition and playing with pace. Nevada had a good offensive night in its win over Wyoming earlier this month and will need a repeat of that Wednesday to score the sweep.

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MW men’s basketball power rankings

Here are my Mountain West men’s basketball power rankings this week, and there are some changes near the top.

RPI rankings are from RealTimeRPI.com. Only two MW teams have RPIs in the top 100, and eight are ranked between 121-193. As a league, the MW still has a RPI of 11 out of 32 conferences.

As always, your feedback is welcome and encouraged.

1. San Diego State (12-6 overall, 5-0 MW, 68 RPI): The Aztecs are the only undefeated team in league play after an impressive 56-53 road win at Boise State last Saturday. San Diego State has won seven straight conference road games going back to last season. It is showing why it was picked as the preseason favorite to win the MW.

2. Boise State (13-5, 4-1, 52 RPI): The loss to San Diego State snapped a 17-game home winning streak, and the Broncos were just 1 of 17 from 3-point range. Look for this team to bounce back, but for now, it drops from the top spot in these power rankings.

3. Utah State (10-7, 3-3, 129 RPI): After starting 0-3 in league play, the Aggies responded with two wins last week at home against Air Force and at Colorado State. Senior guard Chris Smith, the MW Player of the Week, averaged 27 points and nine rebounds in the two victories. Stiffer tests await this week with a home game with UNLV and a road game at San Diego State.

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MW men’s basketball power rankings

We enter the third week of conference play, and while there wasn’t a lot of movement among the top teams in my power rankings, there was some among other teams.

RPI rankings are from RealTimeRPI.com, and nine of the 11 MW teams have RPIs of between 100 and 181. As a league, the MW has an RPI of 11 out of 32 conferences.

As always, your feedback is welcome and encouraged.

1. Boise State (12-4 overall, 3-0 MW, 49 RPI): The Broncos remain the top dog in the conference. They’ve won nine in a row. Junior forward James Webb III has won back-to-back MW Player of the Week honors, and three this season. Boise State made nearly a 30-point rise in the RPI from last week.

2. San Diego State (10-6, 3-0, 100 RPI): We will see this week if the Aztecs are worthy of being ranked this high with road games at Colorado State and Boise State.

3. New Mexico (10-6, 3-0, 116 RPI): A four-game losing streak prior to league play seems a distant memory after winning three straight to open league play. The defense has improved, which has led to better offense.

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MW men’s basketball power rankings

One week into conference play, and the Mountain West is just as baffling as the nonconference portion of the schedule was.

A decent amount of movement this week, and I would expect more in the coming weeks. But here is how I think the MW ranks this week.

RPI rankings are from RealTimeRPI.com. Nothing really stands out as far as the RPI goes, but it does indicate that from top to bottom, the MW is a solid league. Its RPI of 11 out of 32 conferences isn’t all that great, and it looks like the MW could be a one-bid league to the NCAA Tournament as of now.

Call it mediocre or poor, but this league isn’t as bad as many national people think.

I still think the league will get at least two teams to the NCAAs, and possibly three if all works out well.

As always, your feedback is welcome.

1. Boise State (10-4 overall, 1-0 MW, 70 RPI): The Broncos have the longest winning streak in the league at seven, and may have the Player of the Year in the MW in junior forward James Webb III. A tricky game awaits at Utah State Tuesday.

2. San Diego State (9-6, 2-0, 81 RPI): The Aztecs played like the Aztecs last week in a home win over Wyoming and an impressive road win at Utah State last week. The offense is still an issue, but the defense is not.

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Wyoming 28, Nevada 21: Postgame thoughts, notes and video

Simply put, it was nice to see some smiles instead of frowns from Wyoming players and coaches after the Cowboys picked up their first win of the season.

It wasn’t perfect, but there were some pretty impressive efforts in the game. The last coming by the defense as it forced stop late in the game as Nevada was trying to drive for a game-tying touchdown.

Here are highlights from that drive:

This was UW’s most complete game of the season. The offense was balanced as it ran for 272 yards and threw for 213. The Cowboys didn’t turn the ball over, and didn’t allow a quarterback sack for the first time this season. It went three-and-out on only two of nine drives (I’m not including the drive at the end when UW took a knee to run out the clock). I thought the play-calling got a little conservative during that time.

And, redshirt senior quarterback Cameron Coffman was nearly perfect at 18 of 20 for 213 yards and three touchdowns.

The defense didn’t allow a play longer than 29 yards. Prior to this game, it had allowed 12 plays of 30 yards or more for touchdowns, and close to 20 plays that long overall.

