UW vs. Fresno State men’s hoops Q&A

Here is my 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.

Robert Kuwada

Robert Kuwada

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

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What is the health status of the Bulldogs heading into this game as they were without four frontcourt players in their last game at Nevada?

Fresno State will go into the game short, but could have at least one player back. Forward Torren Jones has been ruled out and forward Karachi Edo and center Terrell Carter II are doubtful. Forward Paul Watson (calf) could be back, but coach Rodney Terry said they are not going to push and risk further injury. Watson would be a critical piece against the Cowboys – he defended Josh Adams most of the second half in that first matchup down here and he was 3 of 12 over those 18 or so minutes.

Fresno State’s win over first-place San Diego State last week showed how good the Bulldogs are, but aside from the recent rash of injuries and illnesses, what has led to some of the inconsistent play with this group? 

That’s a very good question. It’s a bit weird for an older team with guys like Marvelle Harris, Cezar Guerrero and Julien Lewis that have played a lot of college basketball, but the consistency of effort hasn’t always been there. I think the loss at San Jose State with a chance to win a third conference game in a row was a tipping point, though, because they have been a lot more competitive since even while missing some key pieces. The Bulldogs beat UNLV without Jones, who had 18 points and eight rebounds in the first meeting. They beat San Diego State without Jones and Edo and with Watson going down early in the second half. They came from 13 down in the second half to force overtime before losing at Nevada, losing Carter that morning. They’re just are competing much better now than they did early in the year.

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UW at Fresno State men’s basketball Q&A

Here is my question-and-answer session with Robert Kuwada, who covers Fresno State men’s basketball for the Fresno Bee, about Tuesday’s game with the University of Wyoming.

Tip off is at 8 p.m. MT at the Save Mart Center in Fresno, California.

Follow on Twitter:[email protected]

How would you assess the Bulldogs’ season so far at 13-7 overall and 4-3 in the Mountain West? Is the team where you thought it would be at this point in the season?

Robert Kuwada

Robert Kuwada

For a team with three seniors in Marvelle Harris, Cezar Guerrero and Julien Lewis and a couple of others that have played a lot of basketball in the Mountain West, the Bulldogs have been pretty inconsistent. Fresno State has not won back-to-back games against Division I opponents since Dec. 12 and 16 against Pacific and Bakersfield (263 and 167 RPI), and in conference play have followed up every win with a loss. We’ll see what happens against Wyoming, coming off a win at Air Force. They haven’t won more than two in a row since starting 5-0. The ability to get on a run is there, though. This is by far the best team coach Rodney Terry has had at Fresno State, which was a sizable rebuild job when he got there. This could be the Bulldogs’s best chance to go on a run with Wyoming at home, followed by a game at San Jose State before playing at home against UNLV (they beat the Rebels at Thomas & Mack) and San Diego State (they took the Aztecs to overtime at Viejas).

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Coaches weigh in about keeping MW Tournament at Thomas & Mack Center

Wyoming men’s basketball coach Larry Shyatt spoke for a little more than 20 minutes Monday on behalf of the other 10 Mountain West men’s hoops coaches about the league’s decision to change the format of the MW Tournament to eight teams for both the men’s and women’s events starting in 2017.

Larry Shyatt

Larry Shyatt

In the past, and for the 2016 event, all teams were allowed to participate.

Here’s is Shyatt’s full statement from Monday. Quick hint, he didn’t hold anything back and needless to say, he wasn’t happy.

http://www.wyosports.net/shyatt-issues-statement-on-behalf-of-mw-hoops-coaches-on/article_642f6f4a-ad82-11e5-b81b-9bd0b26a88d4.html

The MW decision, which was released on Dec. 18, also included keeping the MW Tournament at the Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas — the home court for UNLV — through 2019.

UNLV has won three MW Tournament titles there, with the last one coming in 2008. The MW gets a good deal in terms of “rent” for the facility, which was the driving force to keeping it there.

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UW-Fresno State postgame thoughts

When does a victory feel like a loss?

When you are the Wyoming men’s basketball team and your best player — junior forward Larry Nance Jr. — goes down with 14:51 to play with a knee injury that in all probability will end his season.

That’s what happened against Fresno State. The Cowboys won 72-66, which was impressive and should be appreciated as they won their third straight and improved to 17-9 overall and 8-5 in the Mountain West.

“It don’t think it looks good,” said UW coach Larry Shyatt, who added Nance will have an MRI Wednesday morning.

Nance was dominant before going out. He had 17 points — 15 in the first half — on 7 of 9 shooting. He didn’t put any weight on the knee as he was helped off the floor. He stayed either behind or on UW’s bench until the end of the game with a towel over his head.

Fans chanted “Larry, Larry” after the game as he was helped off the court by trainer Lance Schuemann and senior guard Nathan Sobey.

It was on the same end of the court where some other prominent UW players have injured their knees — Cheyenne’s Marcus Bailey in the early 2000s, Queint Higgins in the early 1990s and Mike Jackson in the early 1980s.

That A-A renovation, which includes a rotation of the court, can’t come soon enough.

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UW-Fresno State postgame thoughts

Call it lucky, call it ugly … call it what you want.

Wyoming found a way to beat Fresno State 55-51 in overtime Saturday in Laramie.

Still not quite sure how. The Cowboys missed 16 free throws, were 2-of-11 from 3-point range and were outrebounded 42-31, including 17-4 on the offensive glass. Fresno State also attempted 23 more shots than UW.

First place to look is on defense as UW held Fresno State to 8-of-36 shooting in the second half and overtime.

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