Naughton, Thompson Remain Observers as Pokes Host Grambling Wednesday

It’s been a rough beginning to the 2018-19 season for the Cowboys men’s basketball team.

The challenge for head coach Allen Edwards and his staff is to keep the active Cowboys focused on what they can do to win, a bit bigger challenge than normal considering the Cowboys roster that features eight newcomers — four junior college transfers and four freshman.

“I am optimistic we will be a very optimistic about this group going forward, and obviously anticipating (Jordan) Naughton and (Hunter) Thompson coming back, and a healthy (Hunter) Maldando.

“The guys’ energy has been great, and understanding our team has changed, but with that being said, how do we go about putting ourselves in position to win games going forward? That’s more of our focus than worrying about when they come back.”

Naughton, a senior and the projected starting center, Jordan Naughton, suffered a knee injury in an exhibition game against Colorado Christian on Nov. 1, and is expected to be sidelined most likely until the Cowboys open Mountain West play in January.

Thompson, the 6-10 redshirt freshman from Pine Bluffs, was being counted on to step in for Naughton, but midway through the second half of the Cowboys’ season opening 73-63 loss to Cal-Santa Barbara at the Dome of Doom on Nov. 6, he took an elbow to his chin, and suffered a concussion.

Edwards said Tuesday Thompson still hasn’t been cleared to return to non-contact workouts, and would miss home games this week against Grambling, Wednesday night, and Niagara, on Friday.

That reaffirmed the initial report by WelcomeTo7220 that Thompson would be out at least two weeks.

The hope is Thompson could be back next week when the Cowboys have two games in the Fort Myers (Fla.) Tip Off next week. They play Boston College on Monday night, and have a second game on Wednesday against either Loyola Chicago or Richmond.

Oh, and sophomore Hunter Maldanado, who is projected to be the primary compliment to senior guard Justin James, is slowed by assorted leg ailments, although he did come off the bench at Oregon State, in the Cowboys’ 83-74 loss against a team that featured three 7-footers.

Those, however, are issues out of the control of Edwards, his staff and the remaining players.

What is in their control is how they approach the upcoming games.

“It’s about getting this group to play the best basketball can. When you go from having 6-11 kid and 6-10 middle to having a 6-6 middle makes a difference what you are going to do. I love our energy. The leadership (Justin) James has provided. They come in every day with a workman mentality, understanding this is what we have now.”

And for all the concerns about the present, Edwards can see a benefit.

“This actually helps us long term, giving these guys an opportunity and get out there in uncharacteristic situations,” said Edwards. “If you had Naughton or Thompson or both. you put (the new players) in scenarios where they can gain a little more seasoning. Right now it’s test under fire.”

The challenge, however, is surviving the short term.

Tracy RingolsbyComment