After seven games it is becoming apparent that Wyoming is a much different team without their senior guard.
The loss of Luke Martinez has obviously a big loss for Wyoming. We have really seen the Cowboys struggle in many areas that Martinez excelled at. There is very little hope that Luke will be back this year and we are still seeing if anyone can fill his shoes.
At the time of his suspension Martinez was the second highest scorer on the team and the top three point and free throw shooter on the Cowboys. His 6-5 frame helped become a great perimeter defender and also lead the team with over two steals a game.
|2012 - Luke Martinez||12||30.5||4.5||9.9||45.4||2.9||6.9||42.2||2.6||3.0||86.1||0.7||2.3||3.0||1.5||1.8||2.1||0.2||1.6||14.5|
After starting off 12-0 the Pokes have gone 3-5 since Martinez last took the court. With conference play starting the level of competition has also greatly increased.
Here is what has happened over the last eight games:
Wyoming barely escaped from Dallas with a 59-56 win over SMU. While the Pokes did get seven three pointers they only went 12 of 21 from the charity stripe.
The Cowboys first loss came in the conference opener where Boise State hit 11 three pointers. The final trey was a buzzer beater. This was a depleted Bronco team that had suspended five players miss the game including their second leading scorer.
In the victory over Nevada the Cowboys required a big second half to win in Reno. Luckily they caught the Wolf Pack on a truly awful shooting night in which they shot just 29% from the field. Nevada outrebounded Wyoming 48-31.
In their worst performance on the year Wyoming fell apart against Fresno State. The Cowboys scored a season low 36 points and shot 24% from the field and 35% from the stripe.
To their credit the Pokes bounced back for a big upset of San Diego State. Still they struggled from long range by hitting just 4 of their 16 attempts.
In their last two losses Wyoming has struggled mightily from downtown. Against UNLV the team shot 3 of 16 (18.8%) and against Air Force they went 5 of 28 (17.9%). Derrious Gilmore is 3 of 14 during that time. He is certainly not the only player that has struggled.
Leonard Washington has done his best to lead the team. Without a strong outside shooter defenses are keying in on Washington and making it harder for him to post up. Larry Nance Jr. had a great offensive performance against UNLV with a team best 16 points.
The rest of the team has been cold and no one has really stepped up to try and fill the shoes of Martinez. Josh Adams has struggled recently despite seeing an increase in his minutes. The freshmen guard is incredibly athletic and has had some big games this for Wyoming. Over the last five games though he has only reached double digits in scoring in the victory over the Aztecs. In their most recent loss Adams was held scoreless in 24 minutes and fouled out. Playing such a long schedule can be tough of freshmen. It may be that he is just hitting a bit of a wall and facing conference competition doesn't make it any easier.
Riley Grabau had health issues in December that kept him out for a bit. He appears healthy now and reached double digits in the Boise, Nevada and Fresno games. Since that he has scored just 8 points total over the last three games. Grabau can shoot the three but has struggled of late.
Without consistent shooting from behind and the arc and free throw line Wyoming will struggle to out points on the board. It seems like we are looking at a situation that happened last year where the Pokes didn't have the weapons to make a come back when down. If the game is close the defense can keep a win possible.
This week Wyoming faces a tough task: hosting conference leader New Mexico and then taking on Colorado State in Fort Collins. There is a good chance the Pokes could end the first half of the conference schedule on a four game slide. It will take a total team effort to help right this ship.