LAS VEGAS, NV - MARCH 08: Head coach Larry Shyatt of the Wyoming Cowboys talks to an official during a quarterfinal game of the Conoco Mountain West Conference Basketball tournament against the UNLV Rebels at the Thomas & Mack Center March 8, 2012 in Las Vegas, Nevada. UNLV won 56-48. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
Well the Cowboys wrapped up their tour of Calgary and came away undefeated with a 3-0 record. We didn't write up a summary after each game because I wanted to do just one article with a big picture look at the tournament. Some may think I was being lazy, I just call it being resourceful.
With a tournament like this I'm looking at this as positives all around. Based of the results you can't really take a doom and gloom approach or say that the Pokes are a Final Four team. This is still a young team that is working hard and we got to see a glimpse into their progress this week.
I'm not going to breakdown each individual game, instead we'll examine trends that I noticed and point out some performances.
If you really want to see the box scores then knock yourself out.
8/7 - 79-50 win over Calgary
8/10 - 95-67 win over Calgary
Not surprisingly the team showed some offensive rust in the first game. Wyoming was able to boost their shooting % from 37 to 44 to 48 over the three games. On three point shooting they shot 21, 30 and 28%. Free throw shooting was 78, 66 and 83%. I think we can certainly expect another team that is stingy on defense. The Cowboys forced 80 total turnovers in the three games.
Luke Martinez is certainly gunning to be the #1 offensive weapon for the Pokes. He was the only player to score in double figures all three games. At times when the team struggled, Martinez would come off the bench and provide a much needed spark. He will have an even bigger year then 2011.
Last year Larry Nance Jr. was a fantastic sixth man who provided most of his help in the form of defense: steals, blocks and rebounds. We can still expect that same tenacity on the court but with further growth in his shooting. He had 17 points in the opener and went two for free on treys. Nance will be starting this year and his contributions on offense will be definitely needed.
The team is trying to find a replacement at shooting guard for Francisco Cruz. There are a number of players contending for playing time and this will a huge battle to watch this fall. Jason McManamen showed that he definitely shoot the ball. In all three games he shot 50% or higher from the field. He hit a total of five three pointers on the trip. Nathan Sobey had a couple off tough shooting nights against Calgary but had 14 points against Mount Royal. Josh Adams provided some nice scoring but also proved very valuable with nine steals in the three games. Shakir Smith struggled to find a shooting groove but did have eight points in the first game.
One of the most surprising performances this week came from walk-on PG Jack Bentz. He played in all three games without a single turnover. In the final victory he was named game MVP by Jeremy Shyatt by scoring 10 points and shooting a perfect 7-7 on free throws. He also played tremendous defense and has really earned the respect of his teammates. We may have a battle on our hands this year between Bentz and Grabau for that backup point guard spot. Derrious Gilmore looks to be the starter this year, he didn't have tons of assists but hit double digits in scoring twice.
You have to be impressed with the job that Derek Cooke had this week. He only has limited experience playing organized basketball and was recruited as a very raw athlete. Was really only expecting some contributions with rebounds and blocks mainly. He did well there but his offensive contributions were way ahead of what was expected. He nearly had a double double in the first game with eight points and nine rebounds. He had a total of 25 rebounds and led the team in rebounds in every game. It is going to be really fun to watch him develop and grow this season.
Matt Sellers did most of his work on the glass and had seven rebounds in the third game. He was able to have some success scoring if you give the ball inside. He isn't going to be a main scoring option this year but can score when needed. Austin Haldorson looked more comfortable as the week progressed. In the third game he had seven points in just 13 minutes.
Just from following the players and coaches on twitter it seems like everyone had a great time. We can only see what happened on the court, however the bonding and team building off the court is really the most important thing for this team. Having so many new players this year, it was important for this team a chance to really gel. Getting this taste of Cowboy basketball in August got me very excited for the upcoming season. The next big news we'll be looking for is a schedule release. Several Mountain West teams have been releasing their schedules lately and hopefully Wyoming will follow suit soon.