Wyoming men’s basketball to focus on newcomers in exhibition
LARAMIE, Wyo. (AP) — Allen Edwards has watched his mix of holdovers and newcomers go at each other in practice the last few months.
On Thursday, Wyoming’s basketball coach will finally get to see his team go against someone else.
The Cowboys will host Colorado Christian in a 7 p.m. exhibition at the Arena-Auditorium, giving Edwards a chance to gauge where his squad is heading into Tuesday’s season opener against UC Santa Barbara. Wyoming is adding five freshmen and three junior college transfers to a roster that returns four contributors from last year’s 20-win team, including All-Mountain West guard Justin James.
Edwards said he plans on getting minutes for everybody that’s available other than James, who will be held out so Edwards can get a longer look at some of the newcomers in the backcourt that are less established. That includes combo guard A.J. Banks, who’s in line to get significant minutes this season.
“I already know what I have with Justin,” Edwards said. “He doesn’t need to show me anything.”
The newcomers do, which is why Edwards will be closely watching their execution and effort, particularly on defense. Edwards said his team emphasized that end of the floor in the summer and fall after finishing ninth in the MW in field-goal percentage defense and next to last in points allowed last season.
“What I would like to get out of this exhibition is watching our intensity, particularly on the defensive end of the floor,” Edwards told the Casper Star-Tribune. “I feel like this group has the ability to be a really good defensive team. That’s what our focus has been on. I want to see some carryover from practice to actually playing against someone else.”
Edwards added he expects a challenge in that aspect from a Colorado Christian team that incorporates Princeton-style elements in its offense. That means constant motion and plenty of backdoor cuts.
“Now you’re playing against an offense that kind of goes against the tradition of what you just put in,” Edwards said. “So being able to make some adjustments out of our principles to defend them with the action that they run.”
Edwards said he’s comfortable with an eight-man rotation right now but would ideally like to get nine or 10 players regular minutes if possible.
James, Hunter Maldonado, Jordan Naughton and Nyaires Redding will be part of that rotation after contributing last season as will Banks and fellow junior college transfer Jake Hendricks once he’s healthy. Austin Mueller, redshirt freshman Hunter Thompson, junior college transfer Lwal Dung and freshmen TJ Taylor, Tariq Johnson, Brandon Porter and Trace Young are candidates to join it.
“I feel like I already have a feel for (the rotation),” Edwards said. “I just think we could get a little bit more help if need be within a few certain scenarios where I feel like guys have the ability to be able to be put out there.”
Freshman guard Bradley Belt will take an academic redshirt this season, Edwards said, meaning he’ll practice with the team but won’t play.
Hendricks (wrist) still hasn’t been cleared for games and will miss Thursday’s exhibition. Naughton, who missed all but nine games last season with a back injury, recently underwent a cleanup procedure and will be limited as a precaution if he plays at all, Edwards said.
“Everybody else is just bumps and bruises but nothing serious,” Edwards said.
Information from: Casper (Wyo.) Star-Tribune, http://www.trib.com