Here’s a link to my Sunday column for more on this:

http://www.wyosports.net/gagliardi-column-cowboys-can-finally-celebrate/article_266ae800-74ee-11e5-88f8-0f419319569b.html

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Wyoming vs. Nevada football live chat replay

Here’s the replay of my live chat from the University of Wyoming’s 28-21 homecoming win over Nevada Saturday at Jonah Field at War Memorial Stadium.

UW improved to 1-6 overall and 1-2 in the Mountain West. It snapped a six-game home losing streak and nine-game slide overall going back to last season.

For more on this game and other UW and prep sports coverage, see the Wyoming Tribune Eagle and Laramie Boomerang and log on to wyosports.net.

Live Blog Wyoming vs. Nevada football live game chat

Wyoming vs. Nevada football preview: Notes, quotes and video

First, my No. 1 key for Wyoming for its homecoming game Saturday against Nevada:

Eliminating turnovers: You can say that about any game, but Wyoming can’t have four turnovers like it did in last week’s 31-17 loss at Air Force and expect to win. Air Force scored 21 points off those miscues. Turnovers by anyone are costly, but the Cowboys can’t have their best offensive players doing it, i.e. sophomore running back Brian Hill and redshirt senior quarterback Cameron Coffman. Both had two turnovers against Air Force. UW had a season-high four turnovers that led to 21 Air Force points.

I get into this and other keys in my video preview of the game:

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UW sports live chat replay

Here’s the replay of my weekly live chat on University of Wyoming sports on Thursday, Oct. 15.

Lots of good basketball talk as MW men’s basketball media day was held Tuesday and Wednesday in Las Vegas, and I was there. There also was plenty of UW football talk as the Cowboys (0-6, 0-2) will try to get into the win column for the first time this season when it hosts Nevada (3-3, 1-0) Saturday for homecoming.

For more UW and high school sports coverage, see the Wyoming Tribune Eagle and Laramie Boomerang and log on to wyosports.net.

Live Blog University of Wyoming sports live chat

Media Monday: UW football notes

I had to call into Wyoming football coach Craig Bohl’s weekly news conference Monday because I have to catch a flight to Las Vegas for Mountain West men’s basketball media day activities that start Tuesday and run through Wednesday. Look for more on that as the week goes on.

Here are a few notes and highlights from Bohl’s news conference:

Lucas Wacha

Lucas Wacha

— Junior linebacker Lucas Wacha, senior defensive end Siaosi Hala’api’api and sophomore cornerback Robert Priester — all starters — continue to be evaluated for concussions suffered in the 31-17 loss at Air Force last Saturday. Bohl said Hala’api’api and Priester are further along than Wacha. All three were listed as starters on UW’s depth chart, but that doesn’t mean any of them will play Saturday at home against Nevada.

— UW is getting dangerously thin at linebacker. Along with Wacha in the middle, junior Devin McKenna injured a knee during the team’s walk-through practice Friday. The only guy left there is junior Eric Nzeocha. Junior weak-side linebacker Will Tutein injured an ankle early against Air Force and didn’t return. His status is unknown. The Cowboys may have only five linebackers available for the Nevada game: Nzeocha, junior D.J. May, true freshmen Christian Irving and Luis Bach and sophomore Tim Kamana.

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Mountain West football media day – West Division notes

Here are some news and notes from Tuesday’s first day of Mountain West football media day activities here in Las Vegas. Tuesday featured teams from the West Division. Players and coaches from the Mountain Division get their turn Wednesday.

–Nevada coach Brian Polian isn’t one to hold back his opinions, and he wasn’t happy that this season’s rivalry game with UNLV is not at the end of the season,

Brian Polian

Brian Polian

like many rivalry games are around the nation, or during the weekend of Nevada Day, which celebrates when Nevada became a state back in 1864. Nevada Day is Friday, Oct. 30 this year.

This year’s game is Oct. 3 at UNLV.

This reminds me of the Border War with Wyoming and Colorado State. There was a decent stretch when that game was played at the end of the season with other rivalry games. However, that usually came during the weekend of Thanksgiving, and attendance in Laramie or Fort Collins were poor with students not around, and usually one of the two teams not being very good.

I’ve written in the past that the Border War should be played more toward the middle of the season. The weather is better and there is more fan interest. Attendance figures at both schools back that up. Not sure what to say about the Nevada-UNLV game, but one thing is certain, Polian doesn’t like the set up this year.

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