Editors note: We are in the midst of football season but the Wyoming Cowboys men’s basketball team tipped off their season last Friday with a 75-65 exhibition win over Regis University. We are happy to introduce to you Mark Overman a new writer on WyoNation who will be writing about Wyoming Basketball this season.
James (ankle)/Adams (academics)/Mack (concussion) were all inactive for the exhibition game. Edwards said after the game that James and Adams should be available for the opening game against Chattanooga Nov. 10. I’m unclear and a little concerned about the status of Mack (unlike everyone else even Hunter Thompson, Mack wasn’t sitting on the bench with the team). He was also a non-participant for the practice in Casper about a month ago because of a concussion. Hopefully, they’re just being cautious and bringing him along slowly, because I believe he could definitely help the team this year.
Starting Line-up Thoughts
The starting lineup was Redding/Gorski/Maldonado/Dalton/Herndon. It wouldn’t surprise me if this is the same starting lineup we see to begin the year with James replacing Maldonado. I was pleasantly surprised to see Maldonado so far up in the rotation to start the year. I’m sure a lot of this was due to James, Adams, and to a lesser extent Mack all being out. Maybe I’m just surprised because I’m still used to Shyatt and his aversion to playing Freshman.
Point Guard Rotation
I was happy to see Redding already ahead of Kelley in the rotation. Redding is clearly the more talented player. If I had to guess I would say that with Redding on the court and running the point we outscored Regis by at least 20pts. Adversely I would say with Kelley running the point Regis outscored the Cowboys by about 10pts.
Redding really impressed me. I think he will be a HUGE improvement from Lieberman and Kelley. Not only on offense but on defense as well. He seems to be a tenacious defender with legit D1 athleticism. Against Regis he finished with 14pts (10-10 from the line)/5asst/2to (1 was clearly not his fault).
While Redding flourished, Kelley floundered. Kelley had a few assist but had about 5 or 6 turnovers. He was clearly trying to force things instead of letting the game come to him. Maybe he realizes he is waaaay behind Redding and trying to play over his head. Kelley had a rough night and I believe him to be a limited player but in the past every time I’ve counted him out he has rebounded with solid performances. So I won’t give up hope for him yet, but right now I see him on the outside looking in as far as the rotation.
Maldonado shined in his Cowboy debut. He scored 12pts with a combination of slashing/floaters/3pt shooting/ but that wasn’t what was most impressive about his game. The most impressive thing was his overall demeanor, and that the game just didn’t seem too big for him mentally or athletically. I thought he also played excellent defense.
I know it was just against a D2 team but it looks like our defense might be vastly improved from last season. A big part of that was the additions of Redding and Maldonado to the starting lineup. Regis didn’t get many quality looks the entire first half. The defense wasn’t quite as good in the second half but that was with more backups in the game.
Budda Jones is more athletic and a better ball handler than I initially thought. He didn’t have a particularly good game. He was 0-4 from the field and he had a few silly turnovers. But I can definitely see the combination of size/skill/athleticism that made him a 4star recruit. I also found it interesting that during warm-ups he was in the group of wings and not bigs. This may have just been to the absence of James/Adams/Mack though.
Gorski Break Through?
Hopefully, this is the Gorski we see all year. He scored 20pts and was 4-7 from the 3pt line. But more realistically he will be the same streaky shooter he has been the previous three years. Although it wouldn’t shock me if he was more consistent this year. He seems to be in the best shape of his UW career and as a Senior he should be more comfortable playing at this level. If somehow he could have a season like McManamen had two years ago, this team could be scary! But if he proves to be the streaky shooter he has always been then Edwards need to base his minutes accordingly. Some nights that would lead to 30 plus minutes and other nights it would mean closer to 15 minutes.
Turnovers still appear to be a major concern for this team. As fast as Edwards wants to play Wyoming will always have a high number of turnovers. But having 23 turnovers to only 14 assists against a D2 school just isn’t going to cut it. Unfortunately, a lot of our turnovers come from guys who shouldn’t be turning the ball over at a high rate. Ball handlers (Kelley) or upperclassman (Dalton/Gorski). It’s only one game, and an exhibition game at that without our best player (James) and lineups were not likely to see in the regular season, so I’ll give them a pass for now.
Moemeka On The Rise?
Moemeka has clearly passed Naughton on the depth chart. Naughton just doesn’t fit the style of play Edwards prefers, which is unfortunate because I thought he had the potential to be a dominating center in the Mountain West. While Moemeka is a Derek Cooke Jr. type player with more basketball instinct. He always seems to get his hand on the ball for rebounds/blocks/steals/putbacks. He had three putbacks against Regis (only two counted, one was wrongly called over the back).
On one of the putbacks, he displayed both his ridiculous athleticism and his basketball IQ. As he went up for a putback the ball took an extra bounce and hung on the rim, he just hovered in the air and waited for the ball to be clear of the rim (avoiding goaltending) and then tipped the ball in. Juxtaposed to a guy like Barnes who was like a bull in a china shop with little basketball experience who would have most likely committed the offensive goaltending. I’m still convinced Moemeka can become an all-league defensive player but he does need to learn how to stay out of foul trouble.
Playing Time Distribution
As of right now, I would like to see the rotation as follows. Redding/Gorski/James/Dalton/Herdon as the starters with Adams as the sixth man. Then Maldonado/Moemeka/Mack/Jones rotating in and playing significant minutes. Naughton/Kelley/Mueller only playing sparingly with the potential to earn more minutes. Averbuck only in major garbage time.