Wyoming Rebounds From Adversity
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — All the great publicity the Wyoming Cowboys garnered through its improbable 13-0 non-conference run is being put to the test.
First the Cowboys fell from the ranks of the unbeaten on Wednesday, on their home court no less, in the Mountain West opener to Boise State.
Then Monday a jail mug shot of senior guard Luke Martinez — featuring a Nike branded Wyoming Cowboys shirt — began making the rounds. He was served a warrant early Sunday charging aggravated assault and battery from a Dec. 30 brawl outside the Buckhorn Bar in Laramie, Wyo., that led to his breaking a finger on his shooting hand.
The school has suspended Martinez, second on the team with 14.6 points per game, indefinitely.
Coach Larry Shyatt on Monday said his team’s Saturday win over Nevada was “probably our most important victory of the year” because it showed signs of his team responding to the adversity of the Boise State loss.
Martinez, who had a cast on his hand as he sat on the team’s bench Saturday, is scheduled to appear in court in Laramie today.
BOISE STATE: The Broncos, UNM’s Wednesday opponent in Boise, Idaho, are the only team in the nation to have two true road wins (not on a neutral court) against nationally-ranked teams.
Boise State beat No. 11 Creighton in Omaha on Nov. 28 and beat Wyoming, which was ranked No. 25 in the USA Today Coaches Poll though unranked in the AP poll, last week.
SAN DIEGO STATE: Defending Mountain West Player of the Year Jamaal Franklin on Monday shared the league’s weekly Player of the Week honor with UNM’s Alex Kirk.
Aztecs coach Steve Fisher said he’s proud of how Franklin has progressed in the past two years and hasn’t taken a step back despite being the “No. 1 guy on the opponent’s scout board” all season.
“Jamaal’s a good player and he wants to be better,” Fisher said. “That’s the best part of who he is. He’s not satisfied with who he is.”
Franklin is averaging 17.8 points and 10.3 rebounds per game this season, third and second in the league rankings, respectively.
AIR FORCE: Close doesn’t cut it in the Mountain West.
Falcons coach Dave Pilipovich said his team was anything but satisfied with its near upset at UNLV on Saturday when Air Force fell in overtime 76-71.
“I think discouraged because it was a game you had an opportunity to win,” Pilipovich said when asked to describe how his team felt after the loss at UNLV, which could have been the programs first win over a ranked team on the road.
“We talked about one more play. If we all would have made just one more play — maybe a block out, maybe a contested shot, maybe a made free throw — whatever it may be, if we just made one more play, we’re leaving Vegas with a win.”
Still, there are some good signs coming out of the first week of league play for the Falcons. Not only did Air Force outscore Nevada (a Wednesday win) and UNLV 80-56 in the second half, they got back-to-back career-type scoring games from senior forward Mike Fitzgerald. After averaging 7.0 points per game in non-conference action, Fitzgerald averaged 26.0 points in last week’s games and leads the league in scoring in MW games after Week 1.
Fitzgerald scored a career-high 30 points against Nevada on Wednesday and answered with 22 more at UNLV.
FRESNO STATE: Bulldogs coach Rodney Terry says the youth of his team — the Bulldogs started three freshman Saturday in the Pit — is getting better all the time, but he also sees value in the trial by fire they’re experiencing facing their first go ‘round in a tough league after playing in the Western Athletic Conference a season ago.
Saturday, after prized local 7-foot recruit Robert Upshaw had zero points at halftime, Terry was encouraged Upshaw didn’t shut down, instead finishing with nine points.
“He responded in the second half,” Terry said. “Our freshmen grew a little bit (Saturday).”
COLORADO STATE: Larry Eustachy, the Rams’ first-year coach, has not participated in the past two MWC coaches teleconferences, as his team has been holding morning practices during the winter break.
Classes at CSU resume next week and the Rams will return to regular afternoon practices, presumably allowing Eustachy to resume his participation in the teleconference.
— This article appeared on page D1 of the Albuquerque Journal