Thompson on Concussion Protocol, Could Be Back Next Week
LARAMIE — The Cowboys suffered a loss to University of California Santa Barbara 76-66 in their season opener at the AA on Tuesday night. That, however, wasn’t the loss that hurts the most.
After seeing starting center Jordan Naughton suffer an lcl tear in his left knee in an exhibition game last week, which likely will keep him out until conference play, the Cowboys other big-man, redshirt freshman Hunter Thompson was forced out of Tuesday’s game midway through the second half.
“I was told he didn’t remember the hit or going off the floor up to the training room,” said head coach Allen Edwards. “He is on concussion protocol now.”
He also was to be examined Wednesday for a possible fractured jaw, but x-rays were negative.
Thompson will miss the Cowboys game at Oregon State on Saturday, but will be re-evaluated next week, creating the possibility he could return as early as the game against Grambling Nov. 14.
“Injuries have plagued us a little bit,” said head coach Allen Edwards. “Losing Thompson hurts. We had to play smaller in the game then we wanted to.”
And that figures to be the case in at least the next three games.
Without Naughton and Thompson, both of whom are 6-foot-10, the Cowboys’ size is limited. Freshman Trace Young, listed as a forward/guard, is 6-foot-9, but the Cowboys are looking at having him red-shirt.
On Tuesday night, the bulk of the big-man work fell on 6-foot-6 sophomore Austin Mueller. Two other options are junior college transfers Lwal Dung, and 6-foot-8 forward Brandon Porter, a true freshman, but Edwards did say, “They are going to have to show something in practice to get in the game. We have a couple days of practices for them to show me they deserve to be put on the floor (at Oregon State).”
Neither one of them would be considered board crashers. Porter tips the scales at 193 pounds, and Dung weighs 179 pounds.
“They bring a different aspect,” Edwards said. “They are more skilled in the game than Thompson. They are more athletic.”
Thompson, however, is a go-to-the-board, rebounding type, who also has a soft shot from inside or three-point range, and is an upscale passer. He, however, is not as agile as the other two.
And truth be told, with Naugton and Thompson out, the Cowboys are going to have someone exert themselves. They were out rebounded by UCSB 40-29, as well as out shot. Santa Barbara hit 51.1 percent of its field goal attempts compared to 36.2 percent by the Cowboys, and that includes the Gauchos hitting 36.8 percent of the three-point attempts compared to 17.2 percent for the Cowboys.
Wyoming got hung up on the three-point shot against UCSB, and paid for it. They hit only five of 29 attempts from the behind he three-point stripe, including Austin Muller, Justin James and Ny Redding going a combined 0-for-12. Hunter Maldanado and Jake Hendricks were both 2-for-7, and Thompson was 1-for-3.
What underscored the problems with the focus on shooting from outside was the fact that with 12:29 to play, UCSB committed its seventh foul. Redding hit both friends throws from the foul, but Cowboys only shot two free throws in the next six minutes, and six free throws until James went 3-for-3 from the line with 21 seconds to play.
The Cowboys have three days to sort out the roster rotation for the upcoming games before the Oregon State game.
They can only hope there is a Next Man Standing, who can step into the void created at center by the two injuries in the last week.