2015-2016 opponent preview: Game 10, Wyoming Cowboys

Okay, I am skipping the Mavs home game against Simpson College.  It’s just…you know…

Wyoming

2014-2015 final record:  25-10

2014-2015 home record: 15-2

2014-2015 Post Season:  Lost to Northern Iowa in NCAA tournament in “2nd Round”…I still think it’s the first round, but whatever.

Final 2014-2015 RPI:  72

Random Stat:  Wyoming record vs Northern Colorado/Denver/Air Force/Nevada – 4-1.  UNO record vs Northern Colorado/Denver/Air Force/Nevada – 3-2

Let me start out by saying…I like the Mavs in this game.  I like them a lot, even despite the fact that the Mavs are 0-5 when playing a division one opponent in the Mountain time zone since the transition.  Their only win since transition was against Johnson & Wales in 2012.  The Mavs are going to have 5 chances this season to get a win in the hour behind region (Colorado, Northern Colorado, Montana State, Wyoming, Denver).  I think Grand Canyon University might be in the Mountain Time Zone this time of year as well, I am not sure.  Bite me Arizona.


By the way, I learned something about myself here.  I somehow naturally always first type “Cowboys” as “Coyboys”.  It’s not a slam if you see that around here, just my natural incompetence.

Before we go any further, let’s talk about what the Cowboys lost.

Ricky Grabau, a 6’2″ guard that averaged 9 points, 2 rebounds, 2 assists, he shot 37% from three point range, made 61 threes in his senior season, and he was a 94% free throw shooter that got to the free throw line three times a game last year.

Derek Cooke, a 6’9″ forward that was an 8 and 6 guy and shot 72% from the field, and he also averaged a block and a steal per game in his senior season for the Cowboys.

Charles Hankerson, a 6’4″ wing player that averaged 7 points, 3 rebounds, and 2.6 assists in his last season at Wyoming.  He also made 42 threes last season.

Matt Sellers, a 6’10 post player that only got 10 minutes per game, and he missed the last 18 games of the season.  He gave the Cowboys length though when he was available, and he had a 16 point and 8 rebound performance against Florida A&M while going 8 of 9 from the floor that game.

Oh, and then there is this other guy named Larry Nance, Jr.  6’9″ and 230 pounds, and he was a first round draft pick to the Los Angeles Lakers.  Nance averaged 16 and 7 his senior season, and also dished out 2.5 assists per game.  He also shot 51% from the floor and 78% from the free throw line.

Mitch Kupchak is excited about Larry Nance as anyone.
Mitch Kupchak is excited about Larry Nance as anyone.

I know losing some quality players, and only having one senior does not necessarily mean that the Cowboys are going to be terrible by any means.  But losing the main pieces of your roster is never a great thing.  What were your thoughts when That 70s Show lost Topher Grace and Ashton Kutcher?  Or when Scrubs lost every damn member of the cast as regular characters?  You immediately wrote off the show, right?  I am apparently one of the few people that stopped with 2 and a half Men when Charlie Sheen left the show, not that I was an avid watcher while he was on the show though.

It is very hard on mid-majors when they lose a NBA guy.  It is a lot to lose, and a lot to make up.  I know Creighton was no longer a mid-major when they lost Doug McDermott, but they essentially had a mid-major roster when they lost him; and they had a significant drop off.  The Bluejays struggled finding an identity after they lost Kyle Korver and lost to Nebraska in the NIT while Korver was draining 3s with the Sixers.  Wyoming is going to have 8 new players to mix into their lineup.  Even when Creighton lost Anthony Tolliver and Nate Funk, the team had a huge drop off in a weak year for the Missouri Valley.  The team was mixing Dane Watts with a couple junior college players and like 6 freshman.  Things were okay, but not great.


So if they lost some great talent, what do they have coming back?

Josh Adams is a 6’2″ senior guard that is the only returning Cowboy that averaged in double figures.  He averaged 12.8 ppg, 3.3 rpg, 3.6 apg, 1.4 spg, and shot 44% from the field last season.  His season high was 27 points against ranked Boise State.  He has averaged 6 points per game and 36% from the field in five career games against Summit League opponents (Denver & South Dakota).  A player like this could really prepare new guards like Tra-Deon Hollins and JT Gibson for the Summit League.

A guy with a fun name to say: Jason McManamen is a 6’5″ junior that played in about 17 minutes per game last season and averaged 3.7 in each contest while shooting 40% from the field.  Probably his best all around game last season was when he had 5 points and 7 rebounds in a win over Montana State.

The last returning Cowboy to get significant minutes in 2014-2015 was Alan Herndon, a 6’9″ post player who is going to be a sophomore.  He averaged 3 points per game and 2.2 rebounds per game in his freshman season.  He was able to help the Cowboys pick up a win against some team called the Denver Pioneers in his freshman season with a 9 point and 6 rebound performance, perhaps helping out my stance that you need a decent offensive post game to beat the Pioneers, along with quick defensive guards.  We’ll get to that another day, probably.

Aside from these returning players, the Cowboys were able to pick up 2 three star freshman (per Rivals) who could be immediate impacts for Wyoming.  Their recruiting class is highlighted by Austin Conway from Aurora, Colorado.  He was rated a three star recruit and also held an offer from Indiana.  He appears to have some great handles.

Considering the Mavericks have a good chunk of their roster returning, and the Cowboys are not returning much; I really like the Mavs chances here.  I have questioned if the Mavericks can keep up their high pace on the road in the Rocky Mountain region, especially with a roster that hasn’t been extremely deep when they’ve played there.  Wyoming is actually at a higher elevation than Denver.  It is something that visiting teams need to be prepared for.  Can the UNO Biomechanics building prepare the Mavs for this?  Can they donate that?  I feel like I have seen elevation masks in there, or they were all playing Batman in there.  I’m sure it’s most likely science related stuff though, that program is crazy good.

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