The UW starters in the win over ranked Nevada. (Photo Credit: Pete Arnold)

The Wyoming basketball team of the Cowboy variety defeated the #23 ranked Nevada Wolf Pack 104-103 last night on national TV. Here are some random thoughts on the win in the Dome of Doom.

Rotation Solved?

Hopefully Edwards is starting to figure out his rotations, and that playing your best players give you the best chance to win. In the last ten minutes of regulation and into the first overtime (until Justin James fouled out) Edwards stuck pretty much with the same lineup of James/Adams/Maldonado/Dalton/Herndon. This lineup has size, shooters, slashers, and athleticism while having no glaring weaknesses. Also it seems like Edwards has finally come to the realization that Alexander Aka-Gorski shouldn’t be playing significant minutes. Gorski has set a new season low in minutes in each of the last three games (10min vs CSU/9min vs USU/7min vs NEV).

James On A Mission

Justin James played like a potential Mountain West Player of the year candidate. James had 33 points on 64% shooting from the field and he only had 3 makes on 3 attempts from the stripe. He was also a beast on the boards chipping in 10 rebounds from his guard position. He set the standard for Wyoming on the glass and the rest of the team followed. Not only was James getting rebounds but on several of them he skied high over Jordan Caroline and the Martin brothers who are all excellent rebounders. He was a man on a mission and showed the type of tenacity on the boards that Wyoming has been lacking almost the entire season.

Speaking Of Rebounding

This was without a doubt one of the most impressive games we’ve had hitting the glass in the Allen Edwards era. Wyoming won the rebounding battle 48 to 37. In the first game against us Nevada had a soul crushing 15 offensive rebounds. But in this meeting we limited them to only 7 offensive rebounds while playing a full extra half of basketball. Although James was certainly the instigator to our new found and revolutionary idea of boxing out and rebounding the basketball he was getting plenty of help as Alan Herndon chipped in 10 and Hayden Dalton added 9.

Who Was The X-Factor?

Lou Adams was the true X-factor against Nevada and for the most part played with composed aggression. Adams had 17 points and shot 50% from the field while playing 32 minutes and have ZERO turnovers. He came through huge in both overtime periods and stepped in nicely for James as being Wyoming’s creator on offense. Since the game against New Mexico in which Adams had 5 turnover in 13 minutes, he has played a combined 64 minutes (3 games) with only 2 turnovers. If Adams truly has finally learned to adapt his game to the speed of D-1 basketball then Wyoming could be a very dangerous team down the stretch. I still have my concerns about Adams but it’s not unusual for junior college transfers to finally start blossoming during conference play of their second full season (i.e. Justin Williams/Joseph Taylor/Francisco “Paco” Cruz).

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Hayden Dalton was hit and miss against Nevada but thankfully when it counted the most he was hitting. Overall on the game Dalton had 25pts/9reb/4asst/2stl/4to while shooting only 37% from the field and a measly 25% from the arc. But he was 8-8 from the free throw line and he hit several clutch shots down the stretch and in the overtime periods, as well as hitting quite possibly the biggest shot of the game when he hit a three that gave Wyoming a 4pt lead with only 1:30 left in double overtime. On a night he didn’t have his A game he still found a way to help Wyoming beat the #1 team in the conference. And if James and Dalton can every put together their A games on the same night, LOOK OUT!

The Freshman Can Play

Hunter Maldonado has firmly cemented himself in the the starting lineup and a spot in the rotation during high leverage moments. He has seen his playing time increase in four consecutive games (23min vs NM/26min vs CSU/27min vs USU/38min vs NEV. Against Nevada he had 13pts following up his career high 14pts against Utah State. During conference play he is shooting a robust 54% from the field, 55% from three, and 86% from the free throw line.

Can Pokes Show Some Consistency?

Nevada had won 16 consecutive games against conference opponents until losing to Wyoming. Make no mistake about it, they are a very good team. Wyoming was able to beat Nevada on a night when Nevada played pretty good. Every time Wyoming would go on a run Nevada would answer back. Nevada made their first 23 free throw attempts and had an 18/11 assist to turnover ratio. They also had 9 steals 4 blocks and an impressive 40 points scored by their bench. Nevada didn’t shoot quite as well as they normally do from the field or from the arc but overall they played good enough to win. My point being they didn’t give us the win we took it from them. Now Wyoming needs to show they can put forth these types of efforts night in and night out like Nevada has over the last few years if we want to be serious contenders.

Free Throws A Team Strength

On a night when the opposing team started off 23-23 from the free throw line it’s impressive that we ended up out shooting them from the stripe. Nevada ended the night 30-38 from the line which is 78.9% but Wyoming was 34-42 for 81%. Many college basketball games are determined by free throw shooting and currently Wyoming is the 2nd best free throw shooting team in the conference at 75.4%.

Game Management

I’m still finding Edwards end of game management frustrating and confusing. At the end of regulation Wyoming has the ball and has to go the length of the court with about 3.5 seconds left on the clock. And we try a full court baseball pass? 3.5 seconds is plenty of time to get the ball up the sideline to James/Dalton/Adams/Maldonado and get off a desperation shot. But instead we turn the ball over and give Nevada another opportunity to win in regulation, and quite honestly were lucky they didn’t get to inbound the ball under their own hoop (which would have been the case if Nevada didn’t prevent Dalton’s pass from going out of bounds). Then at the end of the first overtime we have possession of the ball with the game tied, but instead of taking last shot we shoot too early giving Nevada another chance to win the game in overtime. I might be willing to give a pass on this last infraction if it wasn’t the umpteenth time this has happened in the last two years under Edwards. And finally at the end of double overtime with a lead and knowing Nevada has to foul us we have one of if not our best free throw shooter (Dalton) inbounding the ball? Is it really that difficult to have Herndon inbound the ball who not only shoots about 20% worse than Dalton from the charity stripe but also is more trustworthy with the basketball as he has half as many turnovers on the season as Dalton (Dalton 51to/Herndon 25to)? Also while I don’t hate the idea of Ny Redding shooting free throws, I think it is a lot to ask to have a guy come in cold off the bench and ice the game away at the line.

Golden Threads

Unequivocally the gold jersey’s we wore against Nevada are our best look. And I think were long past due to upgrade our current uniforms. Our normal home whites and road golds are very generic and I’m not a big fan of the monochromatic numbering style on the jerseys.

 

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