2007-08 Wyoming Basketball Preview
Overall Rank: #83
Conference Rank: #4 Mountain West
2006-07: 17-15, 7-9, 5th
2006-07 postseason: none
Wyoming struggled down the stretch of the season, but with a couple superstars on the perimeter, the Cowboys will be back in the race for a Mountain West championship. Brandon Ewing and Brad Jones combined for 38.0 points, 7.6 assists and 8.3 rebounds per game. The comparisons between the two are obvious. Both can run the point, but working on the assist to turnover ratio is vital for Ewing and Jones. Neither is consistent from long range but will keep the defense honest and occasionally hit a shot from beyond the arc instead of driving the lane. With this dangerous duo on the floor, Wyoming can beat anybody. The development of 6-5 wing Eric Platt may end up being very important for Ewing and Jones. Platt, a sophomore, proved to be a consistent long range shooter as a freshman and if he continues to develop, it could open things up for the big time scorers in the backcourt.
A handful of transfers are causing some concern in Laramie. Wing James Spencer was the only player to start all 32 games and was third on the team averaging 10.5 points per contest. Ike Okoye was not much of a scoring threat under the basket, but the 6-8 power forward worked hard on the glass. Aaron Henson only saw action in four games before opting to transfer. Daaron Brown and Chris Anderson both missed some games during their senior seasons, but when available, Brown and Anderson were effective big men when they were available. Walk-on Louis Engels will not suit up for the Cowboys after seeing action in just five games last year.
New coach Heath Schroyer found himself with some scholarships to work with, but not a lot of time. All things considered, this is a decent class that will provide some quality players in the future. However, this year’s team needs some help too and, while the entire class will be given the opportunity to make an impact, it is junior college transfer Tyson Johnson that has the biggest expectations right now. The 6-6 forward from Blinn Community College in Texas averaged 20.9 points and 8.3 rebounds last year. His versatility to play in the paint or step out to the perimeter will add another dynamic to the team, but his toughness inside will keep him on the floor. Adam Waddell, at 6-9 and 220 pounds has the skill set to add depth immediately, especially on the defensive end; however, it is Mikhail Linskens who may be the future of the frontcourt. The seven-footer is an intriguing prospect and has plenty of experience at the international level playing on Belgium’s 20 and Under National Team. His range extends to the three point arc, but it will probably take a little time for the freshman to adjust to playing in the Mountain West Conference. At 6-6, wing Afam Muojeke will bring some size to the perimeter. He is a decent shooter and has enough athleticism to get to the basket. Marios Matalon has some international experience of his own and the 6-3 combo guard from Greece will be asked to contribute off the bench as a freshman.
Who to Watch:
Joseph Taylor was expected to contribute on the defensive end last year after transferring from Los Angeles City College. He did that and much more. While still not a huge offensive threat, Taylor will use his strength to get some buckets in the paint and grab his fair share of rebounds. When healthy, Bienvenu Songondo has the potential to be a productive big man. He can run the floor and is developing into a strong rebounder. Injuries have hampered his collegiate career thus far and it is becoming more difficult to count on the 6-10 junior to remain fit. Ryan Dermody, a big small forward, and Travis Nelson had decent freshmen campaigns, but need to prove they can handle a bigger role.
There are options up front, but none have the scoring prowess of the departed players. As long as the unit can find a decent scorer inside to stop the defense from keying in on the perimeter group, Wyoming will be a better team than last year. Ewing and Jones are stars, but they cannot do everything themselves.
Projected Post-season Tournament: NIT
Projected Starting Five:
Brad Jones, Senior, Guard, 18.1 points per game
Brandon Ewing, Junior, Guard, 19.9 points per game
Eric Platt, Sophomore, Guard, 6.2 points per game
Joseph Taylor, Senior, Forward, 5.1 points per game
Bienvenu Songondo, Junior, Forward, 1.6 points per game