Allen Edwards puts onus on Cowboys basketball to get over conference hump
LARAMIE, Wyo. — The Wyoming men’s basketball team entered its first season under head coach Allen Edwards with plans to run more. But so far this conference season, the Cowboys mostly have been running in place.
After winning consecutive Mountain West games for the first time this season, Wyoming has now lost two in a row, falling 78-73 on Tuesday to Colorado State in Laramie.
“I just told the guys, it’s to that point now where we have to move, man,” Edwards said. “I just feel like we’ve been on this point for a while and beating on the same points that are causing us to come out on the other end of wins and losses.
“So my point to them was, ‘You guys have got to figure it out. I don’t know what other message we can send to you as a staff of the things that are killing us, or hurting us when it comes to winning the game.’”
Despite Tuesday’s game being a rivalry game at home, Wyoming still didn’t display the level of intensity Edwards and his staff want. With four conference games remaining and the Cowboys sitting in eighth place, Edwards believes his players need to take it upon themselves to go into the conference tournament with some momentum.
“I’m still getting on guys about playing hard, and that makes no sense,” Edwards said. “And I basically told them, even with what’s going on at CSU and them playing with seven guys, those guys believe in what their coach is selling. And I’m saying, I will put this staff up against anybody in the country.
“And I told them that. ‘I don’t care who you’re talking about, Coach (Mike Krzyzewski), Coach (John Calipari), whoever. I’ll put them up, because we do our job in a sense of preparing you guys for the game. You’ve just got to follow the plan out.’”
Edwards felt the lack of energy was especially costly in the first half when Colorado State, now in first place in the Mountain West, shot 50 percent overall and 50 percent from 3-point range.
“I thought probably (we were) more so concerned about the offensive end of the floor, to where I’m always saying our energy shouldn’t be predicted by what’s going on on that end of the floor,” Edwards said. “When you think about them shooting 50 percent from the field and from 3, it wasn’t anything new that they did. It’s just that we were not effective with our game plan, and a lot of it dealt with energy.”
The Cowboys played better defense in the second half, holding Colorado State to 33 percent shooting and just one make on three 3-point attempts. The Rams’ leading scorer, Gian Clavell, had 20 points but was just 5 of 17 from the field.
“I thought we were effective on him,” Edwards said. “I thought we were not effective on Emmanuel (Omogbo, who had 19 points and 16 rebounds). Because his game is an energy game. ... I think he’s effective with his energy and how hard he plays.”
But Wyoming was never able to regain the lead, which it only held for 18 seconds all game, thanks to a strong defensive effort by the undermanned Rams.
“They’re just a tough-minded defensive team,” Edwards said. “And I’m still amazed, game in and game out, how they can do it without fouls being called over the period. I’m amazed by that, but that’s nothing new. That’s been going on for a while. I don’t know what (head coach Larry Eustachy) is teaching but they defend.”
The Cowboys got within a point of tying twice in the final minutes, but were unable to close out, falling to 6-8 in conference play. Wyoming plays at second-place Boise State, at home against New Mexico, at Colorado State and at home against San Jose State to close the regular season.
Turning it around, Edwards said, comes down to having “the will.”
“And again, the only way to get over it is to correct the things that we’re not doing well,” he said. “And to me, like I told them, for us to still be at that point where I’m talking about energy, that’s a problem.
“... We’ll figure it out. We’ll figure it out.”