Oct. 29, 2012
Laramie, Wyo. -
The University of Wyoming men's basketball team continues preparations for the 2012-13 season by hosting Fort Lewis College for an exhibition game at 7 p.m. on Wednesday in Ethete. A collaboration between the Cowboys and the Nike N7 program, the contest will be played at Wyoming Indian High School on the Wind River Reservation. The Cowboys are 42-6 (.875) in exhibition contests and currently enjoy a 21-game winning streak.
Tickets can be purchased by calling the Wyoming Athletics Ticket Office at 877-WYO-FAN1 (877-996-3261) or going online at GoWYO.com. Fans can also follow live stats and live audio of Wyoming's games through the men's basketball Gameday Central page on the website. The contest will be broadcast on the radio by the Cowboy Sports Network.
A Look at the Matchup
The Pokes crafted a resurgent year in 2011-12 with a 21-12 overall record and berth in the postseason CBI tournament for 11 more wins than the previous season. Wyoming went 6-8 in Mountain West play, including a 68-66 upset of No. 11 UNLV in early February in the Arena-Auditorium, as three players earned All-MW honors after the season. Head coach Larry Shyatt returns just two starters and six letterwinners from that squad, though, and faces a conference slate that is loaded with programs on the upswing. The Cowboys played many grind-it-out games last season, relying on a methodical offense and stingy defense. Wyoming finished sixth in the nation in scoring defense, allowing just 56.2 points per game, and was the last team in the nation to allow an opponent more than 60 points. Offensively, UW ranked in the top 40 in the nation in free throw percentage (73.9) and turnover margin (+2.5). Wyoming returns 50.3 percent of its points scored last season, 62.3 percent of its rebounds and 61.3 percent of its steals. Two of Wyoming's top three scorers from last season are back, including its top two rebounders and top two in steals.
Accomplished head coach Bob Hofman enters his 17th season at the helm for Fort Lewis, after guiding the program to a 16-12 overall record in 2011-12. The Skyhawks went 13-9 in the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference, including wins in four of their last five regular-season games, to tie for fourth and advance to the semifinals of the RMAC tournament. Hofman has guided the Skyhawks to seven total RMAC championships and seven NCAA Division II playoff berths, including an appearance in the Sweet 16 of the NCAA tournament in 2010-11. Fort Lewis returns six letterwinners and three starters from last season's squad that scored 69.5 points per game and allowed 67.2. The Skyhawks shot the same from the floor (44.3) as UW last season and better beyond the arc (35.7). FL's top two scorers graduated, though. Fort Lewis had a plus 2.8 rebounding margin and plus 0.5 turnover margin, thanks in part to averaging 7.5 steals per game. The program welcomes six newcomers to the team this season.
Each Team's Leaders
Wyoming will rely heavily on the senior trio of Leonard Washington, Luke Martinez and Derrious Gilmore this season. UW's two returning starters, Washington and Martinez formed quite a dynamic duo last season. Washington was one of the top big men in the conference, ranking in the top 10 of six different MW statistical categories, while Martinez hit 81 threes during the season, including one in 29 consecutive games. Gilmore steps into the starting role at point guard after serving in a backup capacity behind JayDee Luster last season. Gilmore averaged 3.1 points and 1.0 assist in 24 games a year ago. Sophomore forward Larry Nance Jr. was UW's sixth man last year and could be a starter now at the four position, while the two spot could go to fellow sophomore guard Riley Grabau, who saw extensive time last season as well. Nance averaged 4.1 points and 4.0 rebounds in 2011-12.
Fort Lewis returns three starters in senior guard Marcus Ayala, junior guard Mike Matthews and senior center Torrey Udall. Ayala led the Skyhawks with 53 steals last season and averaged 6.8 points, while Matthews was second on the team at 37 percent beyond the arc and contributed 8.2 points. Udall is the top returning rebounder at 4.1 per game and earned 16 blocks. Fort Lewis has three other players that started a game last season that could fill out its final two starting spots. Senior guard Matthew Mazarei started 10 games and was third on the team with 50 assists, while fellow senior guard Matthias Weissl made (40) and attempted (103) the most threes on the team. Sophomore center Alex Herrera had a team-high 26 blocks and pulled down 2.9 rebounds per game.
About the Series
Wednesday's meeting of the Cowboys and Skyhawks will be the first between the two programs.
Wyoming concludes exhibition play by hosting College of Wooster at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday in the Arena-Auditorium.