Sunday, November 4, 2018

UCSB vs. Wyoming Preview, by Gaucho Freg

Game 1
UCSB @ Wyoming Preview
Tuesday, November 6, 2018, 6pm PST

The Gauchos travel to Laramie to take on the Cowboys of the Mountain West Conference in the season opener for both teams.  In this battle of North vs. South, Cowboy version, it should provide for a competitive game as both teams lose a lot from last year but return their leading scorers while adding some talented newcomers.

By the Numbers                                                              
  Wyoming UCSB
Preseason Poll Pick (range) 7th to 11th 1st to 6th
CBS Preseason Rank
112 203
2017-18 Record 20-13 23-9
      Conference Record 10-8 11-5
      Home/away vs D1 12-4 (home) 8-5 (away)
 National Rankings (2017-18)
Composite 120 136
DCI 146 140
RPI 98 127
Pomeroy 118 123
Massey 117 147
Sagarin 122 144
SOS 97 307
Efficiency Rankings (Pomeroy)    
                     Offense 160 64
                     Defense 92 212
Scoring 79.8 75.8 
PPG Allowed 78.7 69.1
Wyoming last year:
Best win: Nevada
Worst Loss: Colorado State

Wyoming-UCSB History
UCSB All-time record vs. Cowboys:  2-4
Last game (2012):  Wyoming 68-40, in Laramie

The Arena: Arguably the worst named arena in the country bested only be an even worse nick-name, the “Auditorium-Arena”, nicknamed “AA”, seats 15,028 and is the highest altitude arena in the country at 7,220 feet.  The Cowboys averaged a bit over 5,000 attendance per game last year at home.

Head Coach:  Third year coach Allen Edwards is the first in Wyoming history to win at least 20 games in his first two seasons.  Like Coach Pasternack, Edwards had a terrific first season (2016-17), winning 23 games, setting the school record for offense and winning the CBI. He was an assistant at Wyoming for five years prior to elevating to the HC job.  He’s also had assistant jobs at W. Kentucky, VCU & Morehead St.  As a player, he won two National Championships at Kentucky (1995—1998)
The Cowboys bring back their leading scorer in senior and first team MWC Justin James, a 6’7” wing who averaged 19 ppg, 6 boards and three assists. He flirted with the NBA draft before deciding to remain for his final season. They have two players that were injured last year that should have major roles this year in senior PF Jordan Naughton who was a starter his sophomore year and incoming RS freshman Hunter Thompson who had an injured ankle.  Wyoming graduated 7 players including another first team player and the conference defensive POY from last year’s team so like UCSB, they have significant production to replace and lots of new pieces to integrate.  Coach Edwards will likely still be experimenting with his lineup coming into this game. 
Post exhibition, a Wyoming fan posted this breakdown of the player’s performance:

My breakdown:
Possible Starters
Guard Nyaires Redding #3  6’2” 166 lbs, Senior.  The only other returning player besides Maldonado and James to play significant minutes, the slight guard averaged 3.7 ppg and 1.3 apg.  He played limited minutes at Washington State for two years before transferring. Played 39 minutes in the exhibition, 8-12 from the FT line, just 2-9 from the field.
Guard Hunter Maldonado #24   6’7”, 185 lb, Sophomore, The only other returning starter (19 games) for the Cowboys, he averaged 5.3 ppg and 2 boards.  Team captain. Led the team in points & rebounds in their opening exhibition in which he played 37 minutes
Wing Justin James  #1 6’7”, 180 lb, Senior #1  See above. Will be the focus for the Gaucho defense.  Sat out the exhibition.
Forward Hunter Thompson #10 6’10”, 225 lb, RS Freshman  Listed as an impact newcomer by The MW Wire, Thompson was listed as a 4* and top 100 recruit by ESPN. He apparently had an ankle injury which is why he sat out last season.  8 points, 3 boards and fouled out in the exhibition. Will be a good battle between he and the Gaucho newcomers in the post. 
Forward Jordan Naughton  #33 6’10”, 225 lb,  Senior. Due to injuries, Naughton only played 9 games last year.  As a sophomore he started 26 games, averaging 4.4 ppg and 2.8 boards.  Played just 8 minutes in the exhibition but was 5-5 from the field for 10 points

