2009-10 Wyoming Basketball Preview: #129
Overall Rank: #129
Conference Rank: #6 Mountain West Conference
2008-09: 19-14, 7-9
2008-09 postseason: CBI
Coach: Heath Schroyer (31-32 at Wyoming, 66-79 overall)
Wyoming is not going to lose three of their top four scorers and get much better. Especially when one of those players was Brandon Ewing, the school’s all-time leading three-point shooter and one of the best players to ever suit up for the Cowboys. Yet, this is Coach Heath Schroyer’s second year leading the team and the program is certainly on the upswing.
Key Losses: G Brandon Ewing, F Tyson Johnson, G Sean Ogirri
Nobody is going to replace Ewing, but JayDee Luster is not a bad guy to try. The 5-9 redshirt sophomore was already named the team captain before even playing a game for Wyoming. Luster played one year at New Mexico State, but did not see too much playing time. He will be this team’s leader from day one. Boubacar Sylla is another newcomer who should make a big impact. The 7-2 transfer from Auburn has the size to dominate the Mountain West Conference. Amath M’Baye will give the team even more depth up front, but it is replacing the scoring left behind by Ewing and Ogirri that is most important.
And that is where newcomers Arthur Bouedo, Daylen Harrison, Desmar Jackson and Thomas Manzano come into the picture. Manzano, a junior college transfer who spent one year at Garden City Community College in Kansas, is the most likely to see major playing time this season. The rest of those guys are freshmen and will battle with returning sophomore A.J. Davis for playing time. Until the new guys come into their own, the backcourt belongs to Afam Muojeke. The 6-7 wing had a tremendous freshman campaign, tallying 13.8 points and 5.3 rebounds per game. As a sophomore he will be asked to do even more. He can shoot from long range and help replace Ewing and Ogirri in that regard and is a good enough rebounder to pick up the slack left behind by Tyson Johnson.
It is in the frontcourt where the Cowboys actually have some experience. There is only one senior on this roster in Ryan Dermody and one junior in Djibril Thiam. Thiam will likely step into a starting role after being a staple off of the bench last season. He will not score as much as Johnson did last year, but he is a tough rebounder and the best shot blocker on the team. Adam Waddell was another unheralded newcomer last year who had a surprisingly effective freshman campaign. His numbers will not jump out at anybody, but Waddell was an effective big man under the basket. He may lose his starting job to Sylla at some point, but he is still good for 20 minutes a game and having two big guys is never a bad thing.
Who to Watch:
Does this team have anybody who can replace Ewing’s scoring and Ogirri’s shooting? Davis is the only returning option and he averaged just 12.1 minutes per game last year and is more of a 6-6 point guard than a scorer. When he does score, Davis does not do it from beyond the arc, but does it by getting to the basket. He can certainly start at the two-guard spot if necessary, but suddenly this would be a team without a true outside shooting threat.
If all goes well, Davis will not be asked to score that much. Manzano and the other newcomers have to help out or this season could go downhill in a hurry. The frontcourt can only cover for the backcourt so much and Muojeke cannot do it all. Luster should be a fine point guard and he will do some scoring, but finding a consistent shooting guard is a must. If Manzano is not that guy, Coach Schroyer might have trouble finding one.
Projected Post-season Tournament: none
Projected Starting Five:
JayDee Luster, Sophomore, Guard, DNP last season
Thomas Manzano, Sophomore, Guard, DNP last season
Afam Muojeke, Sophomore, Forward, 13.8 points per game
Djibril Thiam, Junior, Forward, 5.2 points per game
Adam Waddell, Sophomore, Center, 5.1 points per game