The Wyoming Cowboys took to the road for the first time in the non-conference season and defeated the Oregon State Beavers 75 to 66 to move their record to 2-0. Here are some random thoughts on last night’s win over the Pac-12 school:
James, Dalton and Herndon
This was the Justin James we’ve come to love and expect for the Cowboys, he had 19 points, 3 rebounds, 2 assists, 1 block and 1 steal. on the night . After a rocky performance against Chattanooga in the season opener James got back to his old tricks against Oregon State. He started off slow (5 turnovers in the game most coming early) but seemed to get more an more comfortable playing on his recovering sprained ankle, and he finished the game like a true closer. Time after time in the last 8 minutes James attacked the rim and either scored or got to the free throw line. In the post game press conference Oregon State head coach Wayne Tinkle said James “Went beast mode on us.”
Alan Herndon earned player of the game honors which were selected by the Pac 12 announce crew who announced the game, and he was well worthy of the honor. As Larry Shyatt would say “Herndon had a yeoman’s effort” against the Beavers. He wasn’t flashy and unlike James or Dalton, Herndon was consistent throughout the entire game. Herndon played Robin to Dalton’s Batman in the first half, and in the second half when James dawned the mask and became the Caped Crusader, Herndon was there again to play sidekick. Overall for the night Herndon had 16pts/6reb/6blk/2asst/1stl and was 4-8 from the three point line. Herndon still has a tendency to get bullied in the post by true centers like Drew Eubanks of Oregon State from time to time, but he wins far more than he loses now. Speaking of Eubanks. Did he remind anyone else of Cowboy legend Eric Leckner? He’s not as good but has the same style and physique.
For the second consecutive game Hayden Dalton started off with both guns blazing. Dalton had 16 of his 22 points in the fist half. After the season opening game in which he hit 5 three’s in the first half, he followed that up by hitting 4 three’s in the first half against Oregon State. I have a feeling we could see this pattern continue throughout the season, Dalton sets them up in the and James knocks them out.
Wyoming may just have a big 3 on the their hands with James/Dalton/Herndon! But what makes this seasons potential more exciting is that unlike years in the past where Wyoming had a big 2 or big 3, this team might actually have quality role players and depth to help the stars.
Cody Kelley has put together back to back solid performances to start the season and continues to silence his critics (me) for the time being. He didn’t look to score the basketball, but he did do all those little things that can make a point guard the true life force of a winning team. He had 5asst/1to/4reb/ to go along with his tough in your face defense. One of the main reasons our defense seems to be vastly superior to last years teams is the improved play of the point guards. Both Redding and Kelley really dig in defensively and aren’t allowing opposing guards to get a ton of penetration, unlike what Lieberman and a less experienced Kelley allowed last year.
Maldonado Off To Good Start
I’m not sure the plan was for Hunter Maldonado to play this much this early in his Wyoming career. But one thing is for certain, moving forward Maldonado is going to play a vital role this year for the Cowboys. Much like against Chattanooga in the season opener, nothing in the box score for Maldonado jumps out at you. He only had 6pts/4reb/2asst/2stl, but he plays with an uncommon composer for a true Freshman and I believe he has the potential to be one of the all timers at UW.
As impressive as this win was, it becomes even more impressive when you take into account that we were playing with less than a full sqaud. Wyoming was missing a likely starter Gorski and at least one if not two key role players in Moemeka/Mack. When was the last time any Wyoming team that was missing significant players went on the road and won? Much less to win against a Pac 12 team.
Keys For Future Success
In my eyes here are the keys for Wyoming to be successful in any given game this season. If we can do a majority of the following things, I like our chances to win that particular game.
•Limit turnovers to around 10
•Shoot 35% or higher from 3pt line
•Be within 5 of the rebounding battle
•Hold the opponent to 45% or less from the field
Against Oregon State Wyoming was 3/4. We had 16 turnovers 👎/shot 45% from 3pt 👍/won the rebounding battle by 2 👍/held Oregon State to 40.7% from the field 👍.
Against Chattanooga in the season opener Wyoming was also 3/4. We had 15 turnovers 👎/shot 47.6% from 3pt 👍/lost the rebounding battle by 2 👍/held Chattanooga to 41.7% from the field 👍.
Obviously this is cherry picking stats and the game of basketball will never be this black and white. But with our style of play and the make up of our team I believe this to be the baseline for our success. I could be way off base but either way I’ll be interested to see out it plays out.