#95 Wyoming Men's Basketball 2014-2015 Preview

Wyoming Cowboys

2014-2015 Overall Rank: #95
Conference Rank: #5 MWC

Wyoming Team Page#95 Wyoming Men's Basketball 2014-2015 PreviewBuy Wyoming Basketball Tickets

Wyoming was sitting at 17-9 last season but things fell apart when star forward Larry Nance Jr. went down with a knee injury against Fresno State. Nance was lost for the season with a torn ACL and Wyoming won just one of their next seven games to close out the season. Nance is back this year and the Cowboys will be counting on him. The 6-foot-8 forward led Wyoming in scoring, 15.4 points per game, and rebounding, 8.6 per game, on the way to earning First Team All-MWC honors. Playing on a team that finished near the bottom of the country in rebounding, Nance will be key for Wyoming if they are to improve this season.

2013-14 Record: 18-15, 9-9
2013-14 Postseason: CBI
Coach: Larry Shyatt
Coach Record: 59-41 Wyoming, 148-134 overall

Who’s Out:
The Cowboys lose two key players in guards Nathan Sobey and Jerron Granberry. Sobey started all 33 games last season in his second year on campus after transferring in from junior college. He saw his three-point percentage drop from 42 percent as a junior to 26 percent last season, but still contributed 9.8 points per game. Granberry was the team’s sixth man in his lone season after transferring in from North Florida, appearing in all 33 games while averaging 6.1 points per contest. Four other players left the program, transferring to other schools. Junior forward Austin Haldorson was the most experienced of the group, playing in 41 games over his two seasons as a Cowboy. Aaron Tyser played in 10 games last season, averaging 1.3 points per game, while Zane Stull and Keonta Vernon, two freshmen last season, also transferred. Stull appeared in four games, while Vernon saw no action.

Who’s In:
Five freshmen will compete for playing time this season. The emphasis of the group was on size, as Wyoming has four freshman who are 6-foot-6 or taller. Alan Herndon is eligible after redshirting his first season on campus. The 6-foot-8 forward averaged just over 13 points and 9 rebounds per game as a high school player in Colorado. Herndon and another Colorado prep player, 6-foot-10 center Jonathon Barnes, have the best shots to see early time. Barnes has played just two years of organized basketball, but is a big time talent, having averaged 14.9 points and 9.5 rebounds per game last year. 6-foot-8 Tyrell Williams and 6-foot-6 Diontae Jones will add depth. Shyatt brought in two guards to complete the group and both could see immediate playing time. Jeremy Lieberman, a three-star recruit out of California, and Alexander Gorski, a native of Sweden who shot over 44 percent from three-point range at Sunrise Christian Academy last season, will both be in the mix for spots in the backcourt.

Who to Watch:
Wyoming is a team that relies on their backcourt play. Two backcourt starters return from last year’s team, as well as two players who appeared in at least 27 games off the bench. Point guard Josh Adams is back for his junior season and will lead the team. A three year starter, Adams was second on the team in scoring last season, 12.7 points per game, while leading the team in assists, 2.9 per game. Sharpshooter Riley Grabau will team up with Adams in the backcourt for the third straight season. Grabau was the team’s best shooter last year, making 42 percent of his threes and just under 90 percent of his free throws while averaging 10.1 points per game. A three-guard lineup has been the norm under Shyatt, and that isn’t likely to change this season. Alabama transfer Charles Hankerson Jr. should slide into the starting lineup in his second season with the Cowboys. Hankerson played in 27 games last season, averaging 5.1 points per game, before being suspended from the team in late February. He was reinstated after the end of the year and should be counted on the replace Sobey and Granberry. Tre Washington III also figures to see more playing time this season. The sophomore played in 29 games in his first season on campus, averaging 3.0 points in just under 10 minutes per game. He will team with senior Jack Bentz and sophomore Jason McManamen to provide depth in the backcourt.

Final Projection:
Whether Wyoming can improve on last season will likely come down to their frontcourt play. The Cowboys have a number of returners back and should be very good defensively again, but the main area for improvement will be in the rebounding game. Wyoming can expect Nance to grab eight or nine boards a night but how about the other players? Derek Cooke Jr. and Matt Sellers are the only returning players who stand taller than 6-foot-5 and both should see quality time. Cooke started alongside Nance last year and should do so again. The 6-foot-9 forward averaged 6.1 points and 5.8 rebounds per game, numbers he will need to improve on this year. Sellers played in just 12 contests, averaging 1.2 points and 0.9 rebounds per game. If he can step up, along with the freshmen in the frontcourt, Wyoming could improve this season and might even be in contention for an at-large NCAA Tournament berth.

Projected Postseason Tournament: CBI/CIT

Projected Starting Five:
Josh Adams, Junior, Guard, 12.7 points per game
Riley Grabau, Senior, Guard, 10.1 points per game
Charles Hankerson Jr., Senior, Guard, 5.1 points per game
Derek Cooke Jr., Senior, Forward, 6.1 points per game
Larry Nance Jr., Senior, Forward, 15.4 points per game

By the Numbers:
Scoring Offense: 64.5(306th in nation, 10th in conference)
Scoring Defense: 61.7 (17, 2)
Field-Goal Percentage: 47.2 (35, 1)
Field-Goal Defense: 40.6 (142, 4)
Three-Point Field Goals Per Game: 5.7 (218, 9)
Three-Point Field-Goal Percentage: 35.1 (131, 5)
Free-Throw Percentage: 71.6 (117, 8)
Rebound Margin: -4.2 (308, 11)
Assists Per Game: 12.5 (189, 6)
Turnovers Per Game: 10.5 (34, 6


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