Linder’s Pokes Use ‘Bye Week’ To Focus on Nevada, Themselves
LARAMIE -- Yes, the Cowboys spent their "bye week" focusing on players like Kenan Blackshear and Jarod Lucas.
Nevada's leading scorers both average more than 16 points per game. Blackshear, according to Wyoming head coach Jeff Linder, has that "Hunter Maldonado effect," referring to his ability to shoot, back players down in the post or fire a perfectly placed pass just like his former makeshift point guard did the last two winters.
The senior guard dishes out nearly five assists an outing. That's a team high. He also hauls in 5.3 rebounds. That's second to only 6-foot-9 forward Nick Davidson, who Linder calls their "glue guy."
While the Cowboys have their collective sights set on the veteran-laden Wolf Pack, who will pay a visit to Laramie Saturday evening, they have also used this down time to take a look in the mirror.
"I mean, there's a certain level of focus you put on the other team, but sometimes you can worry about the other team too much," Linder said. "I think, for us, I mean, especially kind of the makeup of our team, man, it's more about what we do."
Wyoming currently sits in ninth place in the Mountain West in scoring, averaging nearly 73 points per game. they allow 73.4, the worst mark in the 11-team league. Linder's squad is also near the bottom of the standings in field-goal percentage (45.1%), field-goal percentage defense (44.7%), blocked shots (3.12), assists (11.7), steals (5.5), turnover margin (-2.06), assist-to-turnover ratio (0.78) and defensive rebounding percentage (.690).
Despite all of those dismal numbers above, Wyoming is a game over .500 and has already matched its win total from a season ago. It is also 2-2 in conference play and has lost just once inside the Arena-Auditorium.
Still, there is plenty of work to be done.
"It's more about, did you turn the ball over, knowing that that's where the rotation was coming from and now leads to a layup on the other end? Did you make an open shot? Did you understand what we were trying to do out of the timeout, the play we were trying to run and not the other team's play? For us, we're going to focus way more on us," Linder added.
"... (You) Just allow them to go out and play because at the end of day you start thinking too much and you slow down and that's the last thing we're going to try to do."
Nevada, after winning eight straight, has dropped two in a row, including a 64-56 home loss to Boise State last Friday night. Steve Alford's team dropped a 71-59 decision at San Diego State Wednesday. The Aztecs outrebounded the Wolf Pack, 44-25, including a plus-13 on the offensive glass.
Linder knows all the stats. He watched the game. Still, he says it will benefit his roster to simply focus on what they do best.
"You don't lose games because you're prepping for 40 different plays," he said. "We can barely remember our plays let alone if I'm going to go over the 40 different plays that Nevada runs. I mean, at the end of the day, can we just go out and kind of understand the main things that we're trying to do?"
Tipoff is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. Mountain Time and the game will be streamed on the Mountain West Network.