The Cowboy basketball team gets started this weekend with an exhibition game against NAIA pushover Peru State. Last year the Pokes put up 120 points while taking down the Grizzlies. The result won't matter but it will be a valuable experience for the newest members of the team.
There was plenty for Poke fans to complain last but the two glaring weak spots were three point shooting and rebounding. The Cowboys were pretty much bottom of the barrel when it came to shooting from behind the arc. As a team the Pokes only shot .267 on three pointers ranking them 345th out of 347 teams.
When it came to grabbing boards the Pokes averaged just 33.8 total rebounds which tied them for 235th in the nation. There was a lack of depth inside and the Cowboys didn't have any wide bodies to do the dirty work in the paint. Well Coach Schroyer made the most of his five availalbe scholarships and used them to address these two areas specifically.
Let's take a look at the newcomers who will be suiting up for the Pokes this year.
F Brian Gibson, 6-8 243lbs
The top JUCO rebounder in the nation last year Gibson is packing some serious beef cake. At 243 lbs he is already the heaviest player on the roster and will be a big presence inside. Last year Louisiana native averaged 14.6 rebounds as well as 12.2 points and 2.3 blocks per game. In NBA comparisons he resembles Brandon Bass who he actually played behind during high school.
Gibson is 24 years old after working after high school and starting a family. He then decided he needed to get an education to help his family and went back to school. Was injured in his first year and didn't lose any eligibility so he will have three years here in Laramie. Brings great focus and maturity to the Pokes roster.
The inside presence of Gibson should be a huge help to the interior defense as well as grabbing boards. I think he will make the biggest impact of all the new players this year.
G/F Francisco "Paco" Cruz, 6-3 217lbs
Long range shooter from JC Western Nebraska who brings some nice size and shooting ability to the small forward position. He goes by "Paco" for short which is fun to say and easier to write so he is already in my good graces. A native of Mexico Cruz moved to the Denver prior to his junior year of high school. At Western Nebraska he averaged 20 points and hit 93 three pointers which was 47% of his attempts. Also averaged six rebounds last year as well.
With Afam Muojeke still working his way back expect Paco to see a large chunk of minutes early in the season. A great addition to help cure the three point shooting woes.
G Joe Hudson, 6-1 180lbs
San Diego kid that is a hard worker and has sweet shooting stroke. There was a chance that Hudson could be redshirt this year as he is the only freshman on the team. That could change due to the injury to Luke Martinez (see below) so we may the kid from Cali after all. As a prep Hudson averaged 23 points and hit 112 three pointers, he shot 44 percent from the field and 39 percent on three pointers.
Can play the one or the two spot but will have to battle with Arthur Bouedo for minutes behind Desmar Jackson and JayDee Luster. The hard working Hudson could become a fan favorite during his time in Laramie.
G Luke Martinez 6-4 175lbs
Another JUCO sharpshooter Martinez might not see the floor this year after suffering an elbow injury and undergoing surgery last week. He joins the Cowboys are spending two year at Williston State in North Dakota where he averaged 19.7 points, 5.8 rebounds, 2.1 assists and 2.5 steals. Shot 54% from the field and 39% on three pointers. A better shooter overall than Paco Cruz but not as deadly from long range.
He is out indefinitely and if the recovery time takes more than two to three months it may be best to just redshirt him. Never good to suffer an injury but he will have plenty of time recover and will have two years of eligibility still if he does redshirt.
F Leonard Washington 6-7 235lbs
A transfer from USC Washington will be sitting out this year due to NCAA regulations. He will be using his redshirt this year and will join the Pokes next year as redshirt with two years of eligibility remaining. Though he see any floor time this season Washington can still practice with the team and reports have been very positive so far. He is a beastly inside presence that averaged 6 points and 4 rebounds during his two year stint at USC.
Washington does come with some baggage as he missed the first half of last year due to grades and his freshman year he punched Blake Griffin. In the spring he was dismissed from the Trojan basketball team and then decided to transfer to Wyoming. He certainly has talent and will push his teammates during practices this year. Seems like he is fitting in well so far in Laramie.
BTW - Leonard looks like he could be a professor in his picture, not a basketball player.