Cowboys Not Overlooking San Jose in MWC Hoops

LAS VEGAS — The Cowboys not to take anything for granted.

They go into the MWC Basketball Tournament at the Thomas and Mack in Wednesday's first round facing No. 11 seed San Jose State.

The Cowboys will be heavy favorites to advance. But then a year ago they were heavy favorites to advance, and were upset by No. 10 seed Air Force, falling behind 25-0 in that game and being eliminated. They wound up being invited to the CBI and won the championship of that tournament.

Coach Allen Edwards said the Cowboys aren't going back to the CBI again this year. That means either they will go home once after the MWC tournament, upset a couple teams along the way and claim an NCAA berth or play well enough in the MWC tournament to cement an invite to the NIT.

Right now the focus is on one thing -- winning the third game of Day 1 of the men's tournament on Wednesday. Tipoff is 5 p.m. The game will be broadcast on the Cowboy State Network.

What can't be taken away from these Cowboys is that they are only the second Wyoming men's basketball team in the last 14 seasons to compile a winning record in the MWC. The other one was in 2014-15 when head coach Larry Shyatt, whose staff included assistant Allen Edwards, knocked off San Diego State in the MWC title game and advanced to the NCAA. This year's team will have to win four games in four days to advance, a challenge for a team that has shown an ability to stop the best in the MWC in impressive style, but also has struggled against lesser teams this season.

They do have two wins against San Jose State, which was 1-15 in MWC play and 4-25 overall. The Cowboys won in overtime at San Jose on Jan. 27,90-86,  and beat the Spartans by an 89-75 score three weeks later in Laramie.

"We can’t in any sense live off of those two games," Edwards said. "Got to go in with a mindset of a fresh start, because we all have a fresh start right now. And just got to key in on playing Cowboy basketball for 40 minutes."

Edwards said freshman guard Hunter Maldonado, who missed the last three games of Wyoming's regular season with an ankle injury, could return for the Cowboys' postseason opener.

"If he’s going to play, I may get him out there really, really early, if not start him, just to see where he is," said Edwards. "He’s made some good strides here, walking around without a boot, running a little bit on the floor, shooting a little bit."

Lou Adams missed practice Monday because of a swollen knee, Edwards said, but he expects the senior guard, who was recently named sixth man of the year by Mountain West media, to play.


Tracy RingolsbyComment