Border War Q&A

WyoSports senior editor Robert Gagliardi did a question-and-answer session with Matt Stephens, who covers Colorado State men’s basketball for the Fort Collins Coloradoan.

Wyoming (18-11 overall, 4-11 Mountain West) hosts Colorado State (22-7, 9-5) at 8 tonight at the Arena-Auditorium in Laramie.

Question: Air Force’s Michael Lyons, New Mexico’s Kendall Williams and Boise State’s Derrick Marks have had huge games the last couple of weeks against the Rams. Is there a big concern about Colorado State’s perimeter defense, or do you chalk it up to three very good players having very good games?

Answer: I only get concerned when CSU is playing on a Saturday. The Rams held all UNLV and Fresno State players to less than 20 the past two Wednesday, so there must be some voodoo going on.

But really, I don’t see what CSU is missing in terms of on-ball defense. Williams and Lyons each had a hand in their faces on most shots, but they were allowed to catch the ball. The Rams have really focused on “no catch” defense the last week or so, and against Fresno State it worked, as they denied Kevin Olekaibe the ball in the second half to shut him down.

It is hard to really figure out what else CSU can do. Even Larry Shyatt noted it Monday that opponents were just having big games. No rhyme or reason.

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UW-Colorado State Q&A

WyoSports senior editor Robert Gagliardi did a question-and-answer session with Matt Stephens, who covers Colorado State men’s basketball for the Fort Collins Coloradoan in Fort Collins. Wyoming plays at Colorado State at 5 p.m. today at Moby Arena.

Look for Q&As with beat writers of Wyoming’s conference foes throughout the rest of the season.

Question: What are the biggest differences or changes with the team this season with first-year coach Larry Eustachy compared to how things were with former coach Tim Miles?

Answer: Defense, defense, defense. When Miles arrived in 2007, he also wanted to build CSU as a defensive power, but he quickly realized that there wasn’t really anyone on the team who could shoot the ball that season outside of Marcus Walker. Instead, CSU had to find ways to score points and as the years went on and Miles recruited better talents to Fort Collins, coaching shooters paid off.

Eustachy is all about defense and rebounding. Call it luck of the draw if you will, but having five seniors as his starters made this easier. We all knew the scoring ability of guys like Wes Eikmeier and Dorian Green, but this year we’re seeing them as more complete players. Look at Colton Iverson and Pierce Hornung. Both of them do most of their work inside on both ends, but almost never get in foul trouble because they’ve been coached defensive positioning.

No team has out-rebounded the Rams all season.

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Thoughts on All-MW men’s hoops team

Here is the link to the All-Mountain West men’s basketball team and other honorees:

I was fortunate to vote on this, and I had four of the five players on both the first and second teams, including UW junior forward Leonard Washington. He’s UW’s highest All-MW pick since senior guard Brandon Ewing made the first team in 2008-09.

I didn’t vote for senior point guard JayDee Luster as the Defensive Player of the Year, but it was well-deserved. When coach Larry Shyatt says he’s the best defender he’s coached in his 40 years on the job, that really says something.

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Kelly Lyell of the Fort Collins Coloradoan answered five questions I gave him on Saturday’s Wyoming-Colorado State men’s basketball game.

Let me know what you think.

What’s been Colorado State’s biggest hang-up on the road this season? Maintaining the kind of defensive focus and intensity that the Rams play with at home, particularly as fatigue sets in as games wind down. CSU has a short bench this year, because coach Tim Miles committed scholarships to two transfers who have to sit out under NCAA rules – Colton Iverson (Minnesota) and Daniel Bejarano (Arizona). The Rams are basically playing an eight-man rotation when everyone’s healthy and have had as few as six of those players available in some conference road games.

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UW-CSU postgame thoughts

I’ve been covering Wyoming men’s basketball for about 15 years and have been to games the last 20. It’s been at least seven years since I heard the Arena-Auditorium that loud (at least at times) in UW’s 70-51 win over Colorado State.

Attendance was 7,901. Thought there might be more, but it was a great atmosphere.

Speaking of great, how about Leonard Washington?

32 points, 14 rebounds, two steals and one blocked shot. Many of us media folks thought he might have got short changed on some blocks and steals.

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I asked Colorado State men’s basketball beat writer Kelly Lyell five questions about Saturday’s game with Wyoming.

Colorado State seems to be able to score in a lot of different ways, but in your opinion what are their strengths offensively? CSU’s offensive strengths are its shooting accuracy, particularly from 3-point range, its ability to get to the free-throw line and the offensive balance. All eight players in the Rams’ regular rotation average 5.9 or more points a game, and four of the eight have led the team in scoring in various games this season. When leading scorer Wes Eikmeier has an off night, others have picked up the slack without there being any obvious drop-off in the offensive production.

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