 Possible Key Reserves:
Guard Jake Hendricks  #0 6’5”, 180 lb.  JC Transfer Junior  Another College of S. Idaho guy, lights out shooter. Set CSI record for 3 pointers made.  Nursing an injured wrist so questionable if he’ll play.
Point Guard AJ Banks #2 6’2”, 163 lb.  JC Transfer Junior   Good athlete and probable back up PG  DNP in the exhibition.
Forward Trace Young  #11 6’9”, 210 lb Freshman   ESPN 3*  Potential to start.  Point-forward skills.  DNP in the exhibition. But coach indicates he could be a RS candidate.
Guard Tariq Johnson #5 6’5”, 206 lb.  Freshman   Was able to draws fouls in the exhibition where he was 6-6 from the line. 
Forward Lwal Dung #34 6’7”, 180 lb Freshman The unfortunately named Australian is a good 3 point shooter and rebounds well for his build.  Defensive stopper.  Played just 6 min in the exhibition.
Forward Brandon Porter #22 6’8”, 190 lb Freshman  Averaged 23ppg and 9 boards at his prep academy.  3-5 from the field for 10 points and 3 steals in the exhibition.
Wing TJ Taylor #13  6’6”, 197 lb Freshman ESPN 3*, Floor spacer.  Active and athletic
Forward Austin Mueller #14 6’6”, 210lb Sophomore Workhorse role player.  Played 35 minutes in the exhibition.

Match-up & prediction:
This will be one of the more intriguing openers for UCSB in that they face a team that they will have a lot in common with.  Both squads have significant turnover from the previous season but return their leading scorers and both have fairly new coaches.  However, UCSB may not have their returning scoring leader, Max Heidegger, who, at best, will not be at full speed after missing much of the preseason workouts with injuries.  On the plus side for the Gauchos, three of their transfers have significant D1 experience so they may have more composure compared to the Cowboy newcomers.  Both teams had no trouble scoring last year but struggled on the defensive side, especially Wyoming which gave up 79 ppg.  In preseason interviews with Coach P, defense is receiving a greater focus for UCSB now that they have the athletes to utilize the strategies he wishes to employ. They will face a significant challenge right out of the gate in the offensive minded Cowboys.   Wyoming did not look good in their exhibition but, it was without their best player and it was an exhibition where sloppiness and a lack of execution is to be expected.  Coach Edwards after the exhibition: "This was an opportunity for me to solidify some thoughts and answer some questions about some guys who I still need to make decisions on whether they can help us this year or whether we will consider redshirting them," Edwards said. "There was a method within what we did tonight.  I wanted some of our young guys to have to go through this tonight and understand the kind of competition that is coming their way.”  IOTW, Wyoming wasn’t playing to win so that result means less.

Keys to the game for the Gauchos
·         First & foremost, limit James.  Not sure who will get this assignment yet but we’ll need Davis/CT/Toure to hound him.
·         Ramsey wins the PG battle vs. Redding who had 12 ft attempts in the exhibition. 
·         Idehen and Sow get boards.  The Cowboy front court is relatively young outside of Naughton and were out rebounded by 11 in their exhibition.  See if UCSB can do the same.
·         Find scoring from other players while not at their Mac-Max  Talking to you Mr. Davis!

Prediction:  It will likely be ugly at first, for both teams but the Cowboys do have an advantage of having a public exhibition under their belts.  Its tempting to look at the mediocre performance against a D2 school and dismiss the Cowboys but clearly their coach was not playing just to win.  Both teams will be working to integrate new pieces and neither team will likely be executing efficiently or be scoring at their normal production. UCSB, without Max at 100% or McLaughlin, plus with Wyoming being a very difficult place to play, probably struggles more. Wyoming 77 UCSB 73

Official Site:
Hey Guys!
How to Watch:   ATT Sportsnet

Wyoming Pre-Season Preview Links ... 19-preview ... omers.aspx ... y-preview/

Wyoming Fun Facts:  The university was founded in 1886, four years before statehood.  The Cowboys won the NCAA Tournament in 1943